Arctic Blast Heroes: Chick-fil-A to the Rescue

Birmingham, Ala. Chick-Fil-A store owner Mark Meadows (Courtesy Lauren Dango)

Having spent 9 hours in the Atlanta airport yesterday, my husband David and I observed the human condition first-hand, as travelers and crews left idle in the airport by canceled and delayed flights politely aided one another and made the best of uncertain conditions. Fortunately for us, we were all relatively safe and warm, well serviced by the ample selection of vendors throughout the airport, with blankets provided by the airlines, and strangers helping one another.

Those on the roads were not so fortunate, and as under other treacherous conditions, the grace of individuals and for-profit concerns came to the fore.

Atlanta-based Home Depot opened up 26 stores in Alabama and Georgia for stranded travelers. Hotels and churches provided food and shelter, and individuals opened their homes to strangers. One church member reported:

His guests included a family that got stuck in the Atlanta area en route to Texas, several motorists, and two homeless men.

“Everyone is sitting around chitchatting like they’ve known each other for years.”

And demonstrating its corporate culture in action, Birmingham, AL employees and owner of the Chick-fil-A restaurant a mile and a half from Highway 280:

“We cooked several hundred sandwiches and stood out on both sides of 280 and handed out the sandwiches to anyone we could get to – as long as we had food to give out.”

The staffers braved the falling snow and ice and Chick-fil-A refused to take a single penny for their sandwiches.

The restaurant also offered shelter to anyone who wanted to sleep there.

Chick-fil-A is uniquely bold in declaring its Corporate Purpose: “To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A,” and the company has clearly been successful in instilling that purpose throughout its vast operations. Asked why they would go to such extraordinary lengths to help stranded strangers, the manager leading the efforts cited Chick-fil-A’s much-misrepresented creed:

This company is based on taking care of people and loving people before you’re worried about money or profit. We were just trying to follow the model that we’ve all worked under for so long and the model that we’ve come to love. There was really nothing else we could have done but try to help people any way we could.

Among the few lucky ones whose flight departed Atlanta last night, we were thus chagrined at the selection of in-flight movies and TV shows—with one after the other portraying business as a snake-pit of greed and corruption. Strategically located in earthquake country, Hollywood may some day learn the lessons the unfortunate victims of the Arctic Blast, Katrina and other natural disasters have seen first-hand: when it comes to aid, those in the “for-profit” and private charity sectors beat “public service” every time.

HT: David J. Theroux

Mary L. G. Theroux is Senior Vice President of the Independent Institute. Having received her A.B. in economics from Stanford University, she is Managing Director of Lightning Ventures, L.P., a San Francisco Bay Area investment firm, former Chairman of the Board of Advisors for the Salvation Army of both San Francisco and Alameda County, and Vice President of the C.S. Lewis Society of California.
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