I had to go to Dallas for training for two weeks when I started working at the ticket counter.
The system we used was from the fucking stone age and it was hundreds of codes that were very finicky and they made me cry nearly every day. So I requested to go to training since the person training me was absolutely useless. My manager agreed, so off I drove to Dallas for two weeks of intense classroom training.
I was one of the younger people in my class and every other class I had taken, I had made some great friends. Usually my classes involved me going to the bar every night or drinking in hotel rooms with six other people who I still keep in contact with, and have several pictures with.
But this two week class was the bane of my existence. I didn’t make any friends in this class and I almost got fired by the end of the class because one girl took everything personally.
This girl was from Arkansas and she was… Oh, how do I put it? She was a girl who seemed like she needed daddy to survive. She was sick nearly every day, and while I was battling a horrible lung infection for the majority of this training, I understood. She seemed nice at first, she even sat with me and invited me to the bar a couple of times. But I had declined because I was certain I was dying and I ended up having to go to Urgent Care. I had lost complete use of my right lung because of how swollen it was in my chest. Not pneumonia though, surprisingly. But it was the sickest I had ever been, and I did not miss one minute of class.
My first lunch at the training center I was sitting with a flight attendant who was super funny. She was great. And the Arkansas girl sat next to me. She had been talking to me that morning, letting me know that she was a Razorback, she was working on her third college degree in an advanced science. If she was telling the truth, I will say that she was incredibly intelligent. And when she spoke to me, she talked to me like she was highly intelligent, which I really respected. However, after five minutes of talking to her, all I could think is how immature she was. Some people are just really immature, and that’s fine, but it actually got on my nerves.
When she sat with me and the FA at lunch, I introduced her as a new hire who was “stupid smart.”
I said “stupid smart” because she was so highly intelligent. I meant no disrespect. I thought it was a compliment. Apparently it was not.
Now, this girl had a very poised look whenever she heard something she didn’t like. She would look straight ahead, bite the bottom left corner of her mouth, and take a deep breath.
The reason I remember this so specifically is because I saw it a few times and this damn look nearly got me fired.
I tried to be friendly with this girl, I really did. She and I had a lot of shared interests, but something about this girl just screamed,”I’m just so lucky because daddy takes care of me.” I don’t know if it’s true or not, but a lot of youth I had met in the south had daddy giving them money to chase their dreams before settling down and doing the good southern thing of getting married and having a thousand fucking babies. For all I knew she was just a full time student. It was over a year ago and the details about her are kind of fuzzy.
The straw that broke the camels back was three days before the end of class. I was not awake yet. My lung infection was starting to subside, but I still had a fever and I was taking a handful of prescribed pills in order breathe. I was missing Alex, I was feeling considerably lonely since I didn’t really bond with anyone in the class at all. I just wanted to go home. So badly.
This, mixed with my intolerance for complete and utter bullshit at 7 AM caused word vomit to spew from my mouth.
This girl liked to be the center of attention. Which is fine… most of the time. She invited me to sit with her and half the class for breakfast, and I didn’t even have coffee in me yet. She began to talk about how she had watched her friend’s wedding she was in on TV the night before.
She said that it was the most beautiful wedding and she saw herself as one of the bridesmaids and that it was just a match made in heaven and perfect in every way.
I looked at her and said, “Oh, what TV family?”
She gave me the look and said, “I don’t know if I should tell you.”
I shrugged. “I was just curious, who you’re friends with is none of my business.”
“It was one of the Duggar weddings.”
I was pretty disinterested and went back to my coffee. But then she went on and on about how the Duggar’s are never acting.
“How they act on TV is how they act in real life. There’s no difference. They’re just great people all around.”
This was one week before the sex scandal, folks.
Now, my half asleep, drug induced conscious of sickness, homesickness, and overall exhaustion from not having a comfortable bed for two weeks hit me. I blurted out, “Oh, so they’re bigots in real life too?”
I regretted the words as soon as they left my mouth.
The entire table went silent. Two people dropped their silverware. Everyone’s jaw dropped.
In my home state, with my own friends anywhere, this would have gotten a laugh. This would have gotten an applause for timing. But I wasn’t in my home state. I wasn’t with my friends. I was in a strange place with strange people who had deep roots in the deep south. For one of the first times in my life, I felt like a true outcast who had truly and really fucked up and I realized it as soon as the words left my lips.
As rehearsed, Arkansas looked straight ahead, biting the bottom corner of her mouth before giving a calculated response.
“They’re not bigots. It’s their christian belief and they can express it any way they want,” she said to me in a cold, calm manner. And I don’t blame her. In fact, I commend her for how calmly and politely she responded. She had far more tact and grace than I had or ever will have.
I did apologize as soon as I said it. “That came out far harsher than I had intended,” I said. “I’m sorry. I just don’t agree with most of their actions.”
She didn’t say anything more to me. She didn’t have to. I excused myself, grabbed my coffee, and went to the class.
I was later pulled out of the class and had a briefing on how hurtful my comments were and how I was being incredibly disrespectful. While I technically didn’t say anything that could fire me, and thank god I didn’t make a comment on the “Christianity” side of the Duggar’s reactions, I was let off with a warning. If I would have criticized the Christian-like tendencies of the Duggar’s and argued religion, I would have been unemployed and sent back to Louisiana.
But I wasn’t. This girl and I avoided each other like the plague the rest of the class.
The last day of class though, I went up to her and shook her hand. I told her that I felt she would do well in our industry, and I drove home. I never saw or heard from her again. I have no idea if she still works there.
A week later the sex scandal happened and I didn’t feel nearly as bad.
I said a number of things those two weeks that were unwarranted. Mostly she talked about how the few times she had worked the counter, she had really nice passengers. And in that part of Arkansas, I had really good luck with people too. I drove through the town she worked in several times whenever I drove to Minnesota. I had stayed in that town several times over the past three years. Of any place in the deep south, that particular area was a very nice, very welcoming area that really embraced the “Southern Hospitality” mentality that I never really got in Louisiana.
Where I worked, however, I had people threatening to kill me every day. I had drinks thrown in my face. And when I had someone telling me how easy the job was and how everyone was sweet and nice all the time, I did laugh. A lot.
Because she hadn’t experienced the hell that bad weather brings.
So, Arkansas girl, if you ever do read this, I mean it when I say “I respect your opinion and I’m sorry for disrespecting you.”
To the Arkansas Girl, I’m fairly certain you’ll never read this, but if you do, I will say I commend you on how tactful you responded and I do have great respect for you, even though I completely and whole heartily disagree with you. I wish you the best of luck.
Have you ever had an experience where your mouth got you into trouble? Have you ever had an instance where you were called a bigot for calling out crazy behavior? Ever deal with difficult people? Let me know in the comments