I am recently home from a trip that took me by air through the city of Atlanta. I have flown hundreds of thousands of miles in my adult life; heck, I even flew home from Finland in 1958 aboard the old Lockheed four propeller trans-atlantic workhorse, back in the day when everyone got a table cloth and real glassware at meal time. But I digress.
In Atlanta I was met by staff who were supposed to escort me to my connecting flight. How do I say this without becoming bellicose or just plain mean? These escorts had no training in working with people with disabilities and they had poor communication skills. One fellow insisted that I sit in a wheelchair if he was going to guide me. His method of expression was to shout loudly: "You sit! You sit!"
I said I'd find my own way and booked it up the escalator.
Two Delta airlines flight attendants saw this situation as it unfolded and very graciously caught up with me and offered to help me. They then revealed that the services for the elderly and people with disabilities at the Atlanta airport are in their view the worst in the nation. They were embarrassed but also quick to point out that the company that provides this all important public service is not in any way connected with the airlines. "You get what you pay for," said one of the flight attendants.
How it works:
1. Devalue the elderly and people with disabilities at the management level of the Atlanta airport.
2. Hire a company that cuts costs by hiring people with poor public service skills.
3. Offer these underpaid and unprepared employees insufficient in-service training.
4. Imagine that you've got the job done!
So in essence, a handful of fat cats are banking the profits and real human beings are collectively under-educated, under-served, and poorly served.
I should add that in Ireland I was met at the airport by efficient, friendly, and competent personnel who took some pride in what they were doing. And yes, they were workers from other countries in the European Union. I surmise that it's possible to save money and still perform a public service with a social conscience.
And that is finally my point. There are some very highly placed people in the Atlanta airport who lack evident concern about the governance and maintenance of the community's social conscience.
"You sit! You sit!"
Heck, my dog and I have better conversations than that.