Lots of folks still telling me to stop crying and lose weight – as if that’s what this was all about. Easier to tell the lie about the whiney Fatso than the truth that someone at Southwest fucked up. “Sure, someone fucked up, Lardo” You’re saying. “You and your fat gut! This is YOUR fault because you’re fat!”
Once again: I know I’m fat. The point of all this? I’m not too fat for Southwest Air, yet someone deemed me so. *sigh*
Then, suddenly? A glimmer of hope: a little after 12 noon (roughly 48 hrs after being deemed Too Fat To Fly), Linda (a rep from Southwest Airlines) called my house.
Very sweet, warmly compassionate and apologetic, Linda assured me they’d been trying to track me down for at least a day, but my cell phone was indicating a full voicemail box.
First, there was the serious “Mea culpa” – very sincere, very meaningful, from an actual individual who didn’t then spend the next two paragraphs telling me it was still all my fault because I’m fat.
In fact, Linda admitted (without urging) that the whole situation was handled really badly, and that the blog write-up was in error.
Linda told me that, before I got anywhere near the plane (remember: I was hoping to get on standby), they were having a space issue on board with another passenger who’d purchased two seats, and they were having a problem moving already-seated passengers to accommodate this person. Enter me, who – Linda admitted – WAS NOT A PROBLEM. She fully acknowledged that I wasn’t bounced by the Pilot… BECAUSE THE PILOT PROBABLY DIDN’T EVEN SEE ME.
According to Linda, with the melee surrounding boarding and finding a second seat for the other passenger, the Pilot called for a quick settlement of any outstanding issues so that they might take off. And even though I was already planted in my arm-rest lowerable, seat-belt-buckleable seat, I got the hook.
So the Pilot DIDN’T bounce me because I couldn’t fit in the seat. In fact, it sounds like the Pilot had very little to do with bouncing me at all. And Linda said she just found this out today, as they gather info from all involved.
But if that’s the case, then who made that call to yank me? Someone had to actually point a finger and say “Him. He goes.” And not only that, but they then stood behind a fabrication that I was being ejected because I was too fat for my seat.
Regardless, I thanked Linda and told her she was the nicest Southwestern employee I’d met in the last 43 hrs. And then, I asked when Southwest was going to update their blog, to which she said soon, and we hung-up pleasantly. And as pleasant as Linda was, clearly the notion of me going on Larry King scared the shit out of somebody over there.
I was very nice but very firm/clear with Linda: Southwestern needs to make this right. And “right” is Southwestern falling on their sword over a situation THEY CREATED and continued to mismanage for nearly 48hrs.
So I swore to Linda, up and down “Get me a document to sign, and I’ll swear on my child’s life and penalty of all I own that I’ll never sue your Airlines. But just PUT THE FUCKING TRUTH OUT THERE THAT I’M NOT TOO FAT TO FLY, AND THAT THIS WAS ALL AN UNFORTUNATE ERROR ON SOUTHWESTERN’S PART.”
She called me a little bit ago to see if I’d read the piece. I put her on hold, quickly read it, then got back on the horn.
“Linda – there’s nothing about me not being Too Fat To Fly,” I said.
“The people around you said they had to lean over to make room for you,” Linda offered.
“Linda, they didn’t! The older lady was leaning against the window like she was gonna nap, and the lady to my left was already leaning toward the aisle. I would never pick a seat that might possibly make me look even fatter because I don’t fit in it or something.”
“That’s the report I have,” she continued, then sighed and added “This is so embarrassing to talk about.”
“Wait – what people around me?” I asked.
“The people seated next to you.”
“You guys went to their houses and interviewed them?”
“Then where’d that statement come from?”
“Others people around you.”
“Linda, there was nobody but me, the two ladies, and Suzanne. Are you telling me this is Suzanne’s report?”
“The report we received said the ladies were leaning away from you.”
“They were already leaning when I sat down! They didn’t lean because of me! I even asked them both if I was a problem. But you said you took their statements, and now you’re saying they weren’t interviewed at all. You said we’d get to the bottom of who made the decision to boot me, since it WASN’T the Pilot.”
And Linda apologized and pointed out the blog apologies for putting me on and taking me off the plane, as well as the refunded fares.
“But the last paragraph is still all about your two seat rule. By including it, you guys are still saying I was Too Fat To Fly – or at least NOT correcting it. You even say ‘You’re not here to debate the decision the Employees made.’ But when we spoke, you told me they were wrong, and THAT’S why I was happy and ready to drop all this. I don’t want your money, I just want you to put in print what you told me: that I was grabbed because I was the last guy on, not because I didn’t fit with the arm rests down, or because I couldn’t buckle the seat belt. Because I did. And we both know this.”
I feel like a broken record with that stupid “But I could buckle and fit” shit. Pathetic, right? Grasping at any dignity straws. But that’s what you do when you’re kinda stripped of your dignity.
I could hear it in her voice: the sad frustration. Somewhere between the two phone calls, the bounty that was hinted at got a lot smaller. And while the apology is a little deeper now and more sincerely-worded than it was in the initial “apology” blog (thank you, Linda), it still infers that I need two seats to fly on Southwest Airlines.
I begged her to just put the truth in the about me and the seat belt and arm rest – at least admit you guys were wrong: that I wasn’t Too Fat To Fly. And while in phone call #1 it seemed promising, it didn’t happen. There was some standard corp-speak about how they’re going to examine their “Person of Size” policy, and how they know it needs change. I sincerely hope it does. That shit with the Girl on the flight was just heartbreaking and shameful.
But to be honest, I was looking for a little exoneration so I didn’t have to keep exonerating myself. And while Linda was kind and respectful, if they’re gonna stick with this “Well… he needed two seats…” shit, then we’re just back to square one.
You guys screwed up, SWA; why’s it so hard to own up to it? Now I’m gonna carry this Too Fat To Fly shit around like herpes for the rest of my life, and it was never even true.
So, Linda: I appreciate the effort you made, the time you spent with me on the phone, and the work you put into this. You, too, were a reasonable cat during our conversation.
But wrapping up with a repeating of that 2 seat policy (the one THAT HAS NO BEARING ON MY CASE) is a reminder that you guys haven’t learned anything: you’re still blaming it on the Fatty. Still, you tried. Thank you for that, Linda – and for being human.
Southwest, I appreciate you refunding my airfare. But if you’re not gonna admit I wasn’t Too Fat To Fly, then I’ll cover it.
But, folks? Tomorrow? Let’s Tweet about other stuff, shall we? This is starting to taste mediciney and fruitless.
“Well it proves one thing, Mr. Hooper. It proves that you wealthy college boys don’t have the education enough to admit when you’re wrong.-Quint, Jaws.