Thursday 18 February 2010 @ 2:16 pm
“AGAIN WITH THIS SOUTHWEST SHIT, SIR?” YES, SIR: BUT THIS IS JUST ABOUT THEIR LYING, SCUMBAG BUSINESS PRACTICES.
Someone sent me a piece from the Forbes website that said, with this whole Southwest Air thing, I’ve hurt my own brand more than theirs. So a number-cruncher at Forbes sees me as a brand, not a human being.
Dude’s obviously angling for a job at Southwest.
I’ve had much of my humanity stripped away over the last week, as people discuss me as a concept, more than a person. The Southwest Air incident (or as it’s been called in the more polite corners of the internet, “ChubbyGate”) has hit home with folks, apparently. It became an issue, splitting people into sides – and boy, had I forgotten how much the Flabby are detested. In the last few days, I’ve seen some intense hate-rhetoric online, all stemming from some subtly anti-fat propaganda that made me wonder if Goebbels had really died in the bunker, or if he’d ducked out, came to the states, and gotten a job in Dallas.
I’m fat. I don’t deny that. At all.
This wasn’t about fat. This wasn’t about me having money. This wasn’t about the frequency with which I buy two seats.
This was about a company that completely fucked up, lied, then continued to lie – all to cover it’s ass.
Seriously, all you outraged thinsters who’ve been like “Shut the fuck up, Super-Sized!”? The next time you get fucked by a credit card company, or the bank, or a department store? And you’re all pissed because you’re some little guy that the big guy shit on? Just recall Fatty’s situation. THAT IS WHAT HAPPENED. I know it’s hard to fathom how a big guy can be a little guy too, but this is the case.
Yes, I have a job that pays me handsomely, and because of this, I normally do fly on airlines for which size is never an issue. And as I’ve said repeatedly: I’ve been flying Southwest from Burbank to Oakland, SF, and Vegas for years (yes, even the FATTER years), and I’ve never had a problem (beyond the occasional disappointment in lapse of customer service that we’re all so used to, it can no longer be considered a true “problem” when traveling). But then, we really fell off a cliff.
NOT SO HONEST BLOG TO NOT SO SILENT BOB
I won’t recount the entire long, boring story, but I ask that you look at the two blogs they published on the matter: the one they put up first contains a lie:
In the third paragraph, they state “Out pilots… made the determination that Mr. Smith needed more than one seat to complete his flight.”
This is the message you want out front: THE PILOT MADE THE CALL. That makes it all very official. In a post 9/11 environment, who’s gonna question a Pilot? So when people read EVERY STORY THAT EMERGES it’s “the pilot threw him off.”
I can’t blame the media for being so easily-led: THAT’S THE BULLSHIT STORY SOUTHWEST AIR FED ME AT FIRST, TOO. And I kept asking and asking at the gate desk after I was bounced from the plane “The Pilot? Ma’am, the Pilot couldn’t see me? I’d been in my seat for 12 seconds when YOU came all the way down here. I had literally just sat down, and I couldn’t see the cockpit; how, then, could the Pilot see me to make this determination at all?
I knew this wasn’t true in the moment, I knew it wasn’t true later at the gate desk, I KNEW IT WASN’T TRUE WHEN THEY LIED ABOUT IT IN THEIR BLOG, and I knew it wasn’t true when Linda from Southwest TOLD ME ON THE PHONE it wasn’t true. I was so relieved that someone at Southwest knew, too, and was saying it to me. I thought it meant they’d clear it all up.
They didn’t. They issued another blog. It was heavily-lawyered, with an admission of something bad happening, but no acceptance of guilt in the matter. “At that time, our Employees made the decision to remove Kevin after a quick judgment call that he might have needed more than one seat for his comfort and those seated next to him.” The next sentence reads “Although I’m not here to debate the decision our Employees made…” Debate? Lady, how about just admit in print that they fucked-up, for starters. “I can tell you,” she continues. “That I for one have learned a lot today.”
Me too, Linda: I learned it’s impossible for these class-less pieces of shit corporate pigs to simply admit to a mistake one of their employees made, and apologize for standing behind a lie in the first place, and then not bothering to apologize for that lie – y’know, the one that has thin people everywhere hating me. More than usual.
THE PILOT LIE AND HOW IT GREW LIKE MY WAIST-LINE.
And I’m not talking about apologizing for embarrassing me, as they have repeatedly; I’M TALKING ABOUT APOLOGIZING FOR LYING, AND TELLING THE WORLD ON YOUR BLOG THAT I’M KNOWN TO BUY TWO TICKETS (how am I known for this again? that SModcast followed your blog), AND THAT THE PILOT EJECTED ME BECAUSE I DIDN’T FIT IN ONE SEAT. Never mind that I adhered to your policy of lowering the arm rest: you ignored it and still pulled me off the plane. And then, rather than sulk about it, I did what my Mother & Father raised me to do: not take shit – especially from business fuckers (even if they do hide behind a bullshit heart logo).
Now here’s the same blog as above (the first blog, not Linda’s follow-up blog), as it currently appears on their website.
Check that third paragraph again. Now it’s “we” made a decision.
So the first lie’s been altered, without so much as a mention of a correction having been made; no mention of nearly 48 hours of them standing behind the position that the pilot threw me off, which was their bastion of authority: THE PILOT MAKES ALL DECISIONS! Because that’s how you get people on your side: you give the impression of “If this fat-fuck wins, then the terrorists win; because only a terrorist would counter the Pilot.” If the Pilot said it, as Southwest maintained, then I truly must be too fat for one seat, and this is simply an embarrassing matter of someone fat having to have “the talk”. Excellent cover story – especially when I’m Tweeting up a storm about how the Pilot booted me (because that’s what I was repeatedly told by the Southwest Air staff; they even gave me his name).
Now, I don’t know what happened next, but I’m sure the Pilot was like “You fuckers better fix this, because I had nothing to do with it, and you threw me under a bus and lied to this fat guy with the big mouth.”
So, when I thought Linda and Southwest were interested in putting the truth into their followup blog, they were actually only interested in putting out a partial truth: the pilot didn’t do this. They neglect to follow that with “Even though we told you he did, both in person and printed, public form.” These artful dodgers were able to use that blog post to clear the Pilot and STILL maintain this was all my fault for being fat. Way to go, Cap’n: you’re cleared for landing (though, if I’m him? No WAY I continue working for a company so quick to make me the scapegoat).
Funny thing: when you make any correction, shouldn’t you note it? It’s not noted in their rewrite, and it’s damn skippy not noted in the date. See how they both still have the same date, even though one of them contains UPDATED (yet guilt-admission-free) INFORMATION.
These fuckers started all this with a lie. I know everyone wants to say “It’s because you’re fat.” I am fat. And fuck, has this ever opened me up to the plight of the fat traveller (which is weird, as I’ve always been one myself). But that’s not why I was bounced.
From Linda’s blog…
So if it wasn’t that woman at the front gate who issued me the standby ticket and it wasn’t the Pilot, which Employee made this determination? The dude in the jetway – the one who called me “Revenue” (whole story available on SMod106) Was it because he didn’t like my joke, or was I just guilty of being fat while coming down that jetway?
All I know is JETWAY-GUY DIDN’T SEE ME IN MY SEAT EITHER – at least not until the desk agent was telling me I had go (so that’d be AFTER the fact). So when the Pilot apparently called for push-back and a judgment call had to be made, a dude and a lady who weren’t even on the actual aircraft when this push-back was called for are the only two “employees” Linda blogged about who could have made this bad call. Add to this? There are other, wider folks already sandwiched between people on the plane. I’m sorry: if that computes for you, then you just wanna hate a fat person. And that’s fine; but that just allows a major corporation to continue to obscure the fact that they fucked up, lied about it, and continue to lie about it.
Lots of thin cats going “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt, Tubby,” I’ll bet. “THIS IS BECAUSE YOU’RE FAT!”
And you’d be right, I’ll bet: that dude in the jetway might’ve just looked at me, said “Fat”, didn’t bother to see me in the seat with the arm rests down, sitting as uncomfortably as every other passenger on the plane (thin or fat) seated between two people. Profiled. I feel like I’m John Travolta in that one flick nobody saw.
So Big Business wins again, spreading the Gospel of “Look, I’m Sorry – He’s Just Too Fat. And Don’t We All Hate Fat People Anyway? Srsly.” As I’ve said, I’ll carry this shit with me like herpes for the rest of my life, regardless of my waistline size. All because a shitty organization didn’t have the simple southern decency to admit they were wrong. REALLY, REALLY WRONG. It blows.
But y’know what? Here’s the good that came out of it: other stories started to emerge.
Like Natali’s – the girl who was on the next Southwest flight with me who was treated way fucking worse. And all the stories are horrible and share one detail: an inconsistent policy regarding Fatties (or Customers of Size as it’s faux-litely worded on their website). Here’s why…
THE PROBLEM IS SOUTHWEST AIR’S BULLSHIT, UNCLEAR CUSTOMER OF SIZE POLICY THAT’S ENFORCED RANDOMLY. I’LL LAY IT OUT BELOW.
I looked really hard, all over the Southwest website, and finally found a FAQ re: their size policy (the one that’s not printed anywhere else I can find). Since Southwest Air is known to alter the content of their postings to suit any cracks in their story, I’ve included screen-caps, just in case.
See? The armrest is the definitive gauge for a Customer of Size. But this isn’t true, as I DID fit between the armrests – just like many larger passengers also on the flight (including “Please don’t tell…” himself). And still, I got booted.
What, then dictates the policy of size? Who calls it? And how would you even know about it, had I not been bounced off a plane? I’m sure Southwest makes it clear somewhere…
Oh, I see. Hide the info because it’d be bad for you to be so up front about how shitty and sub-human you treat fat people. But no worries: Southwest Air has no problem telling you you’re fat for one seat on their airline, right to your face, in front of hundreds. Even if it’s not true. Then, as an apology, they’ll tell people that you need two seats – even thought it’s still not true, and only makes my case seem weaker. That’s Luv. As Minnie Pearl would say, “How-dy!”
Change your seats or change your policy, Southwest. I know you dismiss it all by saying less than half a percent of your customers are affected by this policy… BUT THEY ARE STILL YOUR PAYING CUSTOMERS. TREAT THEM WITH RESPECT OR LOSE THEM.
200 POUNDS OR MORE? I WOULDN’T GO NEAR SOUTHWEST AIR AGAIN.
Too risky. Obviously, nobody in that organization wants to be in charge of/institute a clear/firm/universal Customer of Size policy. And you may be quick to point out that I’m not in charge of myself, in terms of putting on the pounds; but I’m not selling seats on myself (contrary to what Forbes seems to think). I’m not begrudging the thin their airline (suggestion for new slogan: SOUTHWEST – PUT DOWN THAT FUCKING CHEESECAKE, LARD-ASS!), I’m just asking all the outraged thin people who want all the fat people on airplanes to die (wish it was “diet” instead, but it’s just “die”) to put yourself… not so much in my oversized clown-pants (aka jorts, shants) or my mouth… but in my shoes (10′s, not wide): if the airline let you get on the plane and then some dude who’s not even the pilot – who maybe just didn’t like the look of you – decided to fuck with your day… well, wouldn’t you go ape-shit on ‘em? With or without Twitter followers, I’d raise a stink.
But here I sit, with Forbes turning me into a less-than-human brand, and Southwest turning me into the Fattest Man in the Sky – neither true. Doesn’t matter: it’s easy copy. Fat dude thrown off plane for being fat. Fuck the truth; this is funnier.
THIS IS NOT “LOOSE CHANGE”. THIS SHIT SOMEHOW ACTUALLY HAPPENED.
Everyone keeps saying “Sue! Sue!” Jesus – I don’t want their money; I just want them to admit they fucked up, their stupid policy is fucked up, and they’re sorry to me, Natali, and anybody else they gave shit for no reason. And I Tweeted about it. Lots. And rather than simply handle it, they lied. And lied. And lied. They made this an issue of fat, instead of the issue of a growing lie they told that resulted in the worst example of customer service since Fords Theater sold Lincoln a seat. The resulting feeling in the press: fuck fat people. We’re still allowed to make fun of them. And if you eat that many donuts, you’re bound to take a bunch of shit(s).
Fuck you, media, for not looking any deeper than the sound bite that’ll sell a falsehood. I’ve been here telling you the other side of the story for a few days, and you’d rather dress people up in fat suits and guess at my weight. I’m starting to feel like Jim Garrison: look at the crazy, fat nut, pointing out inconsistencies in an official story – that crackpot. But I’ll take “crackpot” over the human-weasels that say I did this for publicity. Sweet whistling Moses – only a thin person could ever think any fat person would want this much attention called to their size.
But sincere thanks goes out to my family, especially Jen. You know how bad it was? My wife actually laid down with me to watch THE BOYS ON THE BUS – a documentary about the 1986 Edmonton Oilers. It’s a subject she has zero interest in, but still managed to show interest for my benefit – without being pushed off our bed my my undulating rolls. The kid’s been great through this, too: when she found out GOOD MORNING AMERICA (whose interview request – like ALL the interview requests “publicity-seeking” me received over this thing – had been declined by phone) had showed up at our front door, she said “How tacky…” Out of the mouths of babes, as they say. Love her.
Big thanks also go out to my Twitter family. You’ve all been so supportive and understanding, and you’ve actually tracked ALL the elements of the story, not just the SWA Party line (shit, you’re probably the only ones who read this far). Your words have meant the world to me, but most importantly? You gave me somewhere to go to get away from all this crap, where I could just do what I like to do: Tweet like Hell.
But, as with all of life’s big, bad boo-boos, I’d have to say it was Mom who ultimately made it all better – in an email that reminded me of why I’m in this mess in the first place: not because I’m fat, but because the big guy (ironically not me in this case) fucked the little guy (somehow, me). Plain and simple.
This is copied directly from her email (hence the all-caps; fuck you – she’s in her 60′s, so all caps helps her see the letters better). Mom wrote:
I know I’ve won the lottery of life, and I try never to bitch about anything that happens to me because of that. I realize I’m over-blessed. And like they say in GOODFELLAS, everyone takes a beating sometime: apparently, I’ve gotta pay a little now for being lippy and fat and happy with my life/work.
ALMOST DONE. I SWEAR.
I’m sorry – I gotta bitch about this Southwest Air thing because it’s how I was raised: if someone fucks you, and you don’t wanna be fucked, start screaming. So I screamed about getting fucked against my will, and a bunch of people – even an entire airlines – said “You brought this on yourself!” without realizing they’re championing not a fat guy being thrown off a plane, but a big corporation fucking over a customer.
Some people are okay with this treatment of a paying customer because a) I’m fat and b) I’ve got money. Fine: I’ll take my lumps. But fair warning: that kind of apathy will most certainly result in you finding yourself in a similar situation one day – one that may not be about your weight, but some other unclear, un-posted, bullshit rule they can throw at you just so the plane can get off on time. And if you bitch about it? They’re gonna run with a grade-school classic: “HEY EVERYBODY! LOOK AT THE FAT GUY! LOOK AT HIM BECAUSE HE’S FAT!” Clever. But, hey – apparently, it still works.
I am both fat and financially comfortable. But I don’t care if you’re Bill Gates: if ANY sort of customer-service-based business with far more means than you takes fucks you over and then lies about it to make themselves look better, as a consumer, you have a right to make noise – REGARDLESS OF THE SIZE OF YOUR BANK ACCOUNT.
Here’s the thing: I’ll lose weight (I have in the past, I was planning to again after my COP OUT press obligations), and my appearance may change, but I’m not throwing away the lessons of my parents (which have gotten me pretty far in life, just because you wanna hide your lie, Southwest. And even better: I’ll get thinner, but you’ll always be an untrustworthy company with zero character and integrity in the personal responsibility department. And while “personal responsibility” may sound really ironic coming from a fat guy, just because I like to eat and not exercise, that doesn’t mean I have zero sense of personal responsibility…
It means I’m the average American (2 in 3 Americans are obese/overweight). And as you’ve repeatedly let me and everyone else know via your blogs, your planes are not made for the average American anymore.
Your rates may be low and you may be convenient, but it’s at the cost of customer service. You forgot the most important lesson: the customer pays your salary. This is an epic fail of customer service, compounded with half-truths and bald-faced lies to protect the adequate sheen on that plastic little heart of yours. Keep calling me fat, but me and you (in the person of Linda the blogger, the Pilot, the gate-checker, and the jetway-dude) know the truth: I may be fat, but that had NOTHING to do with why I was ejected. I passed all your printed (printed way out of the way, for none to see, mind you) regulations regarding the arm rest. You lied about a customer to save your own asses.
Southwest, you’re the Annie Wilkes of the Sky: all nice and homey up front, then BAM, MISTER MAN! You hobble a guy on the way out the door. Fucking Dirty Birds.
(I apologize for the length of this. I’m a writer: not necessarily a good one, but as we’ve learned this week, I’m big on volume. Fuck, I can’t wait for tomorrow. C’mon, Tiger: make it juicy, sir…)
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