Will Everyone Please Calm Down?


I worked with someone the other day and he was so high-strung, it seemed he was either having a bad day, or one of those people who is very confrontational.

He came to get me and asked if I would be the mediator in a situation he was in with a passenger. He had explained that he had offered this person a meal choice, and when he was told it was no longer available, the passenger became irate, and told him he was obnoxious.

Now, my flying partner was furious, and told him, that “he was going to turn this plane around and have him taken off!”I thought this a bit drastic for this situation and it seemed it could have been handled differently, however, I wasn’t there. So, when he asked, if I thought he should approach the man again, I said, “well, if this man has accepted your offer of the meal, why stir things up again?”

He didn’t seem to want to listen to this advice. I watched his face, as he seemed to be mulling over his own choice of words. “I know what I’m going to say,” he said. “I’m going to tell him, that I hope I’m not going to have any more problems. And I would like you to stand there as a witness.” Hmm, I’m just thinking, I don’t know if I want to be a witness to any of this.

So, I decide to be the one to diffuse the whole episode. What I witnessed was something that got totally out of control. I walked ahead of him and almost made it into the galley, hoping he really wasn’t going to say anything. But he did. He seemed like he was about to change his mind,, and stopped. “Listen, sir, “I hope I’m not going to have a problem with you.” “What? Are you serious? Do you believe this guy?” He looks at the seat partner next to him incredulously and says, I can’t believe this! Now this is bordering on harassment!”

My flying partner says, “Sir I just want to make sure we’re clear on this, and that you understand, and you call me obnoxious. I don’t need to be called names!” “Well you are obnoxious!” He says. “Why because you don’t get your choice of meals?” “No, it’s your whole attitude!”

Then the man next to him, looks at him and says, I think you should stay quiet and I’ll speak.” He looks at my flying partner and says, “listen I have flown over a million miles and I’ve never seen anyone not get their meal choice. The way you came to this gentleman and offered him a choice, and then left, and came back and told him it was no longer available, it just didn’t make sense.”

The flight attendant gets hyped up again, and he says, while pointing his finger, unless he can follow the instructions I give him, I’m going to have the pilots turn this plane around! I will not be talked to like this!”

I stepped in at this point and said, “I think most people do not understand that there is a certain protocol which we must follow and it is a meal choice according to status. We usually offer a second choice, in case the first is no longer available. It is company policy. And yes, many times a customer has had to take their second choice. But I think, my partner’s real issue is the fact that he felt personally attacked by being called, “obnoxious,” when he was only doing his job. It seems both of you are very emotional right now and this is not a good time to deal with this. Yes, the customer had agreed, “I shouldn’t have called him “obnoxious, I meant his behavior was obnoxious.” “Well,”my colleague said, “you should have said that.”  “Yes, but,” and then it continued. Before I knew it, I heard the customer saying he was going to be writing our CEO. And the other flight attendant was responding, “Yes, then you need to do that!”

As I was walking away, the customer sidelined me and said, “Hey, am I crazy? What is wrong with him?” Refusing to take sides, and knowing that they both were very keyed up, I said, “no you’re not crazy, and smiled the most neutral smile that I had. Then he said, “Who’s the head flight attendant?” I saw the extreme look of disappointment as I delivered the final blow, “He is.” “Are you kidding me?”

As I was standing there, I was thinking, “This is exactly like the fights my son and my  mentally challenged brother have, and I’m the referee. I stand as the buffer. I refuse to take sides and it’s all so silly. The thought of turning a plane full of people around because a guy didn’t get his meal choice, was just as ridiculous turning a plane full of people because of someone being called obnoxions.

I just kept thinking of that mantra in the movie from Anger Management:

I saw two guys in the last row,just laughing. As I walked up they said, we were so curious about the action up there. I said it was a scene straight from Anger Management. “I know.” The guy said. “I could see that flight attendants hands going and his finger-pointing!”  “Oh, at one point the passenger even called it a bad comedy.”I said And we started laughing.

So, I had to think about Jack Nicholson’s treatment plan as an emergency backup if this should ever happen again. If I am ever in this situation, I am simply going to give the hotheads instructions to begin singing, “Im so pretty, I’m so pretty….you know the rest. Now one can stay angry when they’re singing that song, and that’s a fact!

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