Friday, May 15, 2009

What Happened To Patriotism?


Did you ever NOT speak up when you really wanted to rip into someone?  Then, after keeping your mouth shut, you gave yourself a good talking to about it for days, because you SHOULD have spoken up at that moment no matter how crazy things were or what the consequences might have been?  Well, I had one of those moments last week and I'm still mad at myself about it!

I take a round-trip Continental Airlines flight between Los Angeles and Cleveland several times a year.  In the past three months I've taken it three times; but for last week's trip I was nervous about the Swine Flu.   Yes, I was the only paranoid passenger wearing a surgical mask and wiping down my tray table with disinfectant.   People were looking at me like I was a nut case but I figured better safe than sorry.   But my mask was not what made this flight so unusual.  

This flight was packed-- really packed, especially for a Monday afternoon.  Before long, the overhead compartments were filled with business men's carry-on suitcases and their briefcases-- Because gawd forbid anything ever went under the seat in front of a businessman

When businessmen are traveling together, it's pretty easy to tell who the "Boss Man" is and who the "Worker Bees" are.  Translation-- the Boss is usually a pompous jerk who wants everyone around him to know that HE'S "the boss" while the Worker Bees are bowing and trying to please his sorry ass.  This flight was no exception.

(Of course not all businessmen are this way but I've known and seen more than my share over the years so I'm pointing the finger at them in relationship to this story.  I know there are some really great businessmen out there too.)

Back to the flight...

We had a perky, 50-something flight attendant with short reddish-brown pixie hair and super strong arms and legs.  I knew they were strong because she was slinging suitcases and climbing on seats to push bags around in the overhead bins like they were filled with feathers.  But the more bags she shuffled, the louder her "I'm not loving my job" attitude came across. 

She stood out from the the attendants in part because her dress was too short and we saw way more of her than we needed to see-- if you catch my drift, and in part, because she was, well, bitchy-- in a perky kind of way. When the overhead bins were full she'd slam them shut and gave anyone who tried to open them the evil eye before directing them to an open bin instead.  

Anyway, on this flight, was a very polite, very nice, and very young, United States Marine traveling with his Dress Blues uniform in a special hanging bag that left no doubt it was "official" in United States Marine Corps. packaging.  You've seen these fancy uniforms before in a military color-guard or other special military events. Their high collars, crisply pressed with striking trim, are very Proud-To-Be-An-American looking.  These aren't the every-day uniforms and you take notice when you see a Marine wearing one-- or carrying one.

Our young Marine carried his Dress Blues with great respect like it was fine crystal.  So you can only imagine how very careful and thoughtful he was about where he placed his Dress Blues in the overhead bin.  He scoped out the perfect spot after everyone else had stashed their carry-ons and after Miss Bitchy-Perky flight attendant had closed the overhead bins declaring them full.  Then he carefully opened the perfect bin with room to spare, and without moving anyone else's gear, gently laid his uniform bag on top before closing the bin, which happened to be directly over my head.  I literally saw him breathe a sigh of relief when his Dress Blues were in a safe place.  Phew!  Thank gawd Miss Bitchy-Perky hadn't see him.

Do you think that was the end of it?  Not even close.  

One of the very last passengers to board was a pain in the butt Boss Man traveling with a Worker Bee.   The Boss primped and strutted his way to the back of the plane making sure everyone knew that he usually flies First Class but "his" Worker Bee (as if he owned him) had screwed up his reservation and he had to sit in the "cheap seats" with the rest of us peasants.   He stopped at the empty seat in front of me and almost smacked right into Miss Bitchy-Perky; who told him to turn around and check his bag at the door.  All bins were full. 

Check his bag?  Over his dead body!

Boss Man treated Bitchy-Perky like she was invisible and proceed to open the full bin with the Dress Blues, directly above my head.   He started shoving and pushing bags around, pulling other people's stuff out, and then slung his way-too-big-to-even-be-on-the-plane-suitcase directly on top of the United States Marine's Dress Blues uniform bag. 

S-M-A-S-H!  

Then, before the poor Marine could fly out of his seat, three rows back, to save his Dress Blues, Boss Man barked at Worker Bee to hand him his briefcase (which the Worker Bee was actually carrying for him along with all his own crap!) and tried to cram the briefcase in on top of the Dress Blues too!

Well, you can imagine the tizzy Miss Bitchy-Perky flew into over Boss Man's bags.  At the moment she happened to be carrying an arm load of blankets over her head (Why they were over her head, I do not know.).  She did one of those things you see two years olds do in a temper tantrum-- She dropped her arms like wet noodles and let the blankets fall-- on my head. (Ewwww-- those things are nasty and I was sure the Swine Flu was all over me! Thank gawd for the mask and wipes!)  Then she started pointing her finger and yelling at Boss Man-- who yelled back.  Meanwhile the poor U.S. Marine was all "Sir and "Ma'am" trying to get to his uniform out of the middle of all this before his perfectly pressed Dress Blues looked like an old dish rag.

Miss Bitchy-Perky was really bitchy now and pulled the uniform bag from under Boss Man's suitcase, crushing it over her arm.  When the polite United State Marine asked for the uniform, Bitchy-Perky did the exact same thing with his uniform that she did with the blankets. She dropped it on the floor!!!!  

Oh!  My!  Gawd!  

Still sitting in my seat and without saying a word, I picked up the uniform to hand it to the Marine and Bitchy-Perky actually snatched it out of my hands and, after yelling at Boss Man one more time, threw the Dress Blues on the floor again!  And deliberately stood on it!

By now our Marine was about to pop his poor shaved head off with politeness and a massive dose of urgency-- PPPLLLEEEEAAASSSEEEE  MA'AM--  It's my DRESS UNIFORM!

Finally, major back-up was coming from every direction with the other two flight attendants and the gate attendant RUNNING down the aisle towards us.  Boss Man was raging, Marine was nearly in tears, Bitchy-Perky was beyond crazy rude and I was sitting silently in the middle, wearing a surgical mask, trying to get the United States Marine's Dress Blues out from under the bitch's firmly planted foot.  

It took seconds for the back-up staff to settle matters and people scattered.  In the end, butt head Boss Man got all of his crap in the overhead storage bins.  The poor Marine actually had to check-- in the belly of the plane-- his Dress Blues that were stored in a safe place way before Boss Man ever stepped foot on the plane.  (Turns out he was wearing his Dress Blues at a military funeral the next day.)  And Miss Bitchy-Perky was never seen again-- EVER.  I don't know if she got off the plane or if she hid in the galley, but she was G O N E.

Maybe it's a good thing she went missing in action, because if she's passed me a bag of nuts and a cold drink mid-flight, I would have had a few choice words for her. By then things had calmed down enough for me adjust my surgical mask,  gather my thoughts and, instead of being stunned by her horrible behavior, I was just plain pissed off.  I'd have let her have it in a calm enough fashion that I doubt I would have been arrested when we landed in Los Angeles-- but I would have made the point that her disrespect to the United States Marine and his Dress Blues uniform was totally unacceptable. 

I was angry because we weren't talking about a little league baseball uniform, a Girl Scout uniform or a Mickey Mouse costume.  It was clearly a United States Marine's Dress Blues uniform.  There was no doubt about that fact.  If you can't show respect for our enlisted man or woman, who the hell can you show respect for-- especially in this day and age?!?

But at the time, it happened all so fast and I didn't say a word.   I'm still thinking about that Marine and the funeral he was participating in wearing the crushed uniform the next day.  It burns me up that 2 minutes and 2 idiots could shatter something so small yet so major all at the same time.

I'm no shrinking violet.  In fact, my "strong personality" has been pointed out to me many times in the past.  But at that moment, the opportunity to stand up to a bully passed.

I know, I know-- Day late and a dollar short.  It won't happen again.

Welcome to TheFiftyFactor  -  Joanna

13 comments:

lisa said...

This makes my heart hurt. The "boss man" has to be a jerk to make up for his own insecurities and the attendant plain hates her job. My heart goes out to the Marine...as many people today are rude and selfish. Next time, I think I'd make contact with him instead of the attendant. Harrassing the attendant would only make you feel better. It'd be lost on her.

Lilly said...

Oh what a story that is. You wrote that so well that I could picture being right in the middle of it all.

Boss men, well I know EXACTLY what you mean. The Attendant does hate her job and needs to get out. And the poor Marine, oh dear! I think it was a good thing you didnt say anything at the time but maybe its worth writing to the airline nonetheless. I am sure you won't be the first.

I think I have come to expect poor manners with Flight Attendants now. Well for domestic flights at least. As for cocky rude businessmen well I could tell you a few stories too. And sadly my lawyer daughter culd tell even more. I thought some things may improve over the years. Clearly men still have issues with females.

It's a good thing you are like you are and never give up fighting the fight. Your silence was probably warranted in this case only because you may have been escorted from the plane. I knew I liked your style. I would have been wearing a mask too.

Have a great weekend.

Joanna Jenkins said...

Hi Lilly and Lisa, Thanks for your kind words. It was a strange experience for me. And I still stay awake at night thinking about that poor Marine. I know Flight Attendants have a tough job with all the cut backs and the extra bags being carried on. And I know passengers can be real jerks sometimes. But there is just no excuse for the bad behavior. That poor Marine got the very short end of this stick :-( Thanks a million for visiting my blog. I'm a loyal fan of both of your blogs and hope my readers check yours out! Happily weekend.

diane said...

It's never too late. Contact the airlines, and tell them what flight you were on and the whole story. She will be reprimanded or fired.

sheila said...

Seriously?
Email the airline with a link to this post. Leave in the bitchy's too. Also make a note in your email that you are also going to send it to your local newspaper.

Those snotty bastards are so lucky I wasnt' on that plane...although after that, I probably would have been thrown off. OMG, that's horrible!

Lulu said...

Hey! I wrote about travel today too, only in a snarkier manner, but still, check me out - we think alike!

it's sad that we all have to think twice about speaking up in this situation because we know of the power to throw us off the plane for standing up to the flight attendant - but at least you're reaching more of us here, right?

Loving Annie said...

Grrrrr ! That was horrible. Poor marine - and poor you. Miss Bitchy-Perky was so throughly out of line ! What a shame - and a disgrace for her to be so insensitive and disrespectful.

Glad she was given the boot - and it seems like she was !

It probably happenned so fast I can totally understand why you weren't able to say anything - sometimes your mouth is hanging open in such shock that you just aren't lightning fast on your feet processing it all - been there/done THAT with the uh-oh why didn't I say something thing !

Joanna Jenkins said...

Thanks all. I'm taking your advise and contacting Continental Airlines. In fairness, I've taken this flight many, many time and it's usually pretty uneventful, but this one crossed the line. I still have my boarding pass and know where the Boss Man and Marine were sitting. And I have the flight attendant's first name, so that's a start.

And check out http://lulusandbar.blogspot.com/2009/05/travel-rules.html Lulu's post on Travel Rules is a hoot!

Traceytreasure said...

I'm just sick thinking of all the stress this caused the Marine before a funeral. A fellow Marine, friend, loved one? Who knows what the next day held for him.
You crack me up with your mask! I work in a health food store and I'm tempted to wear one too! I always carry wipes!!

I'm so glad you found me! The first post I read of yours really touched my heart!

Hugs!!

Lulu said...

To continue the lovefest....I gave you an official shoutout on Lulu's Sandbar - just click on my name to see it.
Best,
Lu

Sarah said...

First of all...you are an outstanding writer. And I see that you found Tracey who is also a great read. I can not wait to dive into your past posts....

I find it incredulous that even in this day in age, people would have the audacity to show a person in uniform disrespect. This young man's uniform is the only material thing that he owns that defines the sacrifices he has made so that bitch of a woman can get on an airplane without the fear of it blowing up mid-air.

I concur with the advice about dropping an email/phone call to the airline....it is never too late to try to rectify an injustice.

Once again...fantastic post and I look forward to reading much more!

Sarah

Joanna Jenkins said...

Lulu, THANKS for the shout out! I really appreciate it.
Sarah-- Glad to meet you and you're a great writer too!
And thanks to everyone for your words of support. I admire all of your writing and well, my head is swelling a bit :-)

Yaya said...

Yup, that happens to me a lot. Well not a bitchy flight attendant, but thinking of what I should have said after the fact. Then I get mad I didn't say anything at the time. This is just so sad. I feel bad for his uniform :(

And yes, I clorox wipe my entire seating area when I fly and people look at me like I'm crazy. Oh well.