Saturday, December 14, 2013

We're Sorry For The Slight Delay ...

Years of travel for work involved a considerable amount of time spent in airports; and while part of that involved getting from place to place, damn near as much involved dealing with the inevitable delays involved in the process.  The holidays, with their high volume of traffic and potentially inclement winter weather were especially troubling where this was concerned.

"We're sorry for the slight delay," was a gate area death knell sounded all too frequently over the years.  One which was inevitably followed by a plethora of somewhat plausible, but often feckless statements like:
  • The airport (though not necessarily the one you're at) is under delay or closed due to weather 
  • Your incoming aircraft has been delayed
  • We're experiencing a mechanical problem with your aircraft
It didn't matter what this moderately pleasant voice was trying to tell you however, since airline gate agents are well-schooled in misstating, misleading, and misrepresenting any semblance of the truth if it means maintaining the peace amongst a largely barbarian hoard of travelers.  (Those with advanced degrees often later became political spokespeople or press secretaries.)   

When a lack of additional information (accurate or not) began to fray nerves and raise tempers, bringing the palpable level of tension at the gate to a level that would normally snap a bowstring, equally distressing information was dribbled out in tone that now seemed not only less compassionate, but wholly unrepentant:
  • We've discover the problem with the aircraft, but are now waiting on a part
  • The weather's opening up at the airport, but incoming flights await their own ATC (Air Traffic Control) release   
  • The incoming aircraft finally departed, but our airport is now below minimums and your flight will be circling the airport if and when it gets here
  • The aircraft has been repaired, but must now be refueled/de-iced before we can even hope to board  
As continued delay and obfuscation finally wore down the spirits of a once raging throng, they became little more than a dispirited and wretched mob that was now dropping to their knees in tearful supplication to whatever Deity they believed in for deliverance from their airline oppressors.  Undaunted and unrelenting in their misery disbursement, these tormentors sought to inflict a final bit of auditory suffering to a now utterly cowed collective of traveling human debris:
  • The aircraft you're waiting for has finally arrived, but instead of here at A-4, it will now be departing out of G-22
  • Our aircraft is now ready to depart, but unfortunately the delay incurred means that the original crew is now being placed on forced rest and we must await the arrival of a new crew before we can begin to board 
  • We're awaiting final paperwork, but if it doesn't reach us in the next five minutes, we'll miss the only departure window currently available and will have to wait for the next one 
I'm reminded of those days of abuse and sadism a lot lately as I watch Kathleen Sebelius, Jay Carney, the 'Waiver Granter-in-Chief' tap dance their way through recent press conferences and Congressional hearings on the Affordable Healthcare Act.  Accurate information on the ACA seems harder to come by these days than were details on the Manhattan Project during WWII.  It would probably be easier to hack personal information out of the system than it is to get a straight numbers from anyone with a government-issued microphone on something as simple as how many have successfully completed the sign up process and made their first payment.  (Where's Julian Assange or Edward Snowden when you need the creepy little bastards?)

The information that has been released to date is so full of obvious evasion and equivocation as to be next to useless (though most seem so happy to get it that no one seems to mind).  Any 'facts' or 'numbers' handed out carry more caveats than the sales contract warranty coverage used at 'Fly By Night Motors'.  The closest we come to anything resembling 'facts' as opposed to government issued 'truth' is when Secretary Sebelius or the President announce a waiver or delay in implementation; which at least tells us that that some part of the law either doesn't work properly yet, greatly offends a powerful special interest group, or would produce politically detrimental press coverage before the 2014 election.

Unfortunately, the strategy that the government has learned from the airlines has proved far too successful these days with a largely uninformed public.  Constantly lied to and recognizing that we've long since lost control of this situation (and the future), most now placidly await the next tidbit of disinformation with the same vague expression that the have for the next divorce announcement or plastic surgery attempt going on in the Kardashian family.  Fed up with months of inactivity, many get so caught up in seeing any movement of the queue that they forget to look down and notice that it's pushing them ever closer to the cliff's edge.  So desperate are they to get even bad news, that they gladly swallow the rosy interpretations and 'glass half-full assurances' delivered with them, and refuse to look beyond the sophistry and deception contained in the absurd pronouncements being made.   

The only thing missing of course, is government adopting airline language itself (and maybe a version of that's next):

"We're sorry for the slight delay in the implementation of the Affordable Healthcare Act due to circumstances that should have been well within our control, but which we mostly believe are none of your damn business.  We're sorry for the inconvenience, but since there's nothing you can really do about it now ... not so much.  We expect no change in the situation soon and little more than bad news to pass on to you; so sit back, relax your crack, and we'll get around telling you what we want you to hear when we damn well feel like it."


No comments: