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Woman Unable To See Dying Mother Because Ticket Agent Needs to Go On Break

samzenpus posted about 5 years ago | from the working-as-intended dept.

Idle 16

A man who rushed his girlfriend to the airport to catch a flight to see her dying mother, watched her miss the flight because a United Airline's ticketing agent refused to help because "it was time for her to go on her break." His girlfriend finally reached the gate in time to watch her flight depart, and the gate agent defended his colleague's lack of sympathy, saying "management really makes us work some unreasonable schedules." To be fair, breaks are serious business.

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16 comments

How much can you believe (3, Insightful)

jeffgenest (913339) | about 5 years ago | (#27563725)

After working in the service sector for many years it is easy to see how a worker can get a pretty jaundiced view of the stories people give them.

Letter from observer to Mike (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27563901)

If you or anyone you know have supported any mainstream politicians over the last 20-30 years, or patronised any major global corporation with your business in a similar time frame, then you have no one to blame for this incident but yourself and the aforementioned "anyone".

 

"My mother is dying" is the kind of lie a self-important management/bean-counter type would say to get their way, so it is no surprise that the overworked employee on the desk didn't believe you. People who deal with customers are usually the lowest paid (maybe after cleaners and the like) in that corporation too, but have the most interaction with customers who unsurprisingly are trying to get the most out of the corporation. The minions at the desk have zero decision making ability, usually answer to some chimp of a supervisor who also has no decision making ability, and who will no doubt get an ear-full at best if they do actually give in to a customer's request. And you wonder why they don't care? I would wager that your attitude was probably pretty awful too. Either you know it, or you are a social leper who can't actually ask someone for something nicely.

 

I have worked too many jobs to know exactly what management are like when it comes to breaks and leaving the place of work on time. I have been dragged through disciplinary action for being late for work (like 5-20 mins or so, but a few times in the space of a week or two), but it did not matter that most days I arrived 30+ mins early, due the non-predictability of traffic. I have had rows with management about being able to leave the office on time too - as far as they were concerned you had to be at work on time ("zero tolerance on tardiness!"), but if you got stuck doing a job at the end of the day then you had to stay until it was done. This obviously led to most employees dodging any work after about 3pm or so, in case you got stuck with a big problem that would keep you late. Employers expecting an amount of overtime doesn't help matters, especially when they will not pay an overtime rate, and maybe they will offer "time in lieu" if you are lucky. TIL is a joke anyway, as you rarely get that time back.

 

There were very similar debates when it came to breaks too - one place I worked the breaks were rota'd so that no one had a break at the same time as anyone else (essentially negating most of the reason people want a break - to socialise a bit), and if you missed the start of the break then you still had to be back at your desk for the end of it. "Employee cover" was the BS management used to justify this, but in reality it was to eke the most out of the workforce because their pay rises and promotions were clearly dependent on cutting employee costs as much as possible.

 

Mike, your experience is the collateral damage of the quest for the mighty dollar and endemic CYA. The "fuck you" attitude at the bottom of United Airlines will, without doubt, have come from the top. I can imagine exactly the response you will get - a false apology, with maybe a free flight? You'll have to deal with United again though.

United Airlines (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27565637)

It seems that the workers of United Airlines have really let themselves go of late. I was a victim of their lack of sympathy... pretty anecdotal but last week they got me to my destination 24 hours too late and with about $200 in extra expenses.

Re: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27566569)

Some times you wonder why people don't think "What if I was in their position, would I want the ticket guy to go on break?", its called empathy, and its dead.

Just doing my job (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27567461)

People have done a lot worse whilst "just doing their job".

The workers at Auschwitz for example.

United Airlines at Their Best (1)

Not_A_Jew (1363015) | about 5 years ago | (#27570257)

Another satisfied customer.

Re:United Airlines at Their Best (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27572023)

Yes, it is a really sad story, but if I had to deal with hundreds of irritated customers who want everything done their way, I would probably not give up a 30 minute break to deal with them, no matter her story. Everyone goes into an airport and wants priority over everyone else in order to make a flight. Who goes and expects to miss theirs?

Who knows, this employee may have been in a really bad mood from previous customers. Should we blame everyone who flies and acts like assholes to airport clerks too? I bet this employee would have been a lot nicer if the people being dealt with weren't assholes. Just saying, every side has its story.

Re:United Airlines at Their Best (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27596451)

I hate to break this to you, but these people work in customer SERVICE. If you can't handle dealing courteously with customers then you should not be working in customer service positions. Period.

Yes, many customers are royal jerks who deserve to be smacked instead of courteous treatment, but that does not change the nature of a customer service employee's job description. It's not really fair, but that IS the way of things.

Enough of the entitlement attitudes already. Face it. Customer service jobs suck. This is the field they chose to work in and I don't think they should be acting so insensitively. Just because some people lie about emergencies to get faster service means that they are all lying about it. I know about these types of positions, I've worked them a long time ago. The biggest lesson I learned was what I DIDN'T want to to for the rest of my life.

why wait till she was dying (0, Troll)

tjstork (137384) | about 5 years ago | (#27571995)

If the lady's mother was so damned important to her, why did she wait until her mother was so nearly dead to go visit her?

Fact is,. It's not the ticket agent's fault that the lady could not manage her own damned life. Take a break.

Re:why wait till she was dying (1)

Tebriel (192168) | about 5 years ago | (#27572293)

There's a difference between "Mom is sick. Get up here when you can make it" and "Mom is dying you need to get up here NOW." It can quickly change from one moment to the next.

Also, I certainly hope you never face this "lack of planning" in your own life.

Re:why wait till she was dying (1)

tjstork (137384) | about 5 years ago | (#27572757)

There's a difference between "Mom is sick. Get up here when you can make it" and "Mom is dying you need to get up here NOW." It can quickly change from one moment to the next.

Well then, that's why you need to make an effort to go up and see her. If you could make the last minute effort to go and see her before she kicks off, why could you not go before she could here you say goodbye.

Also, I certainly hope you never face this "lack of planning" in your own life.

Which really means to say, that you hope that I do. Fortunately, I tell my loved ones that I love them pretty much every day. I keep a relationship open with my family and I've chosen to live near them so that I can see them.

Again, don't take it out on an airline attendant because you didn't make those choices. All she did was go on a break, that she's schedule to take anyway, whereas the lady's need to turn her mother's death into a drama is because the lady made a set of decisions over the course of her life that put her in that position.

Re:why wait till she was dying (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | about 5 years ago | (#27573263)

Are there classes at the Learning Annex that I can take where I can learn to become cold and insensitive, while at the same time becoming an expert in everybody else's life so that I can tell them how to manage their affairs?

Re:why wait till she was dying (1)

tjstork (137384) | about 5 years ago | (#27588655)

Are there classes at the Learning Annex that I can take where I can learn to become cold and insensitive, while at the same time becoming an expert in everybody else's life so that I can tell them how to manage their affairs?

Sounds like you already did, because you are demanding that people be allowed to make slaves of airline ticket agents. How many people do you think have some really good reason for the lady to not have a break, or did you even think about that?

Re:why wait till she was dying (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27596699)

Yes, I have. Refer to my post about customer service positions (about 5 posts above this one). This is not a matter of poor planning, drama queen action or personal slavery. The ticket agent behaved inappropriately. End of story.

Re:why wait till she was dying (2, Insightful)

Just Some Guy (3352) | about 5 years ago | (#27573729)

Fortunately, I tell my loved ones that I love them pretty much every day. I keep a relationship open with my family and I've chosen to live near them so that I can see them.

I talk to my mom quite a bit, too. If I got a call that I was needed home now, I'd still do everything I humanly could to get there ASAP. My dad died about a week after I'd seen him and spent a long lazy day talking and laughing and hanging out, but I was still on the highway within 5 minutes of getting The Call.

Re:why wait till she was dying (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27572927)

If the lady's mother was so damned important to her, why did she wait until her mother was so nearly dead to go visit her?

That is what I did: I planned to see my mother on Thursday. But funny thing was my mother had other plans; you insensitive clod. I had the ticket and everything. She died 5 days earlier.

It is funny how loved ones don't follow YOUR schedule when it comes to death.

tjstork, maybe your family is different: "Son, I'm dieing at 12:56 pm on Saturday; be there or be square".

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