Thursday, August 12, 2010
I have to admit, I've been following with some amusement the saga of the Jet Blue airplane attendant who went postal after a rude customer smashed him in the head with a suitcase.
Let's all agree, it was poor form to berate said customer over the intercom and then make a dramatic exit off the airplane via an inflatable emergency slide. No matter how obnoxious the person was being, by all normal standards, that's a little excessive.
But I have to tell you: even before knowing it for certain, the minute I heard the story, I said to myself, "This has to be the actions of an angry gay man."
I mean, come on. Huge overwrought hissy fit? In front of as large an audience as possible? An exit that reminds you of Batman heading into the batcave by swooping down the batpole? I mean, really. No straight man would even dream of doing something half as over the top as all that. It has all the makings of one big old queen on a tear.
Which begs the question, would I have done something quite so dramatic, if provoked? It's all about me, after all. And don't say it isn't, because if you do, I'll just up and stage a hissy fit, here and now.
Honestly, though, despite the hstrionics, I think anyone who's worked in customer service for any amount of time has probably heard the story and thought to themselves, "Damn. I wish I had done something that."
When I was in college, I worked in a convenience store, and I would have encounters with jerks all the time. Most of the time I'd just bite my tongue, but sometimes...I remember one time I lost it when I was running low on dollar bills and had a big sign out begging people for fives and ones. A snooty lady came in and paid me for a pack of gum with a twenty dollar bill. Even though I begged her, she insisted, and not very nicely, either. That was enough to put me over the edge, that day. I paid her in pennies, slamming each one onto the counter.
She wasn't very happy with me.
A few years after that, I was working for a collection agency. The guy who worked in front of me was trying to collect from a schoolteacher. She chewed him out one day on the phone, and he got angry. "You'd better pay up!" he screamed. "If you don't, I'm sending this to an attorney and we're going to sue your ass off. And I'm going to make damn sure the police serve you with papers at school, in front of ALL your school kids!"
She wasn't very happy with him. Then again, neither was our boss.
Those customers were just being verbally abusive, and look what happened. When Corb was a teen-ager, he worked at a discount clothing store. He had a customer who came in who tried to exchange a pair of Timberland boots, because he said they weren't the right size. Only problem was, they were incredibly old, scuffed up, and smelly. Corb refused to exchange them, so the man got angry and threw the box of shoes at his head. Good thing Corb wasn't that flight attendant! The security guards did grab the guy, however.
I don't think that made him very happy. But Corb didn't mind.
From all accounts the Jet Blue guys really loved his job, and always wanted to be a flight attendant. I think he'll have to rethink that career choice. Now that I think about it, it may be kind of tough for him to get a job for a while, period. What's he going to write down on future applications? "Q: How did you leave your last job? A: By inflatable emergency slide."
When all is said and done, though, this whole experience clearly demonstrates that the age-old struggle between customer servers and the creatures they serve is still alive and kicking. It's existed ever since the first person served a Brontoburger to someone in Bedrock (and they complained it was too cold), and will exist long after we've all gone to the great Customer Service Center in the sky (it will probably take FOREVER to get through the waiting room).
Still, this latest episode is proof that the curse of the working class is reaching ever greater and even more creative heights. For devotees of customerssuck.com, the Jet Blue guy certainly earned his wings.
Posted by nocompromises at 6:52 PM