Archive for February, 2011

To Mike and Dan Andelman: A Call for A Public Apology

Book Chapter: Human-to-Human Service

Posted: 02/25/2011

Subsequent to my last blog post, I sent an email to several members of all types of media asking the following question:

If someone called your daughter, co-worker, sister, mother, girlfriend, partner, wife, female friend or relative a moron and a monkey for doing her job, what would you do?

The email went on to say:

Michael Andelman, of Phantom Gourmet infamy, did just that on his radio show on 2/12 referencing a hostess at Grill 23, one of Boston’s most respected restaurants since they opened in 1983. He also stated that all hostesses were incompetent and incapable of doing anything else. The degradation of women and insults made on the radio program are unacceptable.

In response to the email, The Boston Globe contacted Mike Andelman and ran a story on 2/23 stating, he [Mike] told us the comments were meant to be facetious. “Our radio show is obviously satire.”

Anyone who listens to the audio (below) will know that Mike’s, “I was just kidding” excuse is a lame attempt at backpedalling.

Today I sent the enclosed email to Mike and Dan Andelman and cc’d everyone at Phantom Gourmet and the executives at Greater Media, Inc., who own and operate WTKK, 96.9-FM, the radio station from which Mike and Dan made their insulting comments.

Please read the email and see the recommendations at the end of this post if you support the call for a public apology from the Andelmans.

Dear Mike and Dan-

My name is Patrick Maguire. I author a blog called, I’m Your Server Not Your Servant, advocating for service industry workers.

I’m sure you are aware of the responses that have ensued as a result of the comments you made on the Phantom Gourmet radio program aired on 2/12/11 on WTKK-FM, 96.9.

In case you missed any of them, they can all be accessed here:

– 2/18/11 Blog Post- Server Not Servant: All Hostesses are Good-Looking, Incompetent and Can’t Do Anything Else in Life. Really?
– 2/21/11 Universal HUB: It’s painful to watch grown men in the media throw tantrums.
– 2/22/11 Grub Street-Boston: The Phantom Gourmet Can’t Get Seated at Grill 23, Performs Un-P.C. Pout
– 2/23/11 Boston Globe: ‘Phantom’ host grilled for remarks
– 2/23/11 Grub Street-Boston: Phantom Gourmet Specializes in Satire, Not Offensiveness
– 2/22/11 Universal HUB: Grill 23 owners say Phantom Gourmet proves the customer isn’t always right
– 2/22/11 Boston Yelp Talk
– 2/23/11 Chowhound-Food and Media News
– 2/23/11 A Boston Food Diary: The Public Humiliation of a Hostess
                                     – 2/26/11 You Just Got Sat-Not a Phan

I recommend that you read all of the comments following each piece.

You had a week between radio shows to reflect on your comments that were posted on the 96.9 website (2/12/11 Eddie and Mike go to a Celtics game), and to consider issuing a public apology on your 2/19 program. You failed to do that, and mysteriously the audio has been removed from the 96.9 website.

The only public comments I have seen from either one of you are in a piece by Mark Shanahan & Meredith Goldstein in The Boston Globe on 2/23:

“Phantom Gourmet” host Mike Andelman is surprised by the online criticism concerning comments he made on “The Phantom Gourmet” radio show about restaurant hostesses. Ranting about a Grill 23 hostess who wouldn’t seat him in the dining room before the dinner hour began, Andleman said all restaurant hostesses are attractive but incompetent. Yesterday, he told us the comments were meant to be facetious. “Our radio show is obviously satire,”…

Are you really surprised, Mike? You called a woman a moron and a monkey!!!

In case you haven’t listened to your comments from the 2/12 program, here is the audio:

WTKK-FM, 96.9: 2/12 Eddie and Mike go to a Celtics game

Mike- The audio makes it clear that you weren’t being facetious while hurling invective at Grill 23, their hostess, and all hostesses during your radio rant. You sounded angry, agitated and vindictive. Attempting to employ the pathetic, “I was just kidding” excuse to downplay your comments and cover your tracks won’t fly.

If you stand by your comments, then why not re-post the audio on 96.9 and on the Phantom Gourmet website?

I am writing on behalf of everyone who has contacted me and asked me to request a public apology from you and Dan. Here is who deserves an apology and why:

#1. The hostess at Grill 23.

Your comments from the 2/12 radio show:

We walk in and the hostess who’s the typical hot woman, rude, cold-as-ice, never would talk to me in high school-type girl…She goes, “Two?”, and I said, yes. And she looks at us and says, “I’m sorry, we’re not open until 5:30, so there’s nothing I can do.”

If the owner of Grill 23 was standing next to this dumb hostess, this moronic hostess who was just getting her, uh, jollies off by sticking to rules of  her little brochure in a little binder. This little monkey, her only job is to look at this binder and say don’t let people in ‘till 5:30.

Your sexist comments insult and degrade a whole class of service employees.

How would you respond if someone made those comments about a female family member, friend or colleague of yours on a public radio show?

Are you still surprised about the criticism?

A small sampling of comments from SNS blog readers after reading my recent blog post:

A Boston Food Diary: Might I ask – what on earth makes them think that this woman’s appearance has anything to do with their not getting to break the rules as they apply to EVERY patron of Grill 23?…Might I remind you that all of this is because she was unable, not that she wouldn’t, but she was unable to satisfy a request that blatantly went against the rules of her place of employment.

Jules: When will people understand that “no” does not always equal rude?

DC: The comments made about the hostess are insanely inappropriate. To call anyone a “little monkey” is beyond rude. To not just imply, but to say outright that she is stupid and incapable is worse, but to comment on her body like she’s a piece of meat? Disgusting. Every host I worked with was in college and working until midnight to pay for it. Glad the Andelmans have such a high opinion of women.

CP: …what struck me about this is that he probably wouldn’t have treated a man like that or made such remarks after the fact. Ugh!

Beth: Wow. I deal with ‘guests’ like this every shift at work. They are rude, condescending and clearly have no idea how a restaurant works. I’ve been in the business for 17 years. Since they think that it’s monkey work, they can come work with a shift beside me for a night and see how they feel after that.

#2- All current and former restaurant hostesses.

Your comments from the 2/12 show:

There’s not a hostess who’s not good-looking because they’re incompetent and can’t do anything else in life. If you can’t model, when you’re good-looking enough and not tall enough to model, you stand behind a little box and say, “How many?”

– This insulting, offensive generalization is wrong on so many levels.

Comments by SNS readers:

Jules: 90% of our hostesses are either college-educated or in college. One of them has been accepted to multiple Ivy League schools, she just needs to pick one. Sound like a brainless monkey to you?

SkippyMom: I have served with hosts and hostesses of all types (male, female, ‘good-looking’, not so ‘good-looking’, educated, working on a degree, not ‘educated’.) – and I will tell you – it is a dang hard job – and being “pretty” isn’t a requirement and being told “no” is NOT being rude, it is their job.

Ali: I’ve been a hostess in my life on a number of occasions. Currently, I’m getting my PhD. That is all.

Rebs: If they think that hosting only involves looking good and asking “How many?” then they are clearly clueless…Hosts have to multi-task as much as anyone else on the floor. Greeting guests, fielding phone calls, taking coats, seating guests, managing the seating chart, managing the wait list, making sure all servers are getting an equal amount of covers [guests]. Occasionally they take cocktail orders and deliver them. All while looking cool and calm.

Lotsie: Hey Michael-Just thought you should know – I am a hostess. I’m also a full-time student graduating from Harvard University this spring with a BA in Psychology. And, oh, by the way, I’m also a professional ballet dancer. Clearly, according to you, I’m incapable of doing anything else besides asking, “How Many?” when people like you come in to eat. Just thought you should keep this in mind for the future – some of us want to be working there, some of us need to be working, but none of us are incompetent and/or incapable of doing anything else. In fact, most of us will probably do much more important things with our lives in the long run than you. That’s all.

#3- The owners and employees of  Grill 23. All restaurant employees. All diners, and everyone who listens to or watches you – including your ‘Phans’.

You’re supposed to be a restaurant guy who is familiar with how and why restaurants operate the way they do. For better or for worse, (in this case worse) some people trust you for dining advice and restaurant etiquette. You should know how well-run restaurants work.

The Grill 23 incident, and your subsequent comments, indicate that you do not understand standard restaurant protocol, nor how to escalate service or hospitality concerns. When you set a bad example for the dining public, you fuel the ignorant, entitled contingent who think it’s ok to run roughshod over employees and then complain about them when they don’t get their way.

Restaurant customers have almost as much influence on the success of the dining experience as do restaurant employees. Putting up with the demanding public goes with the territory as a restaurant employee, but tolerating abuse and disparaging, inappropriate remarks should not.

Mike (on the radio) 2/12: Yeah, she says no, and so we basically, you know under our breath say F-you and we leave, and we walk across the street.

– On the radio segment, you never mentioned asking for, or speaking with, a manager. If the explanation by the hostess wasn’t sufficient, you should have spoken with a manager on the spot. Instead, you did nothing and set a bad example for diners and all amateur restaurant reviewers by using your radio platform to complain. By doing so, you are encouraging misguided, elitist customers who think that bitching publicly (Yelp, Chowhound, etc.) is better than speaking with someone in the restaurant who can listen, react and possibly remedy a problem.

Comments by SNS readers:

Rachel: I used to be a hostess and fielded a million ‘Mikes’…And in those teeming masses that came to the restaurant every night, there were always 20+ a night that thought that they were just so much more special than the rest in the crowd and the rules that management had put in place to ensure that the crowd was accommodated in the most efficient way possible. So, to see things through the hostess’ eyes, she had a very clear rulebook to follow, had probably told at least 5 of the 20 people who were in the bar (as per the rules) that they could not seat themselves in the closed restaurant, and now had her 6th person trying to do the same.

Sue: Most of us who work in the “service industry,” including restaurant hosts and hostesses, are not there because we’re stupid; or because we have no other choice. We actually find pleasure in our jobs, whether it’s the good, honest work or the opportunity to meet and interact with a multitude of people. Those guys owe that hostess, and Grill 23, a great big apology…

If I had run and gotten the manager every time some whiny bastard acted like he had never been asked to wait in a busy restaurant before, the manager would hate me for it. If Mike had asked to speak to a manager, or become utterly intractable, then, yes, a manager would have to be consulted …

K Town: The fact that they didn’t ask for a manager flags them as rubes. Phantom Gourmet is not to be trusted if they do not understand how to be diners or how to lead by example.

DC: I worked in restaurants for 8 years, including some very high-end ones…Feel free to make requests; most will happily honor them. Vegetarian? No problem. Table too wobbly? Will fix. But demanding that a restaurant open early when the kitchen is probably still prepping, when most of the staff is eating family meal, when the dining room is being cleaned and set to your exacting standards, when the servers are learning the night’s specials and the host is making sure all reservations will have a place to sit? No. The customer is not right in this situation, and the hostess was doing her job by offering the customer an alternative.

Jay: I’m sorry I missed the [Phantom Gourmet radio] segment. I called to ask if they’d run it a bit earlier so I could catch it, and can you believe they said no?!?

Brett: Concerning their remarks on the radio program – they should be ashamed of themselves. Hearing that type of dialogue (on air!) makes my blood boil, not just because I have been in the business for over 20 years and started as a host, but because of the idiotic commentary from people who claim to be restaurant ‘experts’.

Alex: The frequency of this situation truly illustrates the sense of entitlement that people feel in restaurants. The Andelman’s sense of “give me what I want now” happens all too frequently. Show me any other retail (which is what restaurants are) store that will let you do whatever you want when you want to. Just try and go to Macy’s and tell the staff there that while you understand they don’t officially open until 10, you don’t have anything to do for the next 30 minutes and would just like to browse around while they set up…

MC Slim JB: There’s a line, a tipping point, where the needs of one customer impinges on the smooth operation of the business, and can make other customers feel put out as well. Yes, you risk losing that particular customer, but for most businesses, that will be a net gain. This would be true even if you didn’t risk making your employees feel undervalued by always taking the side of every customer with an undeserved sense of entitlement. Bend over backwards, by all means, but don’t break your own neck doing it.

Dan Andelman- Here are the comments you made on the 2/12 radio show in response to Mike’s comments about the Grill 23 hostess:

How did she look from the back?

Although in her defense she was good-looking, apparently. I’d like to see a picture. Was she wearing yoga pants? These are things I want to know. I have a thing for hostesses.

I don’t think you need anyone to elaborate on why your comments were inappropriate and who deserves an apology.

This email is being circulated via blog post to every current and former restaurant industry employee I can reach, all members of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association, as well as every media outlet and restaurant in the Greater Boston Area and beyond.


If you support this call for a public apology, here are some things you can do to get involved:

#1. Send the Andelmans an email and tell them what you think.

Mike Andelman:

Dan Andelman:

Dave Andelman:

#2. Copy management at Greater Media, Inc.

Tom Baker-Boston Market Manager:

Grace Blazer- Boston Program Director:

Peter Smythe- Chairman and CEO:

Edward Nolan- VP and CFO:

Heidi Raphael- VP Corporate Communications:

Feel free to cc me on your email @

#3- Write “Boycott Until Apology” every time Phantom Gourmet posts on their facebook wall.

#4- Write “Boycott Until Andelmans Apologize” every time 96.9 posts something on facebook.

#4- Call the studio line at 96.9 between 4-7 on Saturday during the Phantom Gourmet radio program and tell them you support a public apology. The studio line is 617-822-1969, or Verizon wireless #969.

#5 Forward this link to everyone who should know about it.

Thank you.

Permalink | Posted in Human-to-Human Service | 23 Comments »

All Hostesses are Good-Looking, Incompetent and Can’t Do Anything Else in Life. Really?

Book Chapter: Customer Hall of Shame

Posted: 02/18/2011

So wrong, on so many levels.

I started paying attention to the Phantom Gourmet after they asked me to appear on their TV show representing restaurant servers during a ‘food fight’ segment pitting servers against chefs. The morning after I agreed to appear, I sent an email to the senior producer (who booked me) asking if Phantom Gourmet had made a decision about their affiliation with The Upper Crust Pizzeria, a major sponsor embroiled in a controversy involving their exploitation of undocumented workers. Pending allegations against the owner of Upper Crust include a threat to kill a former veteran manager.

If Phantom Gourmet had plans to sever their relationship with Upper Crust, I was going to honor with my commitment. There was no response to my email so I left a voicemail and a second email the next day. No response. In all fairness, it was Christmas week, but I did not receive an auto-response email stating that the producer was on vacation, and his outgoing voicemail message didn’t state that he was out of the office.

The next day I watched the Phantom Gourmet TV program and confirmed that they were still running Upper Crust ads. A day later they unabashedly promoted Upper Crust on facebook. That endorsement solidified their position, and was enough for me to withdraw from the TV show via email. I never received a response from the producer.

For those of you unfamiliar with Phantom Gourmet, they are a Boston-based company that features weekly radio and TV shows devoted to food, restaurants and dining out. The company is owned by the Andelman brothers, Dan, Dave and Mike. Their mystique (shtick is more accurate) is centered around an anonymous restaurant critic (the Phantom) whose reviews appear on their program.

Their shows are largely infomercials for their sponsors laced with more inane banter than I can stomach. Though it is widely known that their singular ‘phantom’ critic is a myth (several people gather research), they have a widespread following of fawning ‘Phans’ (cringe) chugging their purple Kool-Aid. Ironically, they often mock and insult their own audience as well as the people who attend and work at their events.

Their motto: Food and Fun is all we serve.

Yeah, with a side of extra cheese…

I tuned in to a few of the Phantom Gourmet programs, only to see if they responded to the widespread media coverage surrounding the Upper Crust imbroglio. As far as I know, they have not publicly responded to any of the stories questioning their support of Upper Crust, including those published in the Boston Phoenix, Adam’s Hospitality & Tourism BlogUniversal HUB, Grub Street Boston, Yelp, Dave Copeland’s blog and this blog.

One exception was a facebook post by Dave Andelman quoted on Dave Copeland’s blog:

Dave Andelman: Some blogs and real media companies tried taking some unfair, untrue, and obviously coordinated shots at Phantom Gourmet last week. We immediately added 500 Facebook Phans and dominated the TV ratings. They never learn….

Dominated the TV ratings? Opposite what competition?

Copeland’s blog also quotes several comments from rabid Phantom ‘Phans’ followed by another flame-fanning (or is it ‘phanning’?), lame, cheerleading comment from Dave:

Dave Andelman: Purple power, people. Thanks ya’ll.

Purple power? Really? Lemming power is more like it.

Fast-forward to the Phantom Gourmet radio program on Saturday, 2/12. The infamous Phantom Gourmet radio program is one of the most painful media programs I have ever endured. The inane, vapid banter between the 3 brothers is punctuated by Dan Andelman’s incessant, maniacle, hyena-like laughter that is torture to tolerate.

Saturday’s program started with a story about Mike and Eddie Andelman going to dinner before the Celtics-Lakers game. Eddie, the sportscaster patriarch of the family, was filling in for Dave who was on vacation. Michael  mentioned that they chose Grill 23 for dinner and arrived at 5:05.

When you ask Bostonians about the best steak houses in town, Grill 23 is often their number one choice. The food and service are consistently excellent.

The Grill 23 website states the following:


Monday-Thursday 5:30pm to 10:30pm

Bar opens daily at 4:30pm

For the record: There are 2 bars for customers to wait in before dinner service starts at 5:30. The first floor bar area has nineteen stools and the second floor bar has ten stools.

Mike and Eddie wanted to be seated in the dining room as soon as they arrived in order to get to the Celtics game on time at 8 o’clock. The hostess informed them that the bar was open, but the dining room didn’t open until 5:30. Apparently, there were no barstools open so Mike and Eddie suggested that they get a drink from the bar and sit at a table in the dining room and wait until 5:30 for dinner service. The hostess informed them that she couldn’t seat them until 5:30. That wasn’t good enough.

Here are some quotes from the radio program:

Mike Andelman: We walk in and the hostess who’s the typical hot woman, rude, cold- as-ice, never would talk to me in high school-type girl…So she goes, “Two?”, and I said yes, and she looks at us and says, “I’m sorry, we’re not open until 5:30, so there’s nothing I can do.”

Dan Andelman: And what time was this at?

Mike: 5:05.

Eddie Andelman: It was about 5:10.

Mike: She said the bar over there, you can stand at the bar and have a drink.

Eddie: There’s no seats.

Dan: At the bar?

Eddie: At the bar. It’s crowded.

Mike: There’s like 20 people standing at the bar. There’s no room at the bar.

Dan: Great bar there, potato chips and everything.

Mike: Great bar, but Eddie and I aren’t exactly going to saddle up to the bar and get hammered. We’re there for dinner. So she looks at us and says, “I can’t do anything for you,” and I said, Well can you just, and she turned her back on us and basically wouldn’t talk to us any more.

Dan: How did she look from the back?

Mike: And so Eddie and I said this is the most ridiculous, rude treatment we’ve ever gotten in a restaurant.

Eddie: Well I said to her, Is it all right if we sit down? There’s not one person. The tables are all set. Can we sit down there and have some drinks ‘till 5:30? And she said, “NO!”

Mike: Yeah, she says no, and so we basically, you know, under our breath say F-you, and we leave, and we walk across the street.

Dan: I don’t get it…, the restaurant was open, she just wouldn’t seat you?

Mike: No…, the dining room did not open until 5:30.

Eddie: They don’t serve until 5:30. We were willing to sit at a table and have some drinks until 5:30, even if we had to get some drinks from the bar and walk over to a table.

Dan: Yeah, but they weren’t open yet.

Michael: The restaurant was open. The bar was open. Every server was there. You think it was going to make a big deal if Eddie and I sat down…?

Dan: Michael, I’m being completely serious…They are not open until 5:30. What the hell…Why do you think you’re so special that you had to be seated?

Eddie: If there were seats at the bar we might have done it, but there’s tables 8 feet away from the bar that we could sit at.[The dining room tables are behind a half wall separating the bar from the dining room.]

Dan: Maybe the servers are all in their pre-meal meeting; maybe they’re eating; maybe they’re doing side work; maybe they’re cleaning, maybe they’re getting dressed…

Mike: Danny, the fact that you consistently take the side of the restaurateur or just a really stupid maître d’ or a hostess over your family time and time again, you just continually…(cut off).

Mike: The era is over of being able to treat customers like crap. It’s just over. I don’t understand.

Eddie: There’s 25 steakhouses in Boston.

Mike: And it’s not like this was 8pm on a Saturday night. It’s 5 o’clock, and guess what, if the owner of Grill 23 was standing next to this dumb hostess, this moronic hostess who was just getting her, uh, jollies off by sticking to the rules of her little brochure in a little binder, this little monkey, her only job is to look at this binder and say don’t let people in ‘till 5:30….

Dan: Although in her defense she was good-looking apparently. I’d like to see a picture. Was she wearing yoga pants? These are things I want to know. I have a thing for hostesses (laughing).

Mike: There’s not a hostess who’s not good-looking, because they’re incompetent and can’t do anything else in life. If you can’t model, when you’re good-looking enough and not tall enough to model, you stand behind a little box and say, How many?


(A few  irrelevant comments have been omitted between quotes, including Eddie’s comment about not wearing underwear. Ouch.)

Saturday, 2/19 update: Please disregard everything from here down to “A few questions.” The audio has been removed from the 96.9 website. The fact that it was ever available after the show is mind-boggling. I have retained a recorded copy if anyone would like to hear it.

For context, the entire conversation from the broadcast (that I recorded for translation) can be heard here:

(The relevant content is the first 8 and a half minutes.)

Be patient, the site loads slowly.

Click on play to the right of: 2/12/11 Eddie and Mike go to a Celtics game.

I encourage everyone who will be commenting on this post to listen to the segment before commenting.

A few questions:

Mike Andelman:

#1- How does a guy who makes his living around dining out and researching and discussing restaurants not understand why Grill 23 wouldn’t allow you to sit at a table before dinner service started?

Dan hit the nail on the head with his explanation. The dining room doesn’t open until 5:30. What if they let everyone who arrived early wander into the dining room and sit down? Once you make an exception or try to be flexible, people always want more. Before you know it, diners would start with, “Can we just look at a menu while we wait?”, “Is there any chance we could just get some bread?”, “Can we just get some water?” In other words, they’ll ask you to serve them before service starts.

And what happens when someone breaks a glass or spills their drink all over the table? More service is required when the service staff is busy learning the daily specials or working on a multitude of other tasks required to prepare the dining room for service.

Grill 23 has been in business since 1983. I’m sure they have experimented with their hours and policies over the years. On my list of 64 Suggestions for Restaurant Customers, number 23 reads, Respect the fact that restaurants have policies for specific reasons, despite the fact that they might not make sense to you.

Instead of thinking about that, you proceeded to leave the restaurant and then insult the hostess (and all hostesses), and trash the restaurant on your public radio program including the statement, “I will never spend another cent at Grill 23.” Your loss.

#2- How can the co-owner of Phantom Gourmet and VP of business development (you), rationalize the adjectives you used to describe the hostess at Grill 23? You referred to her as stupid, dumb, moronic and a monkey because you didn’t get your way.

#3- Did you ask to speak to a manager to explain their policy or to voice your concern about the rude service? No, but you didn’t hesitate to blast the restaurant on your radio show.

#4- How can you justify the sweeping generalization that you made about all hostesses when your business is all about promoting restaurants?

Referring to hostesses: “…they’re incompetent and can’t do anything else in life.” Really?

I’ll bet there are a few current and former hostesses who would take exception to that statement.

In a very entertaining and informative piece, one of Boston’s most knowledgeable food and drink writers, MC Slim JB, dubbed you (Mike) the “dumbest of the Dumb Brothers”. After listening to the first 10 minutes of Saturday’s program, you did nothing to prove MC wrong or to dispel that notion.

Current and Former Hostesses:

Please respond to Michael Andelman’s comments, and please forward this post to every current and former hostess you know.

Grill 23:

Please feel free to clarify your policies and weigh in on all of the issues presented.

Restaurateurs and Restaurant Employees:

If you own or work at a fine-dining restaurant similar to Grill 23, please comment on the issue and policies of opening times of the bar and dining room.

Dave Andelman:

What ‘shots’ were taken at Phantom Gourmet by blogs or ‘real media’ companies that were unfair or untrue?

Brothers Andelman:

Don’t feel obligated to respond. After all, this isn’t ‘real media’, it’s just a blog…


Please join the conversation. Despite the temptation, please keep the comments respectful and civil. As always, all comments will be moderated before they are posted.

Please click on the blue box below to share with your facebook network. Thank you.

Permalink | Posted in Customer Hall of Shame | 55 Comments »

Plane Protocol

Book Chapter: Human-to-Human Service

Posted: 02/13/2011

You know when Mitch Albom, the king of feel-good fairy tales, is irked by fellow humans, that the epidemics of incivility and entitlement are not myths.

Sharing public space with fellow human beings should not be as hard as some people make it. Unfortunately, common courtesy is often uncommon.

This piece by Mitch Albom appeared in today’s Parade Magazine:

Hello, this is your captain speaking.

Okay, I lied. I don’t sit in the cockpit. I sit where you sit. And I fly a lot (over 100,000 miles a year). So I would like to suggest ways the airlines could treat us better this year.

But why bother?

Any business that will soon be charging you and me to open the bathroom door isn’t keen on hearing from either of us. The airlines stopped listening about the time they began selling pillows.

So perhaps we could speak to one another as fellow travelers. Because even if the airlines torture us until we’d rather ride on the back of a filthy hay wagon, we don’t have to follow suit, do we?

We can all be flying buddies!

Here are a few gentle suggestions:

First, when you get on the plane, walk down the aisle with your carry-on luggage in front of you, not behind you. Behind you, you knock over drinks, bags, and small elderly people.

And when you finally sit down, think before you slam your seat back into the person behind you. Breaking kneecaps is for gangster movies.

Feet. As in bare feet. Don’t do it. Maybe at home you like to rip off your socks and plant your naked toes wherever you like, but not on a plane, okay? This isn’t a nail salon. I recently sat next to a woman who stuck her bare, sweaty feet on the cabin wall! Please. Unless you’re Spider-Man and about to walk upside down, keep the shoes on, all right? It’s smelly enough in the cabin.

Which brings us to food. Yes, I know you’re lucky to get a cornflake on an airplane today, but if you must bring food on board, consider the odor. Fried onions will not stop smelling at 23D.

Kids. Let’s talk about kids. Kids love airplanes. Many can’t believe they have a seat in front of them they can kick all flight long, while Mom and Dad watch the movie. Please. Tell them to stop.

And if you’ve got a crying baby—and we all love babies—at least pretend you’re trying to keep him quiet. Don’t hide behind an US Weekly.

Also, once your kids stop crying, the plane should not hear from them again until they are old enough to be—and actually are—the pilots. I recently had a little boy behind me who all flight long kept singing, at the top of his lungs, “Go-Go-Go…the cat in the hat!” I don’t know this song, or if it even is a song, but I do know his mom did nothing except occasionally whisper, -“Jacob, keep it down,” which had the same effect as pressing the Volume-Up button.

Speaking of volume, if you need to use your cellphone on the tarmac, please remember there are people inches away from you. They really don’t want to hear about Uncle Seymour’s kidney problem.

And if you fall asleep, try not to do so on the person next to you.

So there you go. With a little cooperation, we can all have a better year as passengers, even if the airlines think we’re cattle. Thank you for your attention. And now, as the captain says, sit back, relax, and strip to your underwear.

Security check.


I’d love to hear from passengers and airline/airport personnel.  What’s your story or your biggest pet peeve about sharing airports and airplanes with fellow humans?

After a few of your stories, I’ll share mine about the woman who tried to exit the plane early (one of my biggest pet peeves).

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Winter Sidewalk Experiment

Book Chapter: Human-to-Human Service

Posted: 02/1/2011

I could have also categorized this post under “Personal Pet Peeves”.

If you were walking down the middle of a sidewalk and encountered the scene in the photo below, (with a snow shoveler off to the side allowing you to walk by) where would you walk and why? A few caveats: there is no one behind you, and no one in front of you for 4 blocks.

This post is dedicated to Joe McSweeney, a neighbor I had the pleasure to meet and chat with while shoveling today.

Permalink | Posted in Human-to-Human Service | 20 Comments »