Don't they know it's... BLANK day?

Way back in my regional airline days I found myself in and out of assorted airports in assorted cities for most of my employ at Northwest Airlink. I haunted cities in such as Hibbing, Duluth, Appleton and Cedar Rapids.

One day while sitting in operations at one of those Iowa stations and waiting for paperwork I was looking at the employee's "whiteboard" where the assorted customer service and ramp agents left messages. Scrolled there was a message asking for the help of anyone willing to trade next Saturday with "Tori." Tori was a tiny little Thai lady who was one of the few agents at that station who still retained most of her sense of humor, and thus was a pal of mine.

Just as I finished pondering the whiteboard, Tori walked in and plopped down in a chair. I pointed at the whiteboard and asked what that was all about. She explained that her and her husband had a big family wedding to attend on that day, but the jerk who was the Northwest Airlines station manager refused to give her the day off and told her the only way to get the day off was if someone would trade with her. So far, every single agent had refused to trade and so she was stuck. With a deflated "hurumph" she left and returned to work leaving me standing there contemplating that whiteboard.

Now, it should be known that when I was in college at Embry-Riddle and working on the student newspaper, the Avion, we would do what we called "boards." Where someone would leave a serious message on the whiteboard, the rest of us would write crazy messages spoofing it. For example a simple message stating "Pat, meet me at the library at 2:00" would result in things written around it saying stuff such as "Jim- you and me- the cone of silence at 3" or "Pete, meet me at the adult detention center- bring a file in your underwear" followed by "I don't wear underwear-Pete" and so on. Eventually the entire board would be filled with nonsense that was funny as hell, all done by assorted staff members. Since then, I'm sure none of us Avion alumni can resist a whiteboard with a serious message- and neither can I.

I picked up a blue whiteboard pen and beneath Tori's message I wrote "Don't they know that Saturday is (and I scribbled some Asian looking characters) day, which is an important Holiday to the Thai people. This is just another way that Northwest Airlines discriminates against Asian people." With the thought in mind that Northwest does a huge business in Asia. I figured my message would get some attention. No sooner had I capped the pen, than our paperwork came through and I was otta there.

I did not get back to that station, or work the same shift with Tori for a few weeks.

When I did work the same shift with Tori again, she came up to me and said "I didn't know that you spoke Thai."

I frowned and answered "I don't."

She looked very puzzled and asked "Well, what was that Thai Holiday you wrote on the board?"

I told her that I had just made scribbles that looked like Asian writing- there was no Holiday. She clasped her hands over he mouth and gasped "Oh my God! Don't tell anyone!"

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It turned out that she got the day off. Another ramp agent sitting nearby burst into laughter and filled us in on what had taken place.

What happened was that shortly after I departed the idiot station manager came into the employee's room and read what I had written on the whiteboard. The ramp agent, who was there, said that the station manager pondered it for a long moment and then asked "Who wrote that?" The agent answered "One of the Airlink pilots." The management boob then asked "Is he Thia?" to which the agent replied "No, but I know his wife is Asian, because he showed me her picture." With that the cluck station manager erased my message and left in a hurry- and Tori got her requested day off.

We had a big laugh on that one- Tori told me that at the wedding she had questioned all around both her side of the family and her husband's side of the family and no one could figure out what the holiday was. She giggled and told me "We even asked my grandmother who came here from Thailand and she had no idea."

Anytime you can play on the politically correct in our society, and get a day off is fine with me. For the record, the dolt station manager never said a word to me about anything ever... not even hello. I told Tori that if she ever needed another Thai Holiday- just let me know and hand me a blue pen for the whiteboard.