I missed memo about not minding your own business.
Holy crap, I have just had a close encounter with crazy, ya’ll. I was flying standby so I was lingering around the customer service counter here in the Southwest terminal and I couldn’t help but overhear an exchange between another customer and the gate agent. I couldn’t help but overhear because the customer’s voice was getting louder and louder. As she escalated the volume, she also intensified the vitriol. She was so rude and insulting, while the Southwest agent, to my amazement and to her credit, remained pretty calm.
The customer wanted Southwest to guarantee that her completely capable teenage daughter would be escorted off the plane and delivered to a specific person at her destination. Since the daughter (who was standing there dying a slow death of shame) was not booked as an unaccompanied minor, Southwest simply couldn’t make this guarantee nor could they assume the liability.
After listening to this exchange for several minutes, I couldn’t help myself…I piped up and said, “Ma’am, you’re insulting this woman (the SW agent); if you’re so concerned about your daughter flying alone, you should book a ticket and go with her.” Well, that’s when all hell started breaking loose. Of course, the first thing out of this lady’s mouth was:
“Why don’t you just mind your business?”
As a rule, I am not a minder of my own business. When it comes to other people’s lives, I’m interested, curious, and I’ll admit it, a bit officious and annoying. I suppose in the small transactions that make up daily life, it’s probably mostly unnecessary and maybe even inappropriate for me to butt in. But in this instance, I felt justified. By remaining silent, I felt like I would be kind of complicit with the abuse this lunatic was slinging at the gate agent. In a small way, it was one of these situations…
The gate agent was limited by her role; she couldn’t haul off and tell this woman that she was bat-shit crazy and that she needed to settle down. But I could, and I pretty much did. I can’t say my interjection did anything to help resolve the situation, but at least I deflected the red-hot heat of crazy off that gate agent for a second, which was all the time she needed to call security.
Once the security guards were on the scene, this woman started proclaiming that she worked for the queen and that the military would be getting involved in the situation. Holy guacamole. It was becoming increasingly clear that this was no mere anger-management problem, but perhaps something a bit more serious. The security guards eventually cuffed her and led her out of the terminal; my guess is that she was whisked away to get 5150’d.
Aye, yi, yi…what a scene. Thinking back, it seems like the outcome was probably foregone. This lady was probably a ticking time bomb, and perhaps it was good she was in an airport when she went nuclear–these folks are trained and equipped to deal with all sorts of emergencies. I’m glad I spoke up for the gate agent, whose blotchy face later betrayed the angry tears she was trying to hold back while she was accused of being uneducated and brain-damaged. It was just so out-of-bounds that I just had to speak up. And for my trouble, I scored some free drink coupons, so there you go.
While arguing with a crazy person is usually fruitless…
…I will nonetheless continue to meddle in these situations. Next time I might get my ass kicked, or I might get a free plane ticket. Memo received.