Did you see the story of United Airlines and the dead dog? A stewardess on an internal American flight insisted that a dog that was on the flight, in the cabin, was placed in the overhead locker for the duration of the flight – four hours. The dog was allowed in the cabin but was apparently getting in the way of other passengers, so an idiot with a uniform made a stupid suggestion, and the dog owners somehow acceded.
The dog suffocated to death.
I am sorry for the dog. That’s an awful death. And an entirely unnecessary one. But not just unnecessary; it was also completely avoidable. All the owners, or anyone within earshot who wasn’t utterly self-absorbed, had to do was politely question the staggeringly stupid request from the staggeringly stupid UA member of staff. It’s not rocket surgery, is it? Put a living creature in a tight, enclosed space – presumably with bags in it – and there is a strong chance it will end badly.
Can you imagine what would have happened if a similar suggestion was made about a crying baby? I am sorry for the owners – really – but I cannot for the life of me understand why they so meekly gave in to what was clearly a ridiculous order.
There is a peculiar dynamic with flights and those in authority. People are so scared of upsetting anyone official that they become oddly submissive and compliant. This is one of those strange side-effects of 9/11 and other flight-oriented terrorist activity. Since that awful day, airline and airport staff have become endowed with unworldly powers that wouldn’t work anywhere else. I don’t fly a lot, but I have encountered some absolute fuckwittery, especially when going through the security checks. The staff can be so rude and unreasonable, and people seem afraid to stand up for themselves in case they are prevented from travelling.
It is an abuse of power, and the suffocated dog is a case in point. Something downright bizarre happens to people when confronted with a uniform. A couple of years ago, I volunteered to help with parking at a festival. I had never done it before, and really didn’t have a clue what I was doing. But I was wearing a fluorescent jacket, and my authority was absolute. Everyone did whatever I asked of them, without question. And trust me, this was a tough crowd!
It got me thinking about the power of authority. I am not a rebellious person, and I try to be polite and respectful, but I am someone who will stand my ground. Not always – you must pick your fights – and I am all for the quiet life. But sometimes, a little switch clicks in my head, and I will dig in, regardless of the consequences.
I get turned on
I have had a chequered financial history. These days, I have learned my lessons, and our family finances are a well-oiled machine. It wasn’t always thus! I know what it is like when the money runs out and the bank comes-a-knocking. And let me tell you, they take the piss. A bank is just a private company. They are not the government. They are not the tax man. They are as subject to laws and regulations as any private company. And they use tactics that are way outside of these laws and regulations. They abuse their power. And I know this, absolutely, because I used to work for one.
Let me tell you: I have fought the banks. And I won. One of the few positive things that has come out of the credit crunch (watch The Big Short, by the way) is that people finally saw banks for what they are: amoral, money making machines that throw people under the wheels of the bus at the drop of a hat (with apologies for the mixing of metaphors). They do not care about people. They care about cold, hard, profit. Full stop.
But even banks have to play by the rules. I am not about to wash my dirty linen in public, but trust me when I tell you to find out what they are, and play hardball if you ever find yourself in a difficult situation with them. There is plenty of information out there. When I worked in a bank, I saw some staff get power crazy. I saw them being petty and horrible, ruining people’s lives and taking pleasure in it. I saw them lie. I saw them scheme. I saw them take advantage of what stress does to a person. And I saw them revel in it.
My advice is stay on their right side. For all my defiant words, getting into financial difficulty is horrendously stressful, but sometimes, circumstances conspire against you and mistakes and misjudgements are made. And if you are unfortunate enough to find yourself in this situation, you have two choices. You can bend over and grit your teeth, or you can stand firm and hold your ground. Take the second one.
We are often scared of authority. It is like we have been conditioned to be so. You have to pick your battles. I don’t tend to give the police a hard time when our paths cross, but to be honest, they hardly ever do, so it’s easy for me to say that. If you do decide to stand up for yourself, it is important you do so in a calm and civil manner, and that can be tough, but if you get angry and make it personal, you lose a lot of your power.
And trust me, you probably have more than you think you do.
NB reposted from earlier. Steemit had a four hour brain fart just after I orginally posted. Hope you don't mind!