Whenever you speak, remember that you speak on behalf of both yourself and for the business you work within.
Here’s my story of proof.
About 10 years ago one morning I was traveling on a train from home into Adelaide city for my day job.
At one station a guy got on with his bike. Normally nothing would be said – but it was the express train. Bikes are not permitted. But most people on my train were already too tired, or had work on their mind already, or simply didn’t care – so let it slide. But it wasn’t going to be that simple.
He rolled his bike on, looked at me and a group of ladies sitting in seats that flip away to reveal a space normally reserved for bikes. He stood near us for a short while before turning to us and saying “Please move.”
All of the ladies, looked at him, then ignored him. They were in conversation and hadn’t anticipated this. After all, this was the peak-hour train. They’d never had to stand before that day – and rightly so.
He tried again, this time loudly and aggressively. I was at the far end of the 4 seats, so felt no immediate threat. But his tone got menacing, so I stood up and told him he shouldn’t have his bike on the express train, and that we were within our rights to sit there. He then pushed me backwards, and I fell to the floor.
I reckon the train driver saw and heard the whole conversation – the train slightly shook, then resumed speed before stopping at the next station.
At that point the train driver and two station guards were seen walking outside our carriage. One of the ladies beside said to the offensive man – “Oh look, your mummy is here.” That got a laugh out of a few of us. I had sat back on my seat, and my attacker stood at his bike. No apologies came forth.
The driver pointed at me, then at him. As they walked passed me (as they had come onto the carriage at the other door), I was nodded at. They walked up to him – and he went off at the guards, yelling about his rights. Wearing his flashy suit, metal ankle braclet to protect his pants, bright helmet and gloves. A spectacle to behold.
They ‘advised‘ him to get off the train, but just as he stepped off, one guard stopped and asked me if I’d like to press charges.
Some might say I made the wrong choice.
“No, but I’d like to ask him one question.”
“Umm… sure…” I don’t think they hear that often.
Train guards don’t touch people, they corral. I have seen it often enough. So the man moved in an odd way back onto the train without his bike.
“What?” He tried to too look angry, but his eyes said terror.
I smiled weakly and asked “Where do you work? That’s a nice suit.”
He clearly didn’t understand what I just did.
“I WORK FOR ____! THEY ARE GOING TO HEAR ABOUT THIS!”
That’s right, he told the whole carriage. The three ladies were smiling now.
“Good for you. You are right, they are going to hear about this. I can only hope you are not the ambassador for that business – because your attitude and behaviour today is totally NON-professsional. Seeya.”
Even the train guard understood what just happened. They again advised him to get off, with his shiny bike. As this wa the closest station to the city, he’d probably get to work sooner than us.
As the doors closed, there was an audible sigh, a slight laugh, and a few people applauded. I was shaking with both fear and exhilaration. I’d never done that before. I never wanted to ever again.
As I got off the train, three passengers quietly approached me and thanked me. The train guards nodded at me. The driver would have logged the incident.
And his business probably may have received a LOT of phone calls that day.
We never saw him on the train again.
Why tell you this story? I am constantly reminded of it when people I know work in amazing businesses decide to berate me on social media. What do you think I am going to do next?
Well, I actually prefer not to do anything. I rarely delete social media unless it’s a conversation that should have been had offline. Instead your wonderful comments can stay for ALL my friends to read. Think about that for a second or two.