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"Never neglect the little things. Never skimp on that extra effort, that additional few minutes, that soft word of praise or thanks, that delivery of the very best that you can do. It does not matter what others think, it is of prime importance, however, what you think about you."  ~ Og Mandino

That 1950s tune said it all, "Little things mean a lot." Think of the "thank you" notes you've received for doing your job, or how you felt when someone went the extra inch just for you. For me, an example of doing the "little things" took the form of Trudy Byrd, a Delta flight attendant hosting our small regional jet out of N.W. Arkansas one very chilly morning, not that long ago...

"HI THERE! I'm Trudy Byrd!" she greeted everyone as we ducked inside, shivering. "It's freezing today, but it's going to be warm inside in just a few moments. You're with the warmest people this morning. We have a very hot pilot, a mildly hot co-pilot, and me, the HOTTEST flight attendant you'll ever meet!" The passenger sitting next to me looked over. So did the guy and the lady across the aisle. "What's this?" we murmured simultaneously, "someone HAPPY at 6 AM?"

"Folks, look up for a minute. Let me show you how to fasten that seatbelt you've already fastened, just in case you don't realize how you did it." Trudy's explanation of the safety instructions was a George Carlin moment. The pilots were laughing from behind the cockpit door. "Everyone, let me introduce the passengers in Row 8," Trudy exclaimed, "In case of an unlikely emergency, these big strong men will open that big, heavy window, toss it away, and yell FOLLOW ME!"

It got personal... "Meet Mr. Rueter in 8-C, he's a diamond frequent flyer, which means he can give safety instructions better than me. Mr. Rueter, thank you so much for agreeing to let the rest of us follow you out that exit window. May I get you something to drink in the meantime?"

Trudy always worked for Delta, first in reservations and later in the back office. Her real goal, though, for 34 years was to be a Delta flight attendant. Back then, flight attendants were called "stewardesses" and had to have a certain look and shape. Trudy didn't qualify, she admitted, "Although I was a big dish!" But after 34 years and five previous tries, she finally got her wish -- at age 58 she finally had "the greatest job in the world."

"That should have taken me 34 years ago, don't you think?" She vamped for a moment. All of us cheered. "What a wonderful thing, doing what you love," she said, "I look forward to meeting wonderful people like you every morning. You may be the greatest group of passengers I've had so far. I hope you love doing what you're doing as much as I love doing what I'm doing."

People clapped -- you meet lots of unhappy people in airports (in grocery stores and real estate offices). They go through life grimly holding on to their boarding pass, finding fault with the cramped seats and most everything else. Their only highlight is a first-class upgrade. Every once in a while, though, you see someone smiling -- they're going home or meeting someone who loves them. Or just maybe they're already doing what they really love to do, like Trudy. With them, it's never money. It's the joy of doing what they love to do.

A few of us hugged Trudy as we got off the plane. "I hope to see you again," she told everyone. "Don't forget to make someone else smile today."

How could I ever?

Blog by Marty Rueter