I’ve Changed My Mind

Said I wouldn’t rant about my recent airline screw-up blog. Well, as promised, I’ll still steer clear of trashing employees. But I must … once again … berate the airlines for my #1 bugbear: THE REPEATED FAILURE TO TELL THE TRUTH.

Dozens of flights were screwed up at Reagan, and I even ran into non-Americans who had been wandering around the airport for two days! (Seen Tom Hanks in Terminal? You must!) Meanwhile cancelled flights were shown as leaving on time, flights would be apparently randomly dropped and added from various boards, and airline employees literally (!) barked when asked for updates. Herding people into dingy corners and on and off buses to nowhere was also a favored tactic.

The only saving grace—it’s happened to me before—is that it got so bad that it became comedy! ALL I WANTED WAS THE UNVARNISHED TRUTH! I would have been giddy with joy if a single gate person had looked me in the eye and bluntly proclaimed, “We are clueless.” It would have empowered me to be clueless too, instead of my holding on to the dim hope that things might work out.

On the topic, I read a story about a change consultant named Norm Guitry. He began a Client meeting by proclaiming, “All you need to know about mental health can be summed up in only two words.” He then proceeded to a whiteboard and wrote: “DON’T BELITTLE.” His mighty mantra: “Don’t ever, ever make people feel small.” First, I think he’s right to ascribe such oceanic power to those two words. And second, I think it applies times 10 to the airlines. They routinely belittle me, make me feel powerless. And only the Patriot Act and inherent Ashcroft-panic keeps me from lashing out with my tongue as I used to.

Psychologists, who agree on darn little, agree that … THE NEED TO BE IN PERCEIVED CONTROL … is the most powerful force in the universe. It causes everything from the rise of Hitler to air rage and schoolyard shootings. There, Ashcroft notwithstanding, I got my rant off my chest!

Tom Peters posted this on August 3, 2004, in Service.
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