An Amtrak Dining Car Crew Steps Up … and Saves the Day.

Enlightened managers of successful companies know that their employees make the difference between success and failure.

That’s certainly true of Amtrak. Finding a good attendant assigned to your sleeping car is pretty much the norm these days and the dining car staffs, too. If things do go wrong, it’s almost always because a crew member is new, still learning the ropes.

And it’s not all that unusual for a crew to show some real initiative and go the extra mile. Take, as a for-instance, an incident related to me by a veteran rail traveler who was there.

One night in early January, in one of those awful blizzards, the eastbound Capitol Limited’s normal 6:40 p.m. departure time from Chicago came and went. Sleeping car passengers were told not to leave the Metropolitan Lounge lest train #30 depart without them, so by the time the train was ready to board, it was close to 11 o’clock and no one had had any dinner.

Normally, dinner service begins upon the Capitol Limited’s departure from Chicago, but there was miscommunication on that particular night and the dining car crew had been told that passengers would have already had dinner back at Union Station. And so forty or fifty tired and very hungry passengers boarded only to discover that the dining car would not be open until breakfast.

But acting on their own, the on-board crew of chefs and servers, with car attendants pitching in to help, sprang into action and whipped up a buffet dinner of sandwiches, chips and drinks.

And so a trip that could have been a disaster, with disgruntled passengers bad mouthing Amtrak to their friends and neighbors, turned out to be just the opposite, thanks to a half dozen men and women who showed some initiative and did their jobs and did them very well indeed.

It’s simple, really: if you hire carefully pay well and treat them fairly and with respect, you end up with good employees.

And happy customers.