As a motivational speaker I spend lots of time in airports, where here is no better place to observe human behavior – at it's best, and at its worst.
One day a while back I found myself in a connecting airport when the plane I was scheduled to fly on was grounded. The clearly miserable gate agent was having to rebook dozens of people on new flights and everyone, including her, was stressed, upset and angry, As one man finally got his turn with her, he was almost screaming, as if the whole thing were her fault. He proclaimed that she was a TERRIBLE representative of the airline and was hopelessly incompetent. True, she wasn't taking it well, but he wasn't the first person blasting her. She was about to hit the end of her rope when my turn came and I approached the counter. Without even looking up from her computer she said tersely, "Yes."
I leaned in and very sincerely said, "Whatever they are paying you, it's not enough to put up with all this."
She immediately looked up at me and I swear, she almost started crying. She whimpered, "Right? I know, right?"
While she endeavored to rebook me I told her how I wasn't sure I would have been able to hold it together with Mr. Mean Guy and I was impressed that she could. She thanked me so much for being kind and seeing what she was up against and then she handed me my new ticket.
I looked at it and noticed that she had booked me in first class on the new plane. Surprised, I said, "Oh, I wasn't in first class on the last flight." She looked me straight in the eye, and with a slight smile said, "You are now."
Moral of the story: Be kind. Even when it would be most justifiable to be otherwise. It just might land you in first class.