Per the AP story (more about them later) quoted in Cohen's piece,
Correa, 43, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution he had a bathroom emergency 30 minutes into a March 28 Delta Air Lines flight from San Pedro Sula to Atlanta but found the single coach aisle on the Boeing 737 blocked by a beverage cart. He said he asked whether he could use the lavatory in business class but was told no.I can so relate on so many levels. As Cohen writes
When the cart wasn’t moved after a few minutes, Mr. Correa said, he ran for the business-class lavatory. He said the flight attendant put up her arm to block him and he grabbed it to keep his balance.
. . . I think you have to accord great respect to a “bathroom emergency,” especially in a middle-aged gentleman.[SIDEBAR: I am near Correa's age, and he/I/we was/were just referred to as "middle-aged". Not news, but I am not used to seeing it in writing. Ouch.]
Anyway, Cohen continues:
Imagine poor Correa, assailed by disquieting visions of the mountain of fried fish with jalapeños he’d vacuumed down at the Bistro San Pedro Sula Del Mar, and then — the horror! The horror! — spotting the beverage cart (formerly the food cart) blocking his path to relief.OMG the "Sir"! A parody of politeness--so true. I have heard that "Sir" many, many times. It's often accompanied by the unmistakable look that airline employees get when they go into their practiced "I'm dealing with the
I can hear the snippy reply from the flight attendants, mostly middle-aged themselves, all of whom think the fun of flying disappeared some decades back — about the same time as their job security and sense of humor — and would rather be sipping mojitos in Sanibel than talking up seven-dollar “wraps.”
“You’ll have to wait, Sir. We’re doing the drinks and tiny pack of peanuts service.”
The intonation of that “Sir” will be familiar to many of you, a tone peculiar to American airline companies, one in which resentment, superiority, fear, contempt and impatience are coiled into a venomous parody of politeness — a three-letter expletive really — that stands the notion of service on its head and tells the whole dismal story of U.S. carriers in recent years.
On a rare (for me) Northwest flight, a flight hag went from 0 to Nancy Grace in 5 milliseconds after I grabbed some ice out of the bucket to put on my bleeding lip (courtesy of some oaf who elbowed me as I tried to get my book out from underneath the briefcase he plopped in my seat when I stood up to let his fat ass in next to me). Girlfriend was threatening to get the pilot and have me taken off the plane because she didn't like the way I was talking to her . . . I had made no threats and wasn't in any way violent - she just had that new post-9/11 "have you taken off the plane" trump card, and she used it. Degrading, but I wanted to get to where I was going . . . although in retrospect (as always) it would've been interesting to have called her bluff. (Bitch if you're still out there I hope your trashy ass gets laid off in the merger. Yeah, I said it.)
But where was I, and where are my manners? I love how Cohen illustrates the idiocy of the airline's reaction to Correa's case. It was an international flight, and his name sounds Brazilian - perhaps there was a language barrier? I wasn't there - perhaps s/he thought he was storming the cabin--although it all should've been clear once he got where he was going and did what he needed to do. Would s/he rather he shat in the aisle??
No question: Airline employees have a challenging job to say the very least, and my fellow passengers are often obnoxious boors, or worse. (Moi? Never!) Still, that does not give them license to make bitchitude their baseline state - and there are plenty (most?) who do not. (The FAs on UA 142 today from MSP to ORD were delightful - even the one with too much lip gloss but a fabulous Sheila E vibe.) We know you don't "control the weather" already ferchrissakes - stop telling us that like we're 5 years old . . . what you do control is how you react to and adjust your "customer service" in response.
Here's to you Mr. Correa - I hope your case is dismissed as the needless litigation it is - and thank you Mr. Cohen - great article.