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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Open Mouth, Insert Foot -- Discrimination 101

In case you haven't figured it out by this time, I can be a bit feisty at times. Well, mouthy, really. Actually, both feisty and mouthy now that I'm thinking about it. In my defense, I have learned to let many things go in my old age -- or else just ignore them while I point fingers at the offender and laugh at them under my breath. But there are occasionally situations that grab hold of me like a whore roping her trick down to the bed. And this morning was one of those times. Unfortunately, it was early ..... about 6:30am. And, even more unfortunately, it was a bit of a row with an FAA Aviation Safety Inspector. Isn't that nice?

An official of the federal government arrived to do a check ride of our pilots which is quite routine and not unusual at all. Typically they aren't even really "working" but, many times, just need a ride back home or their vacation destination so they use the opportunity as an excuse to get in a check ride for the pilots. That's our government at its finest. So, I'm the First Class flight attendant, standing at the forward door, saying HI and all of that. And I'm just overhearing the conversation between the pilots and the FAA dude. "Do you live in L.A.?," the pilot asks. "No, anybody who wants to be anyone doesn't live in L.A.....I live in Orange County," the FAA guy says. I think I spit up a little. Orange County is rumored to be the most Republican county in the U.S. And then Mr. FAA goes on about having been "Up here in Oregon where all of the tree huggers are....." Oh boy. What a giant intelligence base we have going here, I'm thinking. But, unknown to me, the crowning glory of them all is about to happen ----

Our "C" flight attendant (works in the galley at the back of the aircraft) comes all of the way forward to introduce herself to the pilots. She's been at the job a little longer than I have an is a beautiful Vietnamese woman. She goes into the flight deck and I can overhear them doing their required preflight checklist. And it is routine that we do not interrupt this checklist...if they are in the middle of it, we wait for them to finish. Instead of wait, however, she just turned around and headed toward the back of the aircraft again. And then I hear the pilot say, "I wonder why she didn't wait for us to finish....." And, then, it happened.....The FAA dude opens his mouth and inserts his foot about as far as he could....He responds to the pilots by saying:

"I Think It's An Oriental Thing"

Pardon me? Excuse me? An Oriental thing?? What did I just hear from this arrogant man? And I lost all self control. I looked at him and asked what he had just said. I let him have it with both guns. I told him that I really had no control over what he did on his own time and at his own workplace....but how dare he come into our workplace and make inappropriate ethnic slurs about one of my coworkers. And I asked him if he knew that it was the year 2009....and that maybe he'd like to bring himself into the 21st century. I asked him if he'd make the same comment if she had been standing right there in front of him. He said he would! Ugh. This guy was a total dweeb. A world-class asshole. I told him I wanted his supervisor's name and phone number....which I now have. And then, it was time to go. I shut him up there with the pilots. I was so mad I could have spit.

The flight progressed in spite of the fact that he now didn't want the nice hot breakfast I was prepared to serve him. "No, thank you," he tells me all of a sudden.

It may be that I overreacted. My mouth gets going sometimes and I just can't quit it. But I just have no tolerance for discrimination or those who choose to take advantage of anyone because of which country they are from, the color of their skin, the church they go to, who they have chosen to sleep with, or a full list of other things. You can say a lot of things to me and I'll just think you're silly. But start in with the off-the-cuff grade school crap and you'll hear from me. I will always try to stand up for those who need to be stood up for.

By the way, I called my supervisor this afternoon and confessed my severe case of diarrhea mouth. She understands completely, believe me.


Anonymous said...

Lewis, you are really my hero. You don't even want to know what people say to me or about me as I walk out of the room!! People really need to get their heads out of their asses. Thanks so much for saying something to the FAA dude. Hugs to you!! It is time to get together for dinner!!

Ultra Dave said...

Good for you! Too bad you couldn't have thrown him out a door during the flight! Oops! did I say that out loud?

Breenlantern said...

Let's get one thing straight here: YOU DID NOT OVERREACT! THANK YOU for standing up to him and for telling him what he needed to hear. You were 100% right and he was being a totally bigoted asshole. Period.

Sexy. Smart. Brave. is there a positive quality you DON'T exude?

Dave2 said...

Overreacting would be punching the racist douchebag in the face. I think you handled it just fine!

TED said...

I hope you report him. Orange County. Geez.

Stacey said...

Good for you, bravo! One of the reasons that kind of crap is so prevalent is that too many people just let it pass. Thanks for not being one of them.

Robert said...

You did a wonderful thing Arnie. I'm very blessed that I don't hear stuff like that, as least I don't recall.

I don't even know how I would react if I hear that coming from a stranger's mouth. That is just rude with no common decency. I think sometimes people just refuse to learn because it's easier for them to simply stick to their old ways.

Thank you Arnie. You're the best!! xo, r

wcs said...

Will you be my friend?

anne marie in philly said...

you did the right thing, lewis...and hopefully your supervisor will have your back if this assweasel tries to call you out.

I once had a UPS driver make some hideous comments (read: anti-gay) about a fellow driver. after he left my office, I was so bothered by what was said that I called my UPS sales manager and reported the driver. said driver no longer works for UPS.

the hatred is out there...and DEMANDS we speak truth to power!

Lemuel said...

I hope you report him to his supervisor. His conduct and conversation are very unprofessional. I think you did the right thing.

tornwordo said...

What a douchebag. I got pissed off at my mom yesterday (she's quintessential OC) as she referred to the LA Times as a "liberal rag". I told her she can say that about a respected journalistic publication and she said, "It's my OPINION and I can say what I want!"

I told her she sounded like an idiot and that opinions should be backed up by supporting FACTS. I don't know why I'm saying this, probably since I can't on my own blog since she reads it.

I always feel dirty when I'm in Orange County. Especially John Wayne airport.

Stephen said...

Sometimes you just have to do the right thing. I think you are a hero, Lewis!
We had a customer say to some of our staff at Elephants- "you used to have cute girls on your staff...now it seems like just a bunch of little fudge packers" (for real). This was reported to me & the next time I saw him, (he was a daily regular) I told him he was 86-ed...forever.
He called & complained to the owners, who stuck by my decision, but I did sweat it out.

Stash said...

You're too polite.

I would've let him have it with both guns blazing.

Thanks for the support. :)

RAD said...

You are a class act and I love ya man! I do the same thing too...sometimes my mouth gets ahead of itself but it was all good....we all love you and your mouth too! :-)

Anonymous said...

Lewis, so proud of you. We should all stand tall and stop these ugly behaviors in our society.

Anonymous said...

YES! In a world of armchair activists, you stand and take a risk to actually speak out against discrimination that is so prevalent in out society that it is more of a threat and a "pandemic" than the swine flu!

Anonymous said...

I have just been on a course about working with people from all over the world. We have been taught that people from different cultures sometimes behave differently because of their cultural background (something that's pretty obvious). Isn't this just what the pilot was expressing?

Racial discrimination is wrong, but it doesn't mean that cultural differences don't exist (though actually the standard east Asian cultural stereotype would have had her wait when maybe she shouldn't).

What exactly was the "slur"? What it simply using the word 'Oriental'? Or it saying that 'Orientals' are less likely to hang around waiting for pilots to finish? Or was it just imply that the woman may act in a different way because she's from a different culture?

Of course, from your blog I can't tell what tone of voice the FAA guy spoke in - and the tone of voice (was he sneery?) quite possibly said it all.

I suspect your best response would have been to say "An Oriental thing? Why do you say that?" and to opened a dialog with him. As it is, the guy probably immediately went on the defensive and mentally dismissed you as a ranter.


annie said...

do i think you were ornery or out-of-line? not at all, brother dear. i hear so many crappy comments every day, it's hard to keep up with them all. thanks for standing your ground with the sad, stupid, pea-brain "assweasels". i'm proud of you all the time.

Cincinnati NAMjA said...

You go gurlll!!

Sh@ney said...

What a PIG!! You had every right to spit...That arrogance is why there is so much conflict between gender, nationality etc etc.

Hell I would not have even offered him a bite to eat!

Ur-spo said...

Indeed good for you
and even better that your supervisor stood up for you!

Steven said...

Don't worry about the diarrhea. It always ebbs and flows. You did good.

"...like a whore roping her trick down to the bed." I couldn't stop laughing when you said that.