Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Temple







In the early 60s, we lived in the Government Quarters along with Malays, other Chinese dialect groups, Ibans, Eurasian and so on.
Near to the houses were a small Hindu temple . There were no windows but had louvers to admit light and air. We climbed up on the wall, my brother supporting me, and we saw some statues in gold. It was full of mystique. It looked deserted because there was nobody there.

In the garden was a deep walled in well. Some one rumored that some one had drowned in the well. The water was murky. We climbed to steal the sour lime like calamansi which we ate there and then. Then there were the gardenia flowers and buds. We stole them. The plants were high up and so we had to climb. Someone screams ghost and we went screaming home.

You see. Mum had warned us not to wander there.
For nostalgia sake, I went three years ago. The temple was gone, and the modern building replaced it.
My friend said it was the smallest temple in Malaysia.

Friday, May 19, 2017

two loaves of bread

Image may contain: food

  Two elderly women didn't have enough money to pay for two loaves of bread. I paid for them and rush to give the loaves of the bread to them. It didn't cost me a lot, but gave an anecdote to write about.
People ask me where I get ideas for my writing, this is one example.

Passiflora_foetida pok pok ji

https://species.wikimedia.org/wiki/Passiflora_foetida

http://floralfridayfoto.blogspot.co.nz/

When we were young, whilst visiting grandpa in the visit, we find this vine which looks like a small cousin of the passion fruit.

We called the fruit POK POK Ji, because it makes a POK POK sould when we popped it in our mouth. Ji means seeds.

Photo from google.



Image result for Passiflora foetidaImage result for Passiflora foetida

grandma's slave


There is on internet a story on "My family's slave" by an Filipino American.

Here's an abstract of my grandma's slave from my book, From China to Borneo to Beyond.

The pronunciation of my Quang Ning dialect MUI ZUI, for a slave sounds like the sour plum, and MUI ZAI as a girl is different. I don't know what it is in other dialects.

It must have been 1900s when my grandmother brought her over to be her slave. The girl was very young. It is not sure if her parents gave her the slave while she was a young child, or whether she was given when Grandma married Grandpa.

My father, John remembered fondly of Grandmother’s mui zai (slave) whom he called Ah Jia, (big sister.) In fact he saw her more than he saw Grandmother. Grandmother worked in the rubber garden, the mui zai took care of him and his siblings. She did all the housework. His fondest memory was her  kindly separated the rough green husk of the sweet mung bean soup, so he would have it as a smooth watery thick soup. We used to tease him to be a super spiolt brat because we ate the green bean husk.

There was talk that the British government in Malaya and Singapore was going to pass an emancipation of slaves, and those not releasing the slaves would be punished.

To preempt this, when this mui zai was 16, a marriageable age, Grandfather Kee Seng arranged for a suitable mate and married her off. This was much to the aghast of Grandmother. Grandmother whinged that this mui zai was paid for by her parents; therefore she was her property. This mui zai was her slave for life. Grandfather Chan had no right to sell her property. But Grandfather would not have any part of this old feudal slavery system. They married her off to someone up the Rejang River.

The emancipation law was never passed and Grandfather never heard the end of Grandmother harping on and on about it.

Some of those mui zais maintained a good relationship, coming back to the family as though they were part of the family. In many cases where they had suffered abuse from their owner and hated them; they never came back to visit.  Some, their new family forbidden them to. Grandmother’s mui zai never came back. Father said Grandma was a difficult person  to handle. The Mui Zai was probably so glad to have her freedom.

Father did meet the mui zai many years later. Father was on official duty in a school near where she was married off to. She came and was hesitant and afraid to talk to Father, now an official of the government. She called him "Young Master" and she wanted Father to help her grand children to get into teachers’ college. She said quietly that it wasn’t that she didn’t want to visit the Chans, it was because she was not allowed to. She had been emancipated from one family into the slavery of another. She mentioned what a good family she had grown up in, and she would rather be old and single and be a mui zai in the Chan’s home. She had always loved Father very much.

I wrote about my grandma's Mui Zai in my book. I also remembered my mum almost got a Mui Zai too. It was after the World War Two. My great Grand Mother aka Ah Tai didn't want my mother to work too hard. So she bought a girl slightly older than my oldest sister. My father declined and packed the girl away. My father's rationale was in this day and age, him being a Christian should not have a Mui Zai aka slave. How could he have the conscience of having a Mui Zai who slaves away while his own daughters went to school. Ah Tai aka Great Grand Mother argued we we just pay for her in the beginning which she had already done, and don't have to pay her anymore. Mother said we just had to feed her. Ah Tai probably argued that we were doing a humanitarian favour. 

We knew about this returned Mui Zai when we had to do house work. We complained and wished we still had the Mui Zai.


My parents had 6 girls, MOI ZAI SEE (bloody useless girls) as my Bodai (maternal grandma) would call us. She said, if we were in China, I would be sold off as a slave. I was the third girl. So would all subsequent girls.

When Father paid for my University education first to Canada and then to New Zealand, Bodai said my fate was very good. Instead of being a slave, I got to fly half way round the world.  Bodai said there was something wrong with Dad's head. He studied too much in England. He educated all his MOI ZAI SEE. She also said my Dad had a Father-in-law look.


Image may contain: 6 people, people standing, flower and outdoor

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Dream Big with Weet-Bix All Blacks Collector Cards






Kiwi Kids Dare To Dream Big with Weet-Bix All Blacks Collector Cards

By Fleur Revell
11 May 2017

Life is what you make it – and All Black rugby legends know all about making the most of what they’ve got, which is why they’re inspiring Kiwi kids to take their dreams to the next level, with stories to read around the breakfast table as part of the new Weet-Bix Dare To Dream Collector Card series.

All Black Israel Dagg says when he was a youngster there wasn’t a lot of spare cash for the latest sporting gear so he and his siblings improvised.

“One of the best things we used for a rugby ball was my brother’s girlfriend’s fluffy rabbit slipper. That slipper became the centre of hundreds of exciting and fierce backyard test matches - even when we did eventually find our rugby ball!” he says.

“The pink rabbit slipper is proof that as kids you don’t need all the latest gear to succeed and achieve your dreams - you just need a big imagination,” says Dagg. “We didn’t have all the fancy equipment but that didn’t stop us, it taught us to make the most of what we had. The slipper was soft on the foot, went pretty far and didn’t smash any windows - which also kept Mum happy!” says Dagg.

Dagg says as a child, becoming an All Black seemed like a faraway dream. “I thought, ‘How could a kid with a pink slipper for a ball make it into the greatest rugby team in the world?’. That’s why the Weet-Bix Dare to Dream campaign is amazing, because it allows kids the chance to dream. When I look back, I know that it’s really all about making the best of whatever you have and having as much fun as you can. That’s how I got here,” says Dagg.

Weet-Bix has been the breakfast of choice for Kiwi kids and their families for generations. And now selected packs come with premium quality cards featuring  stories from individual All Blacks about the defining moments in their early years, and how they didn’t need the best of everything to reach their potential – just a dream and a little imagination!

For All Black Ryan Crotty, being gifted a pair of Andrew Mehrtens’ rugby socks and kicking tee while being ball boy for the Canterbury rugby team proved to be a defining moment. “I was so chuffed to be picked as a ball boy and get to see my heroes up close every week – then to be given Andrew Mehrtens’ socks, I thought I was the luckiest kid alive.”

“I wore those socks to every training and would spend hours practising my goal kicking with my prized socks on, pretending I was Andrew Mehrtens. I practised so much in those socks that they eventually had no feet left in them!” says Crotty.

Crotty says it was his dream to be an All Black from the time he was seven years old. “And the thing was, I really believed I could be. My strong self-belief came from Mum and Dad, who were the best role models a kid could ask for.”

“There’ll inevitably be people along the way who’ll laugh at you and tell you you’re too small, or not good enough, or you can’t do it - but if you believe in yourself and work hard at those dreams, anything is possible,” he says.

“It is so important to have dreams and goals and inspirations - and these are also essential things for us to pass on to younger generations, which is why Weet-Bix Dare to Dream is such a great initiative.”

The premium quality cards will be available in specially marked packs of 750g and 1.2kg of Weet-Bix from May 

Download Media Files

Download media relating to this story using the links below:


For more information contact:
Mark Devlin mark@impactpr.co.nz
+64 21 509 060
Fleur Revell fleur@impactpr.co.nz
+64 21 509 600

Written on behalf of Sanitarium by Impact PR


DOC allowing seals to be killed

https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/doc-allowing-seals-killed-if-they-get-in-way-work-kaikouras-earthquake-wrecked-main-highway

DOC allowing seals to be killed if they get in the way of work on Kaikoura's earthquake wrecked main highway

 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

170-babies-graves-damaged

https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/flowers-adornments-170-babies-graves-damaged-lawn-contractors-south-auckland-cemetery

Flowers and small adornments on about 170 babies' graves have been damaged by maintenance contractors at a South Auckland cemetery.

A grave is a place of remembrance, It is more intense when the grave belong to babies. I know, I buried a baby





Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Costus woodsonii,

http://floralfridayfoto.blogspot.co.nz/

a kind of wild ginger. Common Name: Red Button Ginger, Scarlet Spiral Flag, Red Cane, Panamanian Candle Ginger, Indian Head Ginger, Dwarf French Kiss, Dwarf Cone Ginger


Costus woodsonii, is very much favoured as a decorative landscape and garden plant or container specimen. Costus, can reach 1.5-2 m in height and spread about 1 m wide.


The flowering spike is made up of waxy red bracts, tightly overlapping like fish scales, to form an erect, cigar-shaped or torpedo-like flower head, 6-10 cm tall.
Costus woodsonii (Red Button Ginger, Scarlet Spiral Flag, Dwarf French Kiss, Dwarf Cone Ginger)The true reddish-orange flowers with inconspicuous orange-yellow labellum are edible and will peek out one at a time from between the red bracts, lasting for only a day per flower. 

San Choi Bao aka lettuce wrap aka low carb burger.


A low carb refreshing entree.

Best to use: Baby Cos lettuce/ if not, iceberg lettuce

Fillings:  Brown onion and garlic
               Stir fry mince pork or chicken
               shitaki mushroom
               can water chestnut
               strips of different colour capsicum
               flavour with salt and oyster sauce
               bean sprout.
Optional: avocado
                tomato stripes


Image may contain: plant, flower, food and indoor
 

Long Gourd

Long gourd grown in Malaysia.
  • Botanical Name : Luffa Cylindrica
  • Family Name : Cucurbitaceae
Luffa is a genus of tropical and subtropical vines in the cucumber family. In everyday non-technical usage, the luffa, also spelled loofah, usually means the fruit of the two species L. aegyptiaca and L. acutangula.

Image may contain: plant

Image may contain: plant

Friday, April 28, 2017

Costus speciosus or crepe ginger






This is another kind of wild ginger, crepe ginger (Cheilocostus speciosus).


Costus speciosus or crepe ginger is possibly the best known cultivated species of the genus Costus. This plant is native to southeast Asia, especially on the Greater Sunda Islands in Indonesia. Costus differs from the common ginger by having only one row of spirally arranged leaves.

The species reproduces vegetatively by rhizome and birds disperse seeds when they feed on the fruits.

While it is native to many Pacific Islands, it is an introduced invasive species on others, including the Cook Islands, Fiji, and Hawaii. It is cultivated in India for its medicinal uses and elsewhere as an ornamental.

 This was taken at the NTU executive centre.

http://floralfridayfoto.blogspot.co.nz/

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Peoples' School



The peoples' school.

Peoples'/Citizen school, Koong Ming/Citizen School is connected to the Chans and the Kongs. My grandfathers on both sides raised money to build the school. They served in the school board.
In 2013, we went to visit the school, and the principal explained the financial situation of the school. Last year, I read a write-up about him attending funerals to raise fund for the school.
THE headmaster of Citizen Secondary School of REjang River has passed away last Friday 75yrs old Hii Sui Chung
He worked as a headmaster n gardener ĺn general worker every day without pay really very great







Image may contain: 13 people, people standing

Image may contain: tree, plant, sky, bridge, grass, outdoor and nature

http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2015/10/25/raising-funds-from-the-dead-a-headmaster-works-tirelessly-to-get-money-to-ensure-his-school-stays-af/

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Earth Day 2017

Image may contain: sky, cloud, outdoor and naturehttp://www.earthday.org/earthday/

Earth Day 2017’s Campaign is Environmental & Climate Literacy
Education is the foundation for progress. We need to build a global citizenry fluent in the concepts of climate change and aware of its unprecedented threat to our planet. We need to empower everyone with the knowledge to inspire action in defense of environmental protection.
Environmental and climate literacy is the engine not only for creating green voters and advancing environmental and climate laws and policies but also for accelerating green technologies and jobs.


Awareness of climate means not chopping down trees when they are still very small.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Flying woes 2

Once I had frustration when dealing with Air Canada employees. I recall the rudest person I had ever encountered. It was the first time I had flown from Singapore to Windsor transit in London and Toronto.
Due to the weather, my SIA plane from Australia to Singapore to London was delayed. I was scheduled to have 4 hours transit in London. Upon arrival to London, the ground staff rushed me to the next plane. I barely got on the plane.

I slept the whole way across the Atlantic Ocean. In Toronto, I couldn't find my luggage. Twice, I went to the check in clerk. They gave me a boarding pass. My luggage still have not come out.

The third time, I went to this fat woman who tore my boarding pass. I must have cried, and spoke another clerk.

They said,"You go to the next flight, we sent you your luggage when they arrive from London. This is the last flight to Windsor.

" Why didn't anyone tell me that my luggage was still in London and go straight to Windsor?"

Luckily my friends were still waiting for me. The airline never talked about reimbursement for my taxi to go and pick up my luggage.

Decades later, my daughter flew back to Auckland without her luggage, a few days later, they delivered her lost luggage to the house. I told her about my maiden trip.I was only twenty at that time.

Willow tree and Chinese beliefs.



My Dad was bilingual. He told me a story involving a non bilingual person who named his house something like the Willow Villa. Dad said the Chinese educated people laughed until their teeth dropped.
In the Chinese beliefs,a house of willow means a brothel. I finally found out the following.
https://www.amazon.com/Dictionary-Chinese-Symb…/…/0415002281
Dictionary of Chinese Symbols: Hidden Symbols in Chinese Life and Thought (Routledge Dictionaries) Revised ed. Edition
by Wolfram Eberhard

Wolfgang Eberhard's Dictionary of Chinese Symbols:
The willow, much valued as firewood, is a symbol of spring. As spring is the season of erotic awakenings, the phrase ‘willow feelings and flower wishes’ means sexual desire; ‘looking for flowers and buying willows’ means visiting a prostitute, ‘flowers and
willows by the wayside’ are prostitutes, and ‘sleeping among flowers and reposing beneath willows’ is a term for visiting a brothel.
The waist of a beautiful woman is compared to the willow, her eyebrows to the curve of willow leaves. A young girl is a ‘tender willow and fresh flower’ while a woman who can no longer claim virginal freshness is described as ‘faded willow and
withered flower’. A woman’s pubic hair is ‘in the depths of willow shade’.

Fen Chong Ong My mother never like this tree. She said it attract ghost! It is an old Chinese saying. ka ka ka
Ann Chin
Ann Chin My Dad says it is for prostitutes.
Fen Chong Ong
Fen Chong Ong Guess our ancestors came from different part of CVhina after all. Wahhhh ka ka ka

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Malayan Cherry Tree II

Image may contain: plant, tree, sky, outdoor and nature
Image may contain: plant, flower, nature and outdoor
Jamaican Cherry Tree/ Malayan Cherry Tree/
Muntingia calabura
Jamaican/Japanese Cherry, Buah Ceri/Kerukup Siam(Malay)


This is a tree of my youth, it evokes a lot of emotions. some of us remember it with LOL now, some with anger, and some block it.



The Cherry Tree is named for its sweet sticky fruits, juicy and full of tiny seeds. They are a favourite with birds and bats, which disperse the seeds, and children too! The leaves are covered with tiny sticky hairs. 

When I was in Junior primary school, we lived in Padang Road where it was government quarters for civil servants. In the garden where mum and dad kept ducks and chicken, there were two saplings that we were told to be cherry trees. There were tiny fruits which were sweet with a hint of tart. Father told us not to climb the trees.

But we didn't listen. The bigger fruits were up on top, and there were sparse ones at the bottom. We climbed, timing it that we climbed down before Dad came home.

That fateful day, Dad drove home while we were still up the tree. He ordered us upstairs, without a word, he took the axe and chopped down the trees. We looked out of the window feeling so ashamed. 

It seemed the whole neighbourhood's aunties and uncles were there finger pointing at us, probably discussing what naughty children we were to invoke the anger of Dad and provoked him to chop the tree down. The children were torturing us showing the big cherry.

I was still angry because it was such an embarrassment.  About ten years ago, we kids talked about it. I expressed my hurt arguing why did Dad plant the tree knowing children being children will climb the tree to get the fruits. Rose, the oldest sister said, Dad didn't plant the tree, a bird had planted it. Elizabeth said, it was better for the trees to be chopped down, then for us to fall and break a leg, and worst still, for us to land on our head with fatal consequences.

Recently, on internet, a school allowed students to climb trees until a student fell and died. That was the end of tree climbing in that school. 

Malayan Cherry Tree

Image may contain: plant, tree, sky, outdoor and nature

Image may contain: plant, flower, nature and outdoor
Jamaican Cherry Tree/ Malayan Cherry Tree/
Muntingia calabura
Jamaican/Japanese Cherry, Buah Ceri/Kerukup Siam(Malay)

This is a tree of my youth, it evokes a lot of emotions. some of us remember it with LOL now, some with anger, and some block it.

Jamaican Cherry Tree
Muntingia calabura

Jamaican/Japanese Cherry, Buah Ceri/Kerukup Siam(Malay)


The Cherry Tree is named for its sweet sticky fruits, juicy and full of tiny seeds. They are a favourite with birds and bats, which disperse the seeds, and children too! The leaves are covered with tiny sticky hairs. 

Although it provides good shade, it is not a popular wayside tree because the birds and bats that visit the tree also leave their droppings under the tree.

The tree flourishes in poor soil, tolerating both acid and alkaline conditions and quite drought resistant. However, it doesn't tolerate salty conditions and so is not a true mangrove associate.

Real poppies











I am a very practical person, and it is hard to believe myself that I was such a romantic at once stage of my life. I haven't told many people about this story except to a few fellow bloggers.

It was more than 30 years ago, I had finished my degree at the Auckland University and along with a couple of students we were doing our summer vacation job. I was also getting married just before Christmas.

I walked to work to save money, and on my way, I saw this clump of tall wild plants with orange flowers. I went to pick the flowers like Red Riding Hood. It wasn't easy, as the plants had those cutting hairs that hurt my hands. I got carried away, and arrived at work late.

The foreman was waiting at the clock-in and asked why I was late. I tried to hide my flowers and the rest of the full time girls saw me. They teased me if I was getting married. I was so embarrassed and quickly kept the flowers in the locker. The girls "dan dan dan dan" of the Wedding March..

After work, I retrieved my flowers. They had wilted. For all my trouble, I got a bunch of useless flowers.

The girls told me, "Poppies need water."

Here you are, whenever I see poppies, I remember that day.

My 13 year old son asks,"Are you allowed to pick flowers on the road side?"

http://floralfridayfoto.blogspot.co.nz/ 

Mango Lassi

Image may contain: drink and indoor

This is a good recipe, you can use fresh fruit or canned fruit. Creamy, sweet and tart from the yoghurt.

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe mangos or 2 cans of mango slices
  • 2 cups natural unsweetened yoghurt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Optional: honey and passion fruit pulp, spices such as cardamom and cumin.

Preparation

  1. Blend all ingredients together.
  2. Add honey or passionfruit pulp if desired.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

malaysia-airlines-confuses-auckland-for-christchurch

http://www.stuff.co.nz/travel/news/91681734/malaysia-airlines-confuses-auckland-for-christchurch
Malaysia Airlines' social media did the carrier no favours on Tuesday evening, confusing two New Zealand cities.

GETTY IMAGES
Malaysia Airlines' social media did the carrier no favours on Tuesday evening, confusing two New Zealand cities.
Malaysia Airlines - or at least its social media operator - has got its New Zealand geography mixed up.
The airline's social media account confused Auckland with Christchurch on Tuesday.
"Standing tall above Christchurch is the volcanic Mt. Eden," read a post on the airline's Facebook wall, uploaded with an image of the extinct volcano and a distant Sky Tower on Tuesday evening.
The accompanying picture was of Mt Eden (in Auckland), along with the airline's logo.
MALAYSIA AIRLINES/FACEBOOK
The accompanying picture was of Mt Eden (in Auckland), along with the airline's logo.
"Once a fortified Maori village, the hill is now home to a vibrant suburb that offers some of the finest cultural and natural sights in Christchurch."
READ MORE:
Air New Zealand admits airfare mistake
The case of the missing cases: Malaysia Airlines suffers latest gaffe
Airline's '50 Shades of Grey' gaffe

The post has since been removed from the airline's Facebook page.
Followers responded to the gaffe with surprise and sarcasm.
Kean Leong wrote, "Get your geography right. It is Mt Eden, Auckland you are talking about. Please do not fly me to the wrong city."

Sunday, April 16, 2017

flying woes

Mrs Anna Kwek Rocha once boarded a flight to find someone already in her seat.

http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/no-room-on-the-plane

journey, I too, like Mrs. Rocha found a woman sitting in my seat. I told her that was my seat and she refused to budge. She said I could sit in hers, a window seat, a better seat so I can have a better view. I didn't want to tell her I didn't want a window seat. I wasn't a young kid who wanted to look out of the window, and I prefer to go to the bathroom without jumping over her.

There were no steward or stewardess in sight. I just sat down. I wanted to avoid a scenario where two middle aged women were reported fighting in a plane.
 
Travellers queueing at a check-in counter at the Departure Hall of Changi Airport Terminal 2. Travellers queueing at a check-in counter at the Departure Hall of Changi Airport Terminal 2. Travellers queueing at a check-in counter at the Departure Hall of Changi Airport Terminal 2.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

a pilot's wife

April 11, 2017 AngeliaJGriffin (Thoughts from a Pilot Wife About Flight 3411)

“I’m not saying it’s pretty, but the only one who actually broke a law was the passenger.

The pilot's wife wrote because she knew about the laws, of aviation. She can stuff her knowledge and stop being condescending. Instead of pouring oil on troubled waters, she writes it is all the passenger's fault. If it is, why are millions of people wrong, and why did the CEO eventually apologizing.

The Chinese have a saying, if you don't open your mouth, no body will know you are stupid.

Finally, it doesn't matter that Dr Dao is a Vietnamese or a Chinese. For all I can conjecture, he could be an ethnic Chinese, just like me, an ethnic Chinese born outside China.
Ann, writer


I Know You’re Mad at United but… (Thoughts from a Pilot Wife About Flight 3411)


I Know You’re Mad at United but… (Thoughts from a Pilot Wife About Flight 3411)

If there’s one thing I have learned over the years, it’s that there are always two sides to every story.
On April 9th, a very unfortunate incident played out on United Flight 3411, the video of which has since gone viral causing a mass social media uprising with an ‘off-with-their-heads’ mentality. I mean, across the board. Fire ’em all and let the gods sort it out later.
Look, I get it. When I first saw the video I was appalled too. To say that it was inflammatory would be putting it mildly. But it was also a situation that was escalated far beyond the boundaries of necessity.
If a federal law enforcement officer asks me to exit a plane, no matter how royally pissed off I am, I’m going to do it and then seek other means of legal reimbursement. True story.
Knowing what I know about airport security, I’m certainly not going to run back into a secured, federally restricted area at an airport flailing my arms and screaming like a banshee…because, you know, that just happens to be breaking a major federal Homeland Security law.
But that’s just me. Obviously.
The moment I made that particular ill-advised choice, I would become an immediate and imminent threat to the aircraft’s security. That’s kind of a big deal. I mean, come on, I once actually had to remove my infant son’s socks because they mimicked little baby sneakers. These guys mean business.
I didn’t like it. I thought it was just plain stupid, honestly. But instead of pitching a massive fit, refusing to comply, and bolting through the TSA checkpoint like an out-of-control toddler, I did the big girl thing–sucked it up, removed the offensive socks, and went on with my happy life, sans being tackled and dragged through the airport in handcuffs by a bunch of big men with guns.
Because if you choose to take advantage of the services the airport provides, you play by their rules.
I know you’re all out there screaming that the ‘rules’ are unfair, but I am a pilot wife. I remember 9/11. Do you? I want my husband, the father of my children, to come home. I want you to get homeThat law exists to protect my husband. And your wife. And your grandmother. And your child. And you. I, for one, am glad for the law.
I’m not here to dispute the facts of 3411 with you. I am not interested in getting into an argument of opinion with anyone. We’re all entitled to our own. I’m not arguing that what happened wasn’t completely terrible–it was, on multiple levels. But I am suggesting that the general public take another look at the situation, ask a few more questions, gather a few more facts, and then create a less hostile and more intellectually wrought opinion about what happened.
Because the media is giving you just enough information to keep you enraged–enough to keep their ratings up.
Things to consider:
1) “You can’t just kick a paying customer off the plane!” Psssst! It’s in the fine print. They can, indeed, do just that. And it’s not an airline specific rule, it’s a commercial aviation rule. Every ticket you purchase comes with a plethora of fine print–you know, the stuff we just click ‘next’ on without actually reading what we are agreeing to. Yeah, that. Well, it’s in there, and you checked the ‘I agree’ box when you purchased your ticket. You can read about it and oh-so-much-more here. Kind of makes you want to read all those tiny words on your next phone update before you click ‘I agree’, huh? You should. United did not break any law, and he agreed to the policy and possibility of involuntary bump when he bought his ticket. And so do you.
2) “Kicking a paying customer off an airplane!? I’m taking my business to Southwest!” Ummmm, okay. But just be sure you understand that every major airline, Southwest included, has a similar policy for involuntary bumping in a ‘must ride’ scenario. Don’t believe me? It’s called the contract of carriage. If you’re really bored, you can read Southwest’s here. Or Delta’s here. Believe me, it’s in there.  This could have been any airline. In fact, it happens all the time. Most people just don’t wrestle the feds in the aisle.
3: “So what’s this ‘must ride’ nonsense anyway? They shouldn’t bump a paying customer for a free employee ride!” I’m afraid you’re going to have to take this up with the federal government, not United. And it’s actually pretty important to you as an airline traveler anyway. They were not ‘freeloading home’. That’s called non-rev and they have to wait in line behind your checkbook and often don’t make it home to their families if flights are booked (believe me, I know). No, this was a must fly, a positive space situation. In layman terms, it means that a crew must be flown to an airport to man a flight in order to avoid cancellation of said flight due to crew unavailability. This is a federal DOT regulation, not an airline one. The airlines are required to do so to avoid disruption of air traffic. In other words, if there are no willing volunteers and they need seats to get a crew somewhere to avoid disruption of aviation flow, they can, will, must by federal regulation bump people for the better good of the 1000’s. Why? Because one cancelled flight has a serious domino affect in the delicate, complicated world of connections and aviation law.
4: “It’s the airline’s fault for not planning better!” You obviously have no clue about the complexities of aviation travel and should do some research. There are about a million and one things that can cause a crew shortage including but not limited to weather, maintenance, weather, connecting fight delays, weather, FAA timeout regs, and did I mention weather? I wish I could control Mother Nature because I would be one filthy rich person. But I can’t. And neither can United. So they inconvenience one, or four, to keep hundreds on track. Do the math. And of course, if we were on the other end of this thing, we’d be tirading and blowing up the internet because United didn’t bump a passenger to make sure our flight didn’t get cancelled and left hundreds stranded. Damned if you do; damned if you don’t. We’re a fickle crowd, we social media folks.
5: They shouldn’t have picked the minority Chinese doctor! It’s racist.” That’s just silly. Though federal regulation demands they involuntarily bump to prevent interruption of flights when necessary, each airline does have the leniency to determine how they choose the bumped passengers. They did not play spin the bottle or walk down the aisle looking for the Asian guy. Use your heads, people! There is a computerized algorithm that takes into account price of ticket, how long ago it was purchased, whether or not they can get the passenger to their destination in a timely manner, etc. It wasn’t an ‘Asian thing.’ Stop, people. Just stop.
6: “United should go under for assaulting that passenger! Fire the entire crew!” Read the facts. United neeeever touched the passenger. In fact, by all witness accounts, the United flight crew remained calm and pleasant throughout the entire event, never laying hands on the passenger. They followed protocol as required by law. Once law enforcement became involved (also as required by federal protocol), United stepped out of the decision-making process. They had nothing to do with the rest. The passenger was forcibly removed by federal aviation security (the disturbing clip that everyone is talking about) after running back into the secured area after being escorted out once. Once he did that, like it or not, they (law enforcement) were under full discretion of the law to apply necessary force to remove the threat. I’m not saying it’s pretty, but the only one who actually broke a law was the passenger. There’s a reason for these laws–it’s called 9/11. We can’t have it both ways. But by all means, let’s berate and punish an entire flight crew–in fact thousands of pilots, FA’s, gate attendents, ground crew, etc.–because it makes us all feel a little better.
7: “You piece of **it!” I get that the passengers were upset, angry, maybe even confused. I get that you are too. After all, media is tossing you out chunks of bloody meat like you’re a pack of starving wolves. But I’m seriously disgusted that the poor must ride crew that had to take those seats after the unfortunate mess that unraveled were verbally abused and threatened. Can you imagine the very uncomfortable position they were in? Then they were demeaned, belittled, threatened. Along with many others all over the internet and airports today. They were and are men and women doing their jobs to feed their families. Just. Like. You.  They didn’t have a choice. They didn’t ask for this. They didn’t assault anyone. They are not a corporation; they are individuals who need a job. They are my friends and maybe even my husband. There’s a very fine line between what you despise and becoming what you despise. Many of the comments and actions I have seen perpetrated against United employees cross it. Don’t become what you hate.
Like I said, I know you’re mad at United, but there’s much more to the story than hits the media fan.
I truly hope that this gives you something to chew on and gives you a smidgen more insight into the complexities of aviation. I’m not making excuses. I think there were bad decisions made on both sides. However, I am saying there are always two sides to every story. Make sure you consider them both.
Tailwinds.
***A correction to the previous article. Mr. Dao was indeed Vietmanese and not Chinese.  That quote was verbatim from a comment off the internet. I apology profusely for the confusion.
Angelia (A Pilot Wife)
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I usually don't deep fry my spring rolls, you can if you wish.