You know the rules of the road going in

Last week, an airplane departing from Miami headed to London had to turn around after 500 miles due to an unruly first-class passenger who refused to wear a mask. The first-class ticket may have given a sense of entitlement or maybe the free drinks unleashed her inner jerk, but yet another plane had issues with a passenger. It should be noted being a jerk is not restricted to first-class as a plane has many passengers

What is frustrating to all of the other passengers is you know the rules of the road before you get on the plane, so all one has to do is abide by them. If a store says no shoes, no service, one should not be surprised if they get no service. If a club says a tie is required, one should not be surprised if the Maitre’d walks up with a selection of ties to wear for the dinner.

The same holds true if a store or airline says a mask is required. That means you should wear a mask or not be surprised if you are handed one to wear. Civility should not be an art. It should be usual and customary. That Jesus fellow said treat others like you want to be treated. So, if you are treating others poorly, it only reflects poorly on the actor not the victim. This unruly passenger will be temporarily banned from the airline pending an investigation, but is yet to be fined or charged with a crime. But, she also caused people on the plane inconvenience. If they had connections or important events, they may have missed them because of one person who chose to not follow the rules.

It truly matters not if you agree or disagree with the veracity of mask wearing. The rules you have been given say wear one to enter and be served. You may not like wearing a seatbelt, but you know that it’s a law you must wear one. On the flip side, I cannot believe there are some states that allow helmetless motorcycle riders. Given how fragile the human head is, if I rode a motorcycle in one of those states, I would be wearing a helmet even if not required. Yet, those who don’t are OK as the state permits them to ride sans helmet. Those are the rules of the road in that state.

Let me close with one final thought. People who treat wait staff, cashiers, maids, nurses, teachers, et all poorly do not impress me with some false level of importance. They actually are offensive to me. I have worked in business a long time to see how people treat others based on some perception of status, with some narrow-minded folks treating perceived subordinates worse than peers who are treated worse than more senior officials. Quite simply, being a jerk does not give you importance, it just means you are being a jerk.

38 thoughts on “You know the rules of the road going in

  1. Amen! There was a letter to the editor today in the Miami Herald that pointed out the cost of this flight turnaround. They estimated it at over $24k (fuel, gate fee, etc) without quantifying the cost to fellow passengers whose travel plans were impacted. Show me someone rude to others and I brand them an a#$hat. Great post. A big shout out and thanks to all of our service workers.

  2. MPR News with Angela Davis did a great story – “Is the pandemic causing us to behave badly?” It was interesting to listen to other people’s observations – some have witnessed the bad behavior by others, and some have behaved badly themselves. One caller commented about how service workers have always been treated terribly by certain entitled customers/patrons/clients – which is true. But it seems the current environment of contagious anger, makes it ‘easier’ for anyone to lash out and not think about the consequences of their behavior.

  3. Rose, good comment and reference to the NPR story. Treating people in service positions poorly preceded COVID, but it seems it has gotten worse as a result. Keith

  4. Note to Readers: I have written before how organizations take on the personality of its leaders. One organization I consulted with had egalitarian and approachable leaders. As a consequence, their customer facing people were customer focused. Conversely, I worked with an organization who had a line of business headed by an overbearing and antagonistic leader. As a result, his direct reports and theirs tended to be overbearing and antagonistic. Their customer service marks tended to be below average, as a result.

  5. Excellent and timely post, my friend. My concern is that this is the wave of the future where people think only of themselves. The mask rule is for the safety of ALL! The arrogance of some these days is deeply troubling and seems to be a growing trend. I haven’t been in a business for several months due to my own health issues, but last time I was in my local supermarket, in early September, I was the ONLY person in the store wearing a mask! My daughter tells me it is still that way. Failure to play by the pandemic rules is, in my book, equivalent to spitting in our faces.

  6. Reblogged this on Filosofa's Word and commented:
    Our friend Keith writes of the most recent incidence of extreme greed and arrogance, and the price many people had to pay for the idiocy of one person. Thank you, Keith for reminding us who we DON’T want to be!

    • Thanks for the reblog. My guess is fellow passengers were keenly aware of the culprit and some may have shared their displeasure. I feel sorry for those who missed connections to other cities or missed a birthday party, wedding or funeral, as a result. Keith

      • Yes, that’s exactly the problem. Also tennis players or other celebrities (or those who think they are) are struggling with this misunderstanding at times.

      • True Erika. I have written before about a study conducted by the University of Toronto and University of California at Berkeley whose conclusion is the more money you have, there is a greater propensity to cheat the system than those without so much money. The clear results even surprised the lead researchers.

  7. All excellent points Keith. This pandemic has brought out the true inner jerks in so many of our fellow Americans. I began, a long time ago, to lose faith in our fellow citizens. I don’t even like going to the grocery store anymore-only to see people sans mask, clearly in violation of the sign upon which everyone sees when entering. I do not see it ending anytime soon. I think the former president normalized being a jerk to some of these folks. No, it’s not all his fault. But he certainly carries a lot of the blame.

    • Jeff, thanks. I was trying to leave the former president out of this, but there is a reason he had the most turnover over one term. “Mercurial” is a word I have often seen used to define the working environment under this person. As attorney Thomas Wells wrote, if you are on his good side, don’t get used to it, as you won’t be there for long. Keith

      PS – his behavior reminds me of a friend who liked the office next to his volatile boss. He said his boss would storm out of his office so mad, he could not make the immediate turn into his, so he would vent to the person in the office on the other side of the story teller.

  8. Note to Readers II: I am aware of three specific examples of people being fired for being a jerk. One CEO was fired by his Board because he had a drug problem which exposed his inner-jerk. He berated staff and people were leaving in droves citing him as the reason. One person worked for a client of mine and treated our staff poorly. It turns out he also treated his colleagues poorly, so after given chances to improve, one day he was terminated.

    And, the final person was fired from two separate companies for the same reason – harassment. Not sexual harassment, but just berating all junior staff. He was fine with peers or clients, he was just a jerk to others he perceived beneath him.

    These are just three stories, but there are many more. One final story I will share relates to perception. A colleague treated Administrative Assistants poorly, which is not only unfair it is a dumb thing to do as AAs keep the boss’ schedule. After witnessing this, I suggested he try to treat this one AA better. I said John, you may think this AA is beneath you, but she and her husband are worth about $20 million, so you better be careful who you tick off,

  9. The guy probably thought they would never turn the plane around for one mask. Waiting until they were well into the trip speaks to me of premeditation. Even if he was “medicated” it sounds intentional. No idea what is being done with this guy, but I hope he is banned from ever getting on a plane again, anywhere.

    • Rawgod, I think he will face some consequences. It reminds me that colorful Southwest Airlines founder and CEO Herb Kelleher used to fire customers who were extra rude to his crew and gate staff. His staff loved him for it. Keith

      • Kelleher was a colorful character. He once learned another company was using their slogan. Instead of suing, he called the other CEO and said he would arm wrestle him for it. The other CEO was 25 years younger and in better shape, but both got free advertising as reporters showed them training, Kelleher doing curls with full bourbon bottles, while his opponent used barbells. Keith

  10. Note to Readers III: My note to Rawgod reminds me of another story where a colleague fired a client for treating him and his team poorly. Plus, he was a poor bill payer. So, he called him and said I am sending you letter saying we will no longer work with you. We will finish up what we are working on, but here are two folks who you can help you. The client pleaded with him not to do it, but he stuck to his guns.

  11. I haven’t flown on a plane since this whole thing started but it seems to me – if they don’t already – the crew should make an announcement before taking off: 1) You are required to wear a mask (I’m sure they do this part), 2) If you don’t, the plane will be force to turn around, and 3) Once the plane lands, you will be arrested and be required to make restorations for all costs incurred. (At least that’s what I’d do if I ruled the world 🙂 )

  12. Keith, on a similar incident…

    I was THRILLED to death that the Australian government sent Novak Djokovic, the Serbian 8-Time Champion of the Australian Open tennis tournament and world-ranked #1 Men’s player home… for the same type of arrogant self-perceived entitlement that you are the exception to apriori rules. I do greatly admire his gifts, talent, and skill as a pro tennis player—though Roger Federer will always be MY #1 until I’m six-feet under!—not even he should get special exclusive exemptions, just as our U.S. President(s) should not either! But that’s another Can-O-Worms isn’t it?

    Very well done Keith! 🙂

  13. That unruly passenger should be banned from ALL airlines indefinitely! She knew when she got on that plane she wasn’t going to wear a mask, so it was premeditated. If you don’t want to wear a mask, then don’t fly! Get in your car and drive, or charter a boat, or whatever it takes so you don’t inconvenience other people with your stupidity!

  14. I would like to cite a comment from the 1970s by a then old-timer:
    ‘These days everyone knows their rights, but not their responsibilities’.
    A few years ago, on an international flight some UK idiot was being obstructive (and drunk). At the next available airport (a relatively remote one on a Caribbean island) he and his luggage were dumped and the flight went on.

      • Roger, given the culprit’s ability to afford a first-class ticket, here is one from my quotable boss about people who get promoted and feel more entitled. “The higher a monkey climbs in a tree, the more it shows its ass.” Keith

    • Thanks Cindy. My initial assumption is this was a male, but realized after reading that the male gender does not hold full ownership on being a jerk. Keith

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