I was on a flight when my son was very young. He was pretty restless and the best solution has to stand up and hold him in the galley of the plane. If it didn’t calm him down, the noise wouldn’t bother anyone. There were a couple stewardesses working and another that was off-duty. They were talking about famous people that had been passengers.
Muhammed Ali - kind of sad, he was pretty shaky, but didn’t turn down a single autograph or photo request. A passenger handed him a blue felt pen for signing. By the end of the flight, the ink had bled through many pieces of paper and the seat tray was covered in scribbles.
Farrah Fawcet - The stewardess asked what she would like to drink, no response. After the second time, the assistant said, “Miss Fawcett doesn’t speak to the help.” OK, guess who gets help in an emergency.
Tom Cruise - polite, but didn’t want to be disturbed.
Neil Armstrong - The pilot went up to him and said, “There are only 2 people in this world that I would like to meet before I die. You are one of them. Would you sign an autograph for me.” Mr. Armstrong’s response, “I don’t do autographs”.
Heather Locklear - wow, she really is short, but she was extremely nice. One of the most pleasant passengers on the plane.
Sylvester Stallone - rude, obnoxious. They got a kick out of some nude scene he did before becoming famous – very small.
John Kerry snowboarding. He fell and a report asked him about it. Response: “I DON’T FALL. That %!$#! ran into me.”
John Kerry as a Senator. Someone in Boston saw him outside a restaurant. He was getting out of his car with his wife. “Hey, you can’t park by that fire hydrant”. Kerry’s response, “Do you KNOW who I AM?”.
John Kerry as war protestor. Testifying before Congress, he said he remembered spending Christmas 1968 in Cambodia and hearing the President say there were no troops in Cambodia. That made him question the truthfulness of the war. Well, there is a dispute about whether he was in Cambodia. Some reports are that he was 50miles away and he has made statements about being in a base camp writing letters on Christmas. The part that is ignored is President Nixon made the statement about no troops in Cambodia, but he didn’t even become President until January 1969.
George Bush making a surprise visit to troops at Thanksgiving. There are claims it was just a photo-op, but the response from soldiers actually there was that he didn’t refuse a single photo or autograph and stayed longer than the Secret Service wanted.
George Bush visiting wounded soldiers in a hospital. There were no photographers and no reporters around. The Sergeant Major of the Army witnessed it. The President stood at the foot of a soldier’s bed and saluted him (subordinate to superior, very symbolic for a soldier and a sign of respect). The real proof that President understood what he was doing was when he held the salute until the wounded man was able to return the salute.
Respect is earned in the little things that most people don’t notice, not in sound bites and press conferences. And as far as public speaking goes, I don’t think there is a better speaker in the US Government than Collin Powell.