I've been following Kevin Smith's career since just after Mallrats (when Chasing Amy was a thing to look forward to). I, like probably most of you, are fans of (or at least familiar) with his work. Smith has always been the champion of the geek community (back when geeks really were social outcasts), and of people not born with the fortunate genes for physical prowess. He's the exemplar writer who has truly lived up to the lofty ideals of what a meritocracy should be: it's not supposed to matter how big, fast, strong, rich, or handsome you are, because if you're clever and civil enough, you can rise up and thrive.
I've also hated airlines. Oddly enough, I've never flown before (I've driven over 20 hours to get to Halifax, and I'd be happy to do it again), so I can't relate any airliner horror stories that I'm sure many of you have. I just hate airliners, or rather one single airliner, and for entirely unrelated matters. As such, I have decreed that all airliners behave the same way: cheap, evil, and inconsiderate. Despite the billions of dollars of taxpayer bailout money, the airline companies find new ways to charge every extra hair on your body, and have near carte-blanche control when it comes to their own corporate law-enforcement.
Southwest Airlines tried to pull that crap on Kevin "Too-Fat-for-the-Sky" Smith. Some people have been on the receiving end of Smith's wordsmithing in the past, and the results have always been captivating for those hearing the story. Smith never tells a story out of malice, it's just that storytelling comes as naturally to him as sitting on my couch comes to me. Southwest made the mistake of not only giving Smith a story to tell, but they also made him mad .
As you've all heard, by now, Southwest Airlines may be well on their way for the worst PR disaster in airliner history. PZ Myers, the most read science blog on the planet, mentioned it...and you all know how PZ can amass an uprising if he wants. But that pales in comparison to the BBfuckingC making it a story.
I remember being on Twitter (p.s. follow me!) the evening that he was putting up with the abuse and humiliation from Southwest and thinking, "Oh man, the SModcast is going to be GREAT!" And it was better than I expected: Smith became absolutely unhinged as he heaped an hour and twenty-five minutes of scorn and derision on a company that deserves it. I can't put it into better words than Smith himself, so you should really take the time to listen yourself.
In frantic damage control, the Southwest Airlines Twitter account has been actively trying to make nice. Also, the Southwest Airlines blog is also offering up many apologies (and a few lies, such as the supposed attempts to call him on the phone, which Smith has denied). I found the "Customer of Size" policy to be particularly....interesting. If they're going to make overweight people feel embarrassed and have to buy an extra ticket, then short people like me should be able to get a discount and sit in the human-equivalent of a compact spot (are you listening, airlines?).
The one question that I still have left over is this:
Why the hell does Southwest airlines even HAVE a blog? I know this is web 2.0 and everyone has a blog these days...but....FFS!
And a followup: What kind of sad-sap actually READS the blog of an airline company? And who follows them on Twitter?
Whatever. I could care less. Congratulations, Southwest Airlines. You lost every customer service prize imaginable. Smith has already immortalized this on his hugely popular podcast, and will likely tell this to every Q&A, campus, and radio speaking engagement that he has for years to come. I hope you, and every company that treats human beings like ATM machines, at least learned something from this.
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