Back in 2004 I was fortunate to take a tour of various cities and countries throughout the Asian continent. The trip included visits to the Tokyo tower, temples of Bangkok, night markets of Hong Kong, Forbidden City of Beijing, and the Great Wall of China. In all, our group of two dozen or so Master’s Degree students spent a little over two weeks touring some of the most amazing places on this earth. It’s an experience I will always remember and treasure.

Group Photo

Aside from the amazing cultures and sights, one of the greatest lessons of my trip through Asia was experienced on the final flight home.

By the time I boarded the plane in Osaka, Japan headed for Los Angeles I was completely exhausted. For days on end we had been spending as much time as possible seeing as much as we could see. For two weeks, sleep was simply in the way of making the most of our touring time. Additionally, I had already completed a long 6-hour flight from Bangkok to Osaka and was not exactly excited to spend the next nine hours on another flight to Los Angeles. Those of you who have been on such excursions know that the seating on these flights is very cramped. The seats are smaller, and there is much less legroom, in an attempt to pack in as many passengers on each flight as possible. As I walked into the seating area I was hoping for maybe a seat or two of space next to mine to give me a little room to stretch out as needed on my long journey. It was not to be, as the flight was, by design of the airline, completely full. Every seat was taken. Feeling a little dejected and overwhelmed by the long and cramped trip ahead of me I found my aisle seat and settled in as much as I could.

Great Wall

The first seven and a half hours of the flight went about as expected. We ate, watched movies, and fidgeted around for comfort in an attempt to sleep away some of the long night hours. It was at this point in the flight I started to have some, shall we say, difficulties. I can’t say if it was the days with little sleep, the jetlag, the weird ‘food’ that had just been placed in front of me, or the actress stepping on a nail in the movie I was watching that did it, but I suddenly started to lose consciousness. Passing out in my chair was not exactly what I had been hoping for on this leg of my journey. Regardless, here I was with all the blood drained out of my head. As I felt the sickness envelope me I strangely hoped my face would fall into my food as surely such a sight would attract the attention of someone that something was wrong. But I didn’t pass out. At least, not completely. I sat strangely in a state of mild consciousness where I was sort of lucid and sort of not. This lasted for minutes on end and I wondered how I would ever snap out of it on such a crowded flight where I couldn’t possibly lie down to get the blood back into my brain.

Lucky for me, someone noticed, sort of. The flight attendant who had served up my weird food tray noticed that I had not yet put my seat into its upright position as is required during meal time. As she asked me to put my seat up I fixed my glazed eyes in her direction and mumbled something along the lines of “I don’t feel so good.” I was hoping my plea would buy me some simple understanding and that I would then be allowed to keep my seat back a little bit until I felt better. What I got was much more than I could ever have hoped. Before I even finished my mumbled sentence the flight attendant told me that I looked very pale. Without stopping she quickly took my food from in front of me, helped me recline my chair back as far as it would go, and went to fetch something from the galley. A few seconds later I was given a cold cloth to use on my face in an attempt to help be become lucid again. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. But my hero didn’t leave my side.

Upon seeing that my condition wasn’t improving, the attendant helped me get out of my seat and took me to the back of the plane. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to stand or walk, but I somehow made the trip. All the passengers watched the sick pale man stumble through the aisle and wondered what was wrong. As we wandered past the rows of people I silently wondered what she would even be able to do for me once we got to wherever it was we were going. When we finally made it past all the seats she folded up the attendant seating and had me lie down on the floor in the resulting space. The attendant then snagged her own piece of carry-on luggage and put it under my feet in order to get my legs higher than my head. I was left there with my cold cloth and was checked on periodically until I was finally able to regain the color back into my face and could sit up without losing consciousness again. When I felt better, I made the walk of shame back to my seat to finish the flight.

I will always remember the efforts of this flight attendant helping me in my time of need. Even more so, I use it as a model for the kind of service I expect to provide to our customers. In my case I barely had to utter a word to get the help I needed. The training the attendant had undoubtedly received prepared her to spring into action and serve my needs before I even knew what my needs were. I was singled out in a plane of hundreds of other passengers with their own unique needs. I was given a resting place when there was no room to rest. I was given the time and attention I needed, but probably didn’t deserve. All without the slightest hint of annoyance or displeasure from the nice attendant who nursed me back to health using her own personal possessions to make it possible. As I oversee the client services of CLS I always want to be sure we provide that same level of service to those we serve on a daily basis. It is truly this kind of selfless initiative you can expect from our firm as we seek to provide the best.service.ever to the investors whom we serve on a daily basis.