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I Am Armed With An iPhone And A Blog Deadline - Go Ahead, A.S.S. - Make My Day!

November 23, 2009
by Gwen Darling
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I took a week’s vacation to northern California a few weeks ago, just south of Mendocino - Irish Beach, to be exact. You’d think that this information would not warrant a mention in a forum such as this (and you’d think right) if it weren’t for the fact that my colleague Tim Tolan wrote an entire blog post about the importance of taking time off and used me as his example of how to successfully be a slacker. Thanks, Tim.

However, in the spirit of Tim’s blog, and since the holidays are upon us and many of us will be traveling, I thought I’d point out an example of my own, but this one is worth a mention since it was someone we can all learn from who was rude and thoroughly obnoxious, not just someone who was sitting in a hot tub on the California coast drinking local wine and getting some well-deserved R & R, Tim.

At any rate. So here I am on my vacation, with enough frequent flier miles to fly First Class (which I’ll bet is the only way everyone else is there, too) on my way home from San Francisco to Tulsa, with a connection in Dallas. The flight arrived in Dallas several minutes early, and was perfect - no surly ticket agents, no turbulence, no crying babies, no H1N1 suspects hacking or sneezing without using the elbow duck and cover tactic, no disgusting person camping out in the bathroom and ruining it for everyone else, no drunk dude arguing about the definition of an “approved electronic device.” Seriously, perfect. So there was no way any reasonable person could get angry when, after a delay of about two minutes, the flight attendant got on the intercom and explained that the jetway had malfunctioned, and we’d be able to deplane as soon as it was fixed. And that it shouldn’t be long, but she’d appreciate our patience, and it sure would make sense for us all to sit down and relax. And that she’d tell us as soon as she knew more. And thank you. Yep, she said all that. So there was no way any reasonable person could get angry.

But guess what? This may come as a total surprise to you, but not everyone in First Class is reasonable – even if they did “earn” their leather-covered wider seat with free drinks and a shrink-wrapped pillow and blanket and the least matronly flight attendant. Even then. No, as soon as the captain turned off the seat belt sign, and the passengers reacted like Pavlov’s dog to the “ding” that accompanied it by frantically unbuckling their metal flap, the “gentleman” across the aisle leapt up, grabbed his carry-on from the overhead bin, placed it in the aisle in front of him, and stood there twitching like a Preakness thoroughbred waiting for the starting gate to be lifted. I didn’t give it much thought – there’s always one of those, right? But then came the announcement about the jetway. And that’s when the fun began. No sooner had our least matronly flight attendant uttered, “Thank you,” than the Anxious Sad Sack (A.S.S) uttered his own reply, “Sh&t!” And then? He kicked his bag. I’m not kidding – like a spoiled little kid. And then? A.S.S (loudly) muttered, “I don’t f*%king believe this!” At this point, out came the cell phone, so he could share his unbelievably tragic situation with anyone who would listen. It was at this point my blogger’s sensibilities took over, and I went into stealth mode, snapping a photo of this giant A.S.S standing in the aisle. (As you can see, my description is apt from many perspectives).

I’m not exactly sure, but I think it was also about that time that the flight attendant let us know that it might be, at the most, another 10 minutes or so. I do know that that was definitely when A.S.S stomped his foot and shook his head and snorted, like an angry bull. I’m not kidding - jowls a’flappin. And then just to make sure he really made a statement, he kicked his bag again. And when the flight attendant came back on two minutes later to tell us the jetway was fixed? A.S.S said, loud enough for those back in the cheap seats to hear, “Well it’s about f*%king time!”




Thanks for the story and the photo. I'm forwarding it to our HR team to put this guy on the "Do Not Hire" list!

One of the things that can come with maturity is self-awareness. I've noticed that, after air travel, I'm often at a compassion low.  Or, in English, a foul mood.  I keep it inside, of course.

When I land after a long day of work and a late night landing, my inner dialogue toward the rental car agent is occasionally very fowl and completely undeserved. Even if they do expect the impossible, belching a series of "first right, then left, then left, then right, then get on 75N (which is actually going east) for a half mile, then take 85 S."  Then they smile and ask "got it?"  Uh, no.  Fortunately, in 2009, everything I own suddenly has a built in GPS so it's no longer an issue.

My point is, there can be something unique about air travel which can bring out the worst in many of us. To your point, however, adults have an obligation to be kind. Whether or not their fellow passenger is armed with a camera phone!


Good stuff!!!

BTW - I think I know this guy. He works for one of our key competitors. The next time we are competing with his firm I will forward your blog to the decision maker.
Yep. That's excatly what I will do!

Gwen - what a great job you did not only relating this hilarious story, but also getting a photo of the obnoxious exec! When traveling for business (or fun), it's always wise to be on at least reasonable behavior. You never know who could be listening to your stories (or tantrums!). A person I used to work with recently had an embarrassing situation at a conference when the woman he was harassing at the hotel bar turned out to someone his boss knew well. Goes to show you just never know!
I hope you had a relaxing trip & we're glad you're back!

Love it, Gwen. I recall a friend of mine telling me that he saw me on the Times Square webcam. Now, I wasn't doing anything wrong, but it does make you realize that you can be seen anywhere and it is not all that hard to identify people and post professionally and otherwise embarrassing pictures of them that can be seen all over the world - permanently!

Someone is always watching. I figured that out a while back and it has served me ever since. Thanks for the reminder, Gwen

Thanks for the comments! Joe, we may have to start a "Do Not Hire" photo gallery! I was traveling home on Thanksgiving Day and some bozo threw a hissy fit when he boarded late and the overhead bin directly over his seat was full. He was NOT ABOUT to put his duffel bag two rows back. The guy sitting two rows back offered up, "Dude, I'll toss up your duffel when we land," which I thought was more than generous, because I'm sure I was not the only one thinking of other uses for his duffel.

Kate - love your story! You are right - you just never know!