Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Oh, Snap!




On a recent JetBlue flight, a flight attendant was treated rudely by a passenger, not, I suspect, for the first time, and as the plane taxied to the terminal, he grabbed the intercom and screamed obscenities into it, grabbed himself a beer, pulled the cord for the emergency chute and slid on out of there, and wouldn't you love to have been on that flight? I don't know what the passengers did, but I would clapped until my palm-prints were polished off.

It's the whole thing. It's the jerkwad passenger getting her what-for, it's the tedium of airplane travel utterly relieved in one instant, it's the brilliant means of exit. It is the rare soul who hasn't dreamt of going out in a blaze of glory and saying what he really thinks when he couldn't take one more day at work. But with an intercom? And a cushy bouncy sliding board? And a beer? Brilliant.

At the post office, even those of us who were not disgruntled had to be on the lookout for the ones who were likely to snap. The official post office line is that we don't have any more people snapping than in any other workplace, which would be true if it weren't false. We were all seriously nuts. Some arrived nuts on their first day and others had nuttiness thrust upon them. I don't actually understand it, having always thought it was a rather pleasant and straightforward job, but there were an astonishing number of people around who were royally pissed off at everybody:  fellow workers, customers, and definitely the bosses. I believe most of those came pre-packaged with rage and continued to sharpen their own edges as time went on and it became clear that no one ever gets fired. It could be anything that sets them off. "These goddam letters," they'd say, flinging them aside. Honey? Did you think we built space ships here?

I was crossing the Steel Bridge one day on my bicycle when the horns went off indicating the span was going to be raised, and we should all wait behind the pair of closing gates. Another bicyclist got trapped between the gates--it was confusing--and the bridge tender, who had a microphone, bellowed at him. "Dumbass" was the nicest word that spewed out of his mouth for a full minute. Then he opened up the appropriate gate to let him back out, telling him to get the **** off his bridge and don't ever come the **** back. It was loud. It was like the voice of God on the day His team lost the pennant. And I thought:  here this bridge tender had probably raged his way out of thirty jobs a year and finally found one where all he had to do was sit in a little box by himself and make the bridge go up and down, and he couldn't manage it. He could have been a great letter carrier.

They might say otherwise, but there isn't a mail carrier in America who hasn't sketched out a plan for what he's going to do when the shots ring out. There aren't a lot of options. We all sort our mail into big metal cases with enough room underneath to crawl under and possibly hide; but that's the area we keep tubs  of mail for people who are on vacation. One too many vacationing customers, and the whole scheme falls apart. And most people don't take it well when we explain, as their official letter carrier, that they can't go on vacation.

After the employee has flipped out and done what he could with his assortment of firearms, they always interview the survivors and his neighbors. A lot of times anyone could see it coming. But sometimes people say "I just don't understand it. He was always such a quiet fellow, kept to  himself."

Shit. You know how many of those people we have down there?

18 comments:

  1. Just last week I was involved in a "bike rage" incident. One of my pet peeves is (are?) cyclists who breeze right through stop lights without stopping. They give the rest of us a bad name.

    One such went right through a flashing 4 way stop light while I was waiting for my turn (and a car was waiting across from me). As the fellow went by (perpendicular to my path), I said, "nice stop". He said something farther down the block that I could not hear, but he didn't sound happy. I tooled on down the street, with my dog trotting beside me.

    This fellow, who obviously has anger issues, went considerably out of his way to come around several blocks so that he could ride directly toward me, about 3 blocks from the stop light. He pulled very close to me as he sped by (about a foot away) and tried to hock a loogie at me. Missed, of course. I didn't react at all, nor look back at him, but thought it was rather amusing. I am glad that he didn't have a gun, or go after my dog! What an unhappy person he must be!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sometimes I wonder if those people who let it all out are less likely to take guns to kill indiscriminately. In any event, I do wonder what I would do in some situations. Hopefully I would stay conscious enough to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. But until you're there, how can you know for sure?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Elizabeth BrewsterAugust 25, 2010 at 9:36 AM

    Flight attendant would be at the top of my list of "never in a million years" jobs. I would way prefer rat-catcher, cockroach trainer, or Britney Spears' assistant.

    At school we now have "Active Shooter Drills" where we lock the doors and close the blinds and hide under the desks. I think in the event of a true emergency, I would figure out the running and hiding part all on my own.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm so glad sheep can't shoot. Surely.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I guess I can say I was one of those snapped people last year.. I worked for a place for 7 years, with 4 bosses.. all at one time bosses. Everyday was one Boss said this to do.. Why are you doing this said another boss. No I need this done boss. In Feb 2009. I got my purse out, Said " I will not be Back" ! and lefted. They told everyone I snapped !!! Oh NO!!! They saw the good side of me.. It could have been worse.. LOL I loved your post!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I would like to report at this time that retired people are unsnappable. Ahhh!

    ReplyDelete
  7. It was a brilliant exit, no doubt. But who will take a chance on hiring him in the future? Prospective employers may wonder if he may pull the same stunt on them if he stresses out again. Sadly, that's one aspect of "quiet desperation" that keeps so many workers on the job. I've had my own "Blaze of Glory" fantasies on the job as well, but with a mortgage to pay and many hobbies off-the-job to indulge in, all I can do is grin and bear it. (Well, also whine and complain and kvetch...)

    ReplyDelete
  8. In my small, rural post office we used to have a postmaster that we all called the "Postal-Nazi". Kind of like Seinfeld's "Soup Nazi." This guy was so mean. We were all relieved when he retired. Glad you made it through safely to retire and tell the tale.

    ReplyDelete
  9. A friend of ours rents movies through Netflix. She was noticing that often it took almost a week for her DVD to make it back to Netflix before they sent another one to her. Curious, she asked her postal carrier if he might have any insight on why it takes so long for her finished movies to get back to Netflix.

    Her carrier said that all those returning videos in the PO get sorted into a bin which goes back to Netflix daily. He said he would inquire about it.

    She never did get a response... although immediately after posing her question ALL her Netflix returns started arriving back at the company the following day. Interesting!!

    ReplyDelete
  10. WTF? Speich and MO synchronized casing?

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hi sweetie--yes, actually that is a depiction of the Postal Wax Museum.

    And Robert? I don't even want to think what was happening with those Netflix. Gad.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hence, the expression "going postal." Sorry, it had to be said.
    True true on retired folk being unsnappable.
    Except I can still get really peeved at dumb-ass drivers.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I suggest a more PC term for going postal, since it isn't only postal workers who go postal:

    "Self-directed downsizing"

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thanks, Charlie. We may not be the only ones who go postal, but we sure put our own stamp on it.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Yes, you've been pushing the envelope.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I suggest a more PC term for going postal, since it isn't only postal workers who go postal:

    "Self-directed downsizing"

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hi sweetie--yes, actually that is a depiction of the Postal Wax Museum.

    And Robert? I don't even want to think what was happening with those Netflix. Gad.

    ReplyDelete