It was the last trip of the summer with our VK Basketball team and I was in line to go through airport security when I got a call from one of our coaches telling me that one of our athletes brought the wrong PR card and they weren’t going to let her through.
I responded, “You’re joking right? I’m not in the mood right now. You messin’ with me?”
Sadly, it was not a joke. So, I got out of line to see what was up.
Turns out, our player had brought an old PR card and the TSA agent was not going to let her through.
“No way, not possible, no exceptions” she said.
“Okay, then we’re going to need to speak with a manager” said one of our coaches, Chris, taking the lead trying to get things moving.
After waiting quite some time, it was now 30 minutes until the one-hour cut-off, and we still had no news, and no manager…20 minutes to cut-off…still no manager… 10 minutes to cut-off…
Now dangerously low on time, we started looking into a Plan B.
“Let’s book her a new flight to Everett, Washington so that her parents can drive down from Vancouver and pick her up at the border.”
I started looking for flights on my phone, found a new flight and bought it.
It was now 5 minutes to cut-off. The new ticket was purchased, but we still hadn’t seen any sign of a manager. Then, with two minutes to go, I realized I had purchased a new ticket for two months later. Good times!
My focus quickly shifted from the new ticket to finding a manager.
We went back to the same lady that initially refused us and asked her once again if we could speak with a manager.
“There’s just no way to get it done. It’s cut and dried” she said.
I proceeded to explain to her that there was no way we were leaving a 17-year-old kid behind in a foreign country. We needed to find a solution.
Finally, the manager called back. She told us that she had called Canadian customs, they had looked up the player, and were going to give us permission just this once—success!
The lady who kept telling us "no" started arguing with her supervisor who was willing to make it work.
“But how do we print a boarding pass?! The computer says no. We can’t do it!”
She got off the phone and told us she was going to wait for her supervisor to get there.
At that point, we were five minutes past cut-off when the supervisor finally showed up and told the other lady to go away and do something else. She started calling people, typing things into the computer, all with a positive attitude.
“Seems like we’re getting closer” I thought to myself. Now 10 minutes past cut-off…
The supervisor finally looked up from the desk and said, “okay, we can make this work—but she can never do this again; they’ll never let her cross. It’s only because she’s 17 and you’re in a large group that we’re able to get her through.”
She printed the ticket, and we made it on time.
Before leaving I told the supervisor, “just so you know, you’ve been fantastic. Thank you for your help. That other lady had a very bad attitude—she’s a “no” person. Thank you for getting it done.”
The whole experience was not a fun time. Obviously, we would have rather had the right documents from the beginning. Obviously, it would have been better if Air Canada had nice agents who tried to solve problems rather than create them.
Throughout the experience, we heard several “no’s.” If we had listened, we would have packed it in and gone to the Canadian consulate the next day.
We needed to turn several “no’s” into just one “yes.”
Early on in this debacle, Chris and I decided that we weren’t going to take no for an answer. It wasn’t easy, but we persevered. We got on the plane, she got on the plane, it all worked out.
At work, we get a lot of this as well. When trying to buy tickets, we get a lot of “no’s” but all we’re searching for is one “yes.” Eventually, we always get our “yes.”
Dealing with the “no’s” is discouraging, but we always end up figuring it out.
Moral of the story is, one “yes” can make up for a million different “no’s.”