Couple seeks apology from American Airlines after insensitive message left on luggage

Discussion in 'American Airlines | AAdvantage' started by sobore, Mar 27, 2014.  |  Print Topic

  1. sobore
    Original Member

    sobore Gold Member

    Messages:
    12,421
    Likes Received:
    33,847
    Status Points:
    16,520
    http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/story?section=news/local&id=9480789

    The note is just five words long but it was stinging to a deaf Houston couple returning from their vacation in Hawaii.

    Just back from a Hawaiian vacation, Angela Huckaby and James Moehle's pictures, souvenirs and smiles tell a story that needs no words. It was wonderful. It was his first ever airline trip and first vacation in 16 years, and the big island lived up to its billing.

    But if lost luggage on the flight home didn't sour it, a note left on them definitely did.

    "It was just outrageous and cruel and unnecessary," said Moehle's mother, Kay Moehle.

    http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/story?section=news/local&id=9480789
     
  2. flyforawg

    flyforawg Silver Member

    Messages:
    551
    Likes Received:
    872
    Status Points:
    770
    Mom wants the author of the note fired?! I don't understand the average american's bloodthirsty approach for slights real and imagined. Clearly a poor choice of words in a customer facing scenario, but to desire to deprive a person of his livelihood is silly.
     
    paladin87, WilliamQ and LETTERBOY like this.
  3. newbluesea
    Original Member

    newbluesea Gold Member

    Messages:
    2,687
    Likes Received:
    4,743
    Status Points:
    2,570
    I agree.. in fact I had to think very hard as to what I myself would put on the note if I had written it ...perhaps " please text, unable to speak and hear" but is that really much more sensitive?
    In any event the note was obviously not directed at the passengers.
     
  4. uggboy
    Original Member

    uggboy Gold Member

    Messages:
    50,183
    Likes Received:
    133,438
    Status Points:
    20,020
    Ditto +1 While I'm not deaf to 100%, I'm deaf on one ear and must live with tinitus 24/7/365. Yes, it's unacceptable in this day and age to receive such a note.
     
  5. FetePerfection
    Original Member

    FetePerfection Silver Member

    Messages:
    454
    Likes Received:
    981
    Status Points:
    700
    I don't believe the note was written with malicious intent, just thoughtless words. I sincerely hope the writer isn't fired. Edit to add, the writer used "Please" which makes me think he/she is a polite, civilized individual and not a barbarian. Retraining definitely in order.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2014
    WilliamQ, LETTERBOY and flyforawg like this.
  6. Flyer1976
    Original Member

    Flyer1976 Gold Member

    Messages:
    28,247
    Likes Received:
    33,912
    Status Points:
    20,020
    I wouldn't wish anyone ill will as to terminate their employment but I would reasonably expect that companies improve training for their customer facing employees and their contract vendors.
     
  7. uggboy
    Original Member

    uggboy Gold Member

    Messages:
    50,183
    Likes Received:
    133,438
    Status Points:
    20,020
    Awareness and sensitivity aren't the strong points anymore even when trained in a way to be knowledgeable with the issues at hand, that's true in nearly every sector now incl. customer services. IMHO, it's not good enough to simply overlook such notes, indeed more training is required and this should incl. ethics as well.
     
    sobore and Flyer1976 like this.
  8. daninstl

    daninstl Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,288
    Likes Received:
    1,677
    Status Points:
    1,120
    I can't believe this made the news. Typical local TV station that jumped to conclusion without any editorial review.
    Would it have been more sensitive to just not put any notice on the tag? Just let the hard working bag delivery person (yes those folks work hard with terrible hours) show up at the door at like 3am and only find then that they may not be able to communicate.
     
  9. flyforawg

    flyforawg Silver Member

    Messages:
    551
    Likes Received:
    872
    Status Points:
    770
    You are absolutely right. We all deserve dignity and respect regardless of disability or not. Do you honestly think the baggage handler was being intentionally insulting?

    Now mamma helicopter parent wants this person fired. Seriously? Why the overreaction? Does this person really not deserve a job? What does it accomplish to fire this person? Is the intent to terrify the organization into holding costly and unnecessary training for employees? To heck with that person's life. Let's just make an example and damn the consequences.

    My sole point is that there is a propensity in the United States to want retribution and punishment for people we perceive as offending our sensibilities and beliefs. This is a country with an insanely high prison population because we feel people must be punished for every misstep.

    Again, you are right. Those people deserve dignity and respect. My argument is about the reaction the mother has taken. In my opinion, she's an oversensitive fool whose ignorance is on par or greater than the person who wrote the note. She needs to get over it.
     
    paladin87, WilliamQ, MX and 4 others like this.
  10. Mapsmith
    Original Member

    Mapsmith Gold Member

    Messages:
    2,930
    Likes Received:
    7,696
    Status Points:
    6,570
    I would hope that the person who wrote the message explained to the delivery driver what was actually meant by the comment. To many of the drivers, it may make sense. Considering that deliveries may be made by people that do not understand how to communicate with Hearing Impaired, it seems like it was at least (although in poor taste) an attempt to help expedite the delivery. Otherwise, the delivery person might have spent 5 minutes knocking on the door and then left with the parcel because there was no answer. (and it may have been entirely possible that this scenario might have happened before the note was added)
     
    flyforawg likes this.
  11. LukeUSDreamer

    LukeUSDreamer Active Member

    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    6
    Status Points:
    80
    Unacceptable choice of words IMHO...dumb actually is an archaic term, but it's now considered offensive. However, I don't think the baggage handler was being intentionally insulting.
     
    Mapsmith, WilliamQ, Flyer1976 and 3 others like this.
  12. John Woram

    John Woram Silver Member

    Messages:
    126
    Likes Received:
    168
    Status Points:
    360
    Well, Merriam-Webster still shows "lacking the human power of speech" as definition #1 of "dumb" and "lacking intelligence" comes in at #6. "Hearing impaired" doesn't cut it, because it does not indicate if the person can/can't speak. Even Helen Keller has been described as "deaf, dumb and blind" and don't forget Elton John's lyrics -- neither example intended to be offensive, except by those who find offense where none exists. Also, can anyone come up with three other words that do the job just as well?
    Reminds me of the dreaded "N" word, which for years (centuries?) was a strictly neutral descriptor -- used by Gilbert & Sullivan, Mark Twain, and zillions of others. Later, someone decided it was from now on to be considered offensive -- again, where no offense was originally intended.
     
  13. Counsellor
    Original Member

    Counsellor Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,221
    Likes Received:
    1,620
    Status Points:
    1,120
    Absolute stupidity, but on the part of the mother:
    Reminds me of the Congressman (in the news a couple of years ago) who objected to the use of the word "niggardly" because he didn't know what it meant, and jumped to the conclusion it was a racial insult.
     
  14. mattsteg
    Original Member

    mattsteg Gold Member

    Messages:
    3,278
    Likes Received:
    5,543
    Status Points:
    4,170
    :rolleyes:
    There's a middle ground that thinks firing is excessive, but training and correction is called for.
    It seems like you're at that middle ground. No need to :rolleyes: at others suggesting firing someone for this, absent a pattern of behavior, would potentially be a bit of an overreaction for basically using archaic language that has morphed from accepted to almost unused (and gained negative connotation).
     
    Mapsmith likes this.
  15. WilliamQ

    WilliamQ Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,509
    Likes Received:
    14,295
    Status Points:
    10,675
    Poor choice of words but to request that the writer to be fired is way too harsh.
    Organisations should consider using codes.
    The definitions of those codes could be worded by a lawyer skilled in politically correct words that gets reviewed every 6 months.

    If I have to guess, since the message started off with "Please", I suspect this is an attempt by the worker to provide a good service but the irony is that the poor choice of words created a totally opposite effect.
    Also, does this look like 2 different writers to anyone else?

    upload_2014-3-28_7-24-12.png
     
    Mapsmith and LETTERBOY like this.
  16. konoyaro

    konoyaro Silver Member

    Messages:
    566
    Likes Received:
    1,241
    Status Points:
    845
    The handwriting looks the same to me, particularly when you compare the "e" and "a" characters. Simply looks like the same person used two different pens to me.

     
  17. flyforawg

    flyforawg Silver Member

    Messages:
    551
    Likes Received:
    872
    Status Points:
    770
    The two inks would indicate same person writing at two different times. Writing down the instructions and then realizing maybe I'd better add some clarification (in an attempt at good customer service). How do you even know this person is a native English speaker? Personally, I don't find the word dumb offensive in this context, but then I understand what the denotative meaning is and only someone overly sensitive in my opinion finds this kind of language offensive. Or does someone really think the anonymous baggage handler who doesn't even know who the bags belong to means the person was dumb=stupid instead of dumb=speechless?

    Perhaps the baggage handler is above average intelligence with a large vocabulary who lacks a politically correct sense of language. Also, do we actually think this piece of dot matrix printer paper was meant to go to the customer? It's clearly instructions for the person doing the delivery. So, do we fire the deliver person, too for not being sensitive enough to remove the note?
     
  18. paladin87
    Original Member

    paladin87 Silver Member

    Messages:
    532
    Likes Received:
    778
    Status Points:
    770
    People need to just get over themselves. I hardly see any malice here and honestly, people get insulted all the time in various ways and with various names. Why is it SO much more valid and hurtful to be called one name over another? Just because it is based on disability, or race, or creed, or sex, or just a general insult period...its not news. Personally, if some baggage handler wrote "you are a ****ing piece of ****ing **** you ****ing ****" on my bag...I would be pretty angry. Is it news? Hardly. Just move on with your life for goodness sake, and enough of the incessant demands for blood, as was mentioned by someone else. People think a gross overreaction is going to satiate their inherent craving for someone else's blood. If you are displeased, make your complaint, stop patronizing said business if you like, and move on. Enough clamoring for the spotlight like you were martyred on the cross. :rolleyes:. All this is made worse here by the fact that it appears, as stated, to be most likely not even made with malicious intent.
     
  19. canucklehead
    Original Member

    canucklehead Gold Member

    Messages:
    5,895
    Likes Received:
    22,059
    Status Points:
    11,070
    Let me very clear upon reading what happened and some of the postings - deaf is not dumb and there is no reason for the note as written. I see a lot of over-justification of why someone would use the word, but frankly in modern society, it means one thing - unintelligent. I am sure the person who wrote it did not ponder "gee, let me find a synonym for "lacking the human power of speech" in the dictionary. If so, they could have just said "cannot speak". Huge difference in tone between dumb and speechless!

    The use of the word dumb, whether ignorant of its connotation and non-association with being deaf, is unacceptable for someone who has to deal with customers. The family is rightfully incensed in my view. I am so over people who justify using derogatory terms and then cite that it was used to characterize Helen Keller and was used in a song by Elton John. :rolleyes: There are many offensive terms used to describe people in the past that are no longer acceptable. In the rush to say the mother went too far in seeking the employee for being fired, this was due to the insensitivity of the person who wrote the note. S/he may be hardworking but clearly not professional in what they wrote. Adding those two words does make the notation different, even if the word 'Please' is used, it does nothing to remove the insult.

    While this may not be something the contractor terminates an employee for, the employer should recognize the gravity words have and ensure these types of notes are not used again. American Airlines has already initiated an investigation and as an airline committed to ensuring non-discrimination, I trust they will deliberate in an appropriate manner.
     
  20. WilliamQ

    WilliamQ Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,509
    Likes Received:
    14,295
    Status Points:
    10,675
    Not exactly related, but this struck me as taking offence when none was intended like in the previous incident due to inappropriately generated PNR code from Delta.

    http://milepoint.com/forums/threads...-confirmation-code-h8gays.77458/#post-2242801

    That aside, one "good" thing that came out of this incident is that this phrase is now to my list of banned English words, as I am sure many have done so too, especially AA employees, contracted or otherwise.
     
    Flyer1976 and LETTERBOY like this.
  21. John Woram

    John Woram Silver Member

    Messages:
    126
    Likes Received:
    168
    Status Points:
    360
    Absolutely right, for the first part: Deaf is "can't hear" and Dumb is "can't speak." And "Deaf and Dumb" has one meaning, and only one meaning. If anyone can come up with a better choice of three words that so clearly describe the condition, let us know what they are. And as the Brits put it, "Honi soit qui mal y pense" to anyone who deliberately puts an alternative meaning on the last word, when read in this context.

    As for the note itself, maybe one person wrote the first two words, and another added a three-word clarification. Or maybe vice versa.Or maybe the same person wrote both parts. But regardless of who wrote what, the meaning is clear.
     
  22. Counsellor
    Original Member

    Counsellor Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,221
    Likes Received:
    1,620
    Status Points:
    1,120
    Sorry, I don't see an insult. What appears to have happened is that a literate baggage handler (or supervisor, or whoever) wrote a note providing necessary information to a deliveryman in what should have been plain and clear English. Someone who was not intended to see the note, and wasn't even the subject referred to in the note, saw it and was apparently not literate enough to decipher the message. Said someone took offense where none was intended or stated.

    If anything, the use of the word "Please" indicates politeness, thus contradicting the notion that the writer intended an insult.

    If someone either is so hypersensitive, or is ignorant of what words mean (see, e.g., the "niggardly" example above) that they take offense where none is intended, the fault lies with that person, not with of the person whose words they misinterpreted.

    At least, that's how I see it.
     
    WilliamQ, LETTERBOY and flyforawg like this.
  23. Kalboz
    Original Member

    Kalboz Gold Member

    Messages:
    9,017
    Likes Received:
    22,456
    Status Points:
    15,020
  24. canucklehead
    Original Member

    canucklehead Gold Member

    Messages:
    5,895
    Likes Received:
    22,059
    Status Points:
    11,070
    Ah, so if someone does not see your definition of dumb they are not literate! :rolleyes:

    Dumb has several definitions, so if you wish to use the word 'literate', you have to assume there is no ambiguity in the word and this would be incorrect. As you know, the English language is not static and while dumb historically may refer to speechless, it also is defined as lack of intelligence. The latter is in fact the more prevailing term in modern times and considered perjorative in the deaf community. Given that dumb is frowned upon as a term to describe individuals who are deaf and the ambiguous nature of the word's meaning, the proper path would have been to use a word or phrase with unequivocal meaning. Further, if you consult the OED, they provide more insight into the word dumb and its context. Remember, there are many terms in English that were commonplace before but have evolved into derogatory terms, dumb is only one of them.

    As for your use of niggardly, this is a false analogy given that this word is not connected to the racial epithet. Dumb, however, DOES have multiple definitions and can be interpreted with different meaning, so in this case, the fault with using dumb lies in its multiple meanings, not in someone not knowing what the word means (as opposed to niggardly which would be clearly misinterpreted to being an offensive term for an African American).

    As I noted above, I was confident that American Airlines would deliberate appropriately given their historical non-discrimination policy and Kalboz has been good enough to link to that.
     
  25. milchap
    Original Member

    milchap Gold Member

    Messages:
    27,701
    Likes Received:
    148,181
    Status Points:
    20,020
    "Deaf and dumb" (or even just "dumb", when applied to deaf people who do not speak) is an archaic term that is considered offensive.
    Many Deaf people do not use a spoken language, thus they are technically "mute". The word "dumb" has at least an archaic meaning that means "mute". Of course, the word "dumb" also has another more common meaning now that implies stupidity, which is certainly not applicable to most Deaf people.
    Given the long history of deafness, and the fact that Deaf people have been incorrectly assumed to be mentally deficient just because they do not speak, you can imagine that most Deaf people do not appreciate being called "Deaf and Dumb".
    Today, anyone using the word "dumb" in such context is .... well ... dumb.
    Source: nhearingloss.com

    An archaic expression......no malice meant and probably written by someone older as the younger generation would not be familiar with this expession
     
    canucklehead likes this.

Share This Page