January 18, 2007

Wow. Just. . . wow.

Just when you thought Nick Coleman couldn't get any worse, he tops himself. More astounding is the fact the Strib publishes this tripe.

If you lose a pillow fight on Sun Country Airlines, do not ask the pilot to help. The pilot is responsible for life-or-death decisions in the cockpit, but only the flight attendants have power over pillows.

You can just see this is going to be one of those award-winning literary gems Coleman's so famous for.

This urgent dispatch comes from Reid and Cindy Johnson of Elko. Cindy, 49, has suffered from excruciating back pain for years, despite three surgeries, therapy and more. Desperate, last week the Johnsons visited a New York clinic that promises help. Cindy underwent painful treatments involving large needles before she and Reid headed home on Sun Country.

So, I'm thinking here: this woman has suffered excruciating back pain. For years. And now she JUST underwent New York treatment involving large needles. Okay. So, you'd think--and this is just me and my silly little mind working here--maybe, just MAYBE, poor little Cindy Johnson would also purchase some items to make flying a little less, oh, say, uncomfortable. You know, like a pillow?

Feathers started flying immediately upon boarding.

As the Johnsons made their way to their seats in Coach, Cindy grabbed a pillow from an open overhead compartment. It wasn't much of a pillow -- one of those magazine-sized things that have no heft -- but Cindy hoped to stuff it behind her on the three-hour flight home.

Oh, well, Cindy HOPED to stuff a nothing pillow behind her excrucia-fied back. After all that New York needle treatment, a magazine-sized thing with no heft was her answer to three-hour flight relief. Keeping in mind that most airports sell every manner of pillow, from those neck engulfing toilet seats, to massaging marshmallows. But, no, poor Cindy opted to put her faith in an airplane pillow.

Not so fast.

A flight attendant with a smile on her face grabbed the pillow from Cindy and put it back in the overhead compartment. Pillows, she said, were for First Class Passengers.

Nick would prefer a flight attendant with a scowl and brass knuckles for cock-punching, apparently. But, notice the sleight of hand going on here. Let's go back a bit:

As the Johnsons made their way to their seats in Coach, Cindy grabbed a pillow from an open overhead compartment.

Okay, Nick, here's one for you: from WHERE in the airplane did she grab that pillow? Oh, let me guess, Nick: did she happen to grab it as she walked through FIRST CLASS? Because, if she did (and I'm guessing she DID), then that's an important bit of information, dontcha' think?

Cindy explained about her back, but Smiley Face was unmoved. "Rules are rules," she said. Cindy repeated her plea.

She was on her knees, she was. Her back pain sending firey spikes down her embattled back, making her bow in a most undignified manner. Please, oh please, may I have this pillow!?

Smiley Face nodded toward the open cockpit, where the pilots were making preflight checks, and said Cindy could take her pillow case to the pilots, if she wanted to.

Smiley Face? Gosh, it's almost as if Nick was there, even though he wasn't. It's almost as if he's taking Cindy for her exact word, unquestioning. Why would Nick do that? Oh, we'll get to that. I'll just state, from my own experience, that a flight attendant instructing me to take a pillow case up with the pilots is, well, let's just say. . . BULLSHIT!

Sun Country claims that the Johnsons barged in on the pilots. The Johnsons are adamant that they were instructed to ask the pilot for a pillow, and say the whole experience was an exercise in the absurd -- so absurd that an incident report filed by the crew alleges that Cindy didn't have a limp until after she was refused a pillow.

Wow, Nick is really taking Cindy's side here. He sure is dismissive of anything coming from Sun Country, that's for sure. It's funny that Nick would be so pro-Cindy and anti-Sun Country. I wonder what kind of journalistic integrity law Coleman is breaking this time. . .

"Pillows are for the First Class people," said Bud Fisher, a Sun Country spokesman. "Only First Class passengers get pillows because of the expense that would result from offering pillows to all passengers."We have one of the best in-flight crews of any airline," he added. "They are known for being as hospitable as possible."

All of which backs up my belief--nay, CERTAINTY--that Cindy tried to pilfer her precious pillow on her way through First Class. Which, again, isn't that an important tidbit of information? I mean, consider this from the First Class passenger perspective: some bitch comes through and snatches a pillow from YOUR overhead compartment, in First Class. Hey, maybe while she was at it, Cindy could have ambled up to first class during the in-flight meal and try to eat off a First Class meal tray. Oh, but I'm sure her back wouldn't allow that.

True, I hope.

But I have known the Johnsons for 20-some years, going back to my days as TV critic at this newspaper, when Reid was the WCCO-TV news director. We didn't agree on everything, but I know him to be a devout Lutheran, and I believe that the Johnsons do not lie or limp on command. I have never heard Reid cuss, but I heard him splutter when I told him how the airline responded to the pillow story.

Holy. Christ. Nick Coleman is actually using his position as the nation's worst newspaper columnist to bitch and moan on behalf of a friend he's known for 20-some years. This is, well, amazing. So now we know why Sun Country's Smiley Face is the embodiment of all smarmy evil, and why Cindy is the shining light of truth. Why? Because Nick Coleman, oh Knower of Stuff, "believes that the Johnsons do not lie or limp on command." Oh, well then. . .

"I was with Cindy the whole time. She did not open the overhead. She grabbed one pillow, not more. She was instructed to talk to the pilot. There was no shouting. If anyone said we were causing a delay and to sit down, we would have. I cannot believe they are taking this tack. Sun Country? This is Dark Side of the Moon Country. I can't think of a word for this that is printable. All we wanted was a pillow."

She did not open the overhead. No, she simply snatched a pillow on her way through First Class. And what's with the "grabbed one pillow, no more," line. Are we missing something here? Also, notice the discrepancy between "I have never heard Reid cuss," and "I can't think of a word for this that is printable." Funny, that.

This shouldn't have become an example of loutish customer service.

No, just a loutish customer.

This one might have come out right.

When the Johnsons talked to the pilot, he took pity on Cindy and said sure, she could have a pillow.

That's when Smiley Face, the flight attendant, reasserted her authority.

Or, perhaps more appropriately, that's when Smiley Face pointed out that, if Cindy got her pillow (pillows?), a paying First Class passenger would be denied their's. But never mind that. Nick's going to the mat for a friend here, so there's no room for such considerations.

The captain was wearing the wings, but Smiley Face was wearing the pants.

Again, more appropriately, the captain hadn't thought of that. . .

Smiley Face had jurisdiction over pillows, but the pilot said he would call someone in management to see if a pillow could be procured.

Of course, if the other passengers not in First Class happened to see Queen Cindy with her pillow, they might, JUST MIGHT, ask for a pillow of their own, thus touching off pillow pandemonium.

"I didn't know there were corporate pillow people," says Reid. There are, and when they weighed in, the Pillow Protocols stayed firm.

Perhaps because of the exact probability stated above. Now, dear readers, we travel even deeper into the world of Nick just taking the word of a friend. Proceed only if you dare. Beyond here there be monsters.

Reid was in an aisle seat and could see up front, into First Class.

Smiley Face was handing out pillows to First Class people. One didn't want a pillow. So Smiley Face gave two to another First Class Person.

You know what? I'll even extend the benefit of the doubt here and pretend this transpired as related. If I were Smiley Face, I would have done the same damned thing. I would have even acted it out very theatrically, with big sweeping arm motions as I handed the second pillow to the "First Class Person." If I didn't think it would cost me my job, I would even walk back and do a little pillow dance in front of Queen Cindy.

In conclusion, I offer a travel tip to help us out in perilous times: If you are not seated in First Class, go suck an egg.

Or, better yet, if you're not in First Class, don't go grabbing pillows on your way through First Class, you grabby little grabberton.

And this concludes this installment of Nick Coleman writing a column on behalf of a friend.

This fisking brought to you via Bryan's wishes and the Rambling Rhodes "Make a Wish" foundation.

UPDATE: You know, it occurs to me, if people like Queen Cindy and her hubby are the kinds of people Coleman curses as his friends, it kind of goes a long way to explaining the crappishness of Coleman's "writing" itself. Cocktail parties with the Koleman Krowd must be a laugh riot of silence and self-loathing.

Posted by Ryan at January 18, 2007 07:04 AM | TrackBack

You made my pathetically sad morning. The first thing that popped into my head when I read this poor excuse of a (even for Coleman) column was, "I can't wait to hear what Rhodes has to say..."

The second thing that popped into my head was, "Who can afford to go to New York for an expensive back treatment, but can't afford to fly first class? And, more importantly, why would that person be flying Sun Country?"

Thanks for the fisking.

Posted by: Bryan at January 18, 2007 11:23 AM

I love your Coleman columns.

I also love Sun Country. They serve the world's best grilled-cheese sandwiches. They're huge and full of cheese and practically worth the price of the flight.

Come to think of it, Mrs. Grabberton could have stuffed one of those sandwiches behind her back. It would even have doubled as a heating pad ... at least until the cheese dripped down into her underpants.

But then we would have had to listen to Coleman complain about Sun Country's failure to sponge-bathe his crippled friend.

Posted by: Snow Queen at January 18, 2007 01:42 PM

Lovely post. I like your pencraft and that’s great that you’ve opened this subject. Only fool can disagree with this!

Posted by: Shawn B at April 9, 2008 05:01 AM
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