Taiwanese flight attendant traumatized after being forced to clean obese guy's ass - scream the headlines and sending the social media world squirming in disgust.
In the detailed post by Facebook user Jeff Lin, and also published in The Straits Times article, here's the low-down on the story:
Incident occurred on 19 January onboard a EVA Air flight from Los Angeles to Taipei (LAX-TPE).
Passenger in wheelchair (seated in Economy Class) requested assistance to use Business Class lavatory due to his size, injury and disability.
He also requested assistance from the flight attendants to:
pull down his underwear (due to his condition) - with much resistance, this was acceded to, and
to leave the toilet door open (he gets claustrophobic) while defecating. This was turned down.
He then requested the flight attendant to wipe his backside for him. In view of the passenger's safety, the chief flight attendant did the nasty job, with the passenger in question urging her on, by moaning "deeper, deeper, deeper".
While the digital world squealed and squirmed in disgust, I can't help but ponder if the online outrage is truly in empathy for the traumatized flight attendant in having to go through this ordeal or that mere ick thought of having to wipe a fat guy's ass (pardon my political incorrectness).
Sadly to say, it seems like the world is captivated by the latter instead, especially with the media emphasis that "it was an all-female crew flight" and "there was no male crew to help".
As a male and I presume, also a human of a similar emotional capacity, I have to speak out: Do you really expect another person, of a different gender or otherwise, to react differently?
Should EVA Air consider hiring male flight attendants with an added "rear polishing people of size" task to their job descriptions?
Then how about the careers (careers, not jobs I emphasize) of nurses and caregivers, both males and females, who have to do this on a daily basis, not because they are holding a degrading position but rather, they are in the forefront of uplifting the dignity of others who are unable to do so on their own.
The brouhaha in this media frenzy reveals the hypocrisy of it all: we don't want to do it ourselves but it's OK when someone else does it.
As an ex-cabin crew, I have had my fair share of stories of having been (not always nicely) asked to do things for others; from having to do a post-flight Olympic sprint through the airport terminal to chase a passenger to return belongings he left on the flight; to having been ordered by an upset lady passenger to crawl on the floor together with another flight stewardess to search for a missing SIM card she claimed to have dropped (it was never found); to using (wasting) clean blankets to present-wrap up luxury handbags that snobbish passengers would otherwise not want up the overhead compartment.
Not to mention, endless times when passengers expect you to put up their severely overweight cabin luggage on the overhead compartment for them when they are most capable of doing so, having dragged the same luggage all the way from home into the aircraft.
I also heard this horrifying cabin crew story from a colleague who was previously from another airline with a strong hierarchical culture:
There was this high-status passenger and frequent traveller on this route - and he always chooses this particular seat when flying.
However, on this particular flight that my colleague was operating on, the passenger's favourite seat was faulty and unable to recline, and in a rage, he requested that all the cabin crew on the flight kneel down in front of him to apologize.
The foreign-based cabin crew onboard refused to do it, as did the local cabin crew. But because of his premium status as a loyal airline customer, the chief purser acceded to his request and kneeled down in front of him to offer her apology.
The passenger took opportunity to yell at her degrading vulgarities before releasing her back to the galley.
As flight attendants, we hold a strong responsibility for the passengers' safety, and comfort. In the course of our jobs, there will be passengers, and even other flight attendants, who try to take advantage of this people-oriented mindset we have.
To these people:
If there's one thing I learnt as a cabin crew, it would be: do something only if you want to.
No one/job/situation should be forcing you to do something you don't want to; and especially not yourself.
Consider this when you are faced in a situation (any situation) that you don't want to do something: just don't.
Just recollecting some of my personal experiences,
Once, on a severely delayed flight, the senior cabin crew asked me (as the most junior crew) to go out into the cabin to handle the angry passengers (while the rest of my colleagues hid in the rear galley), I held my breath and bravely did so, and only because I wanted to and I am proud to have made a positive difference to the passengers.
A few occasions, passengers would hand me a bag of soiled baby diapers or used vomit bags after a bout of airsickness. I know of colleagues who would refuse to accept outright, asking the passenger to dispose in the lavatory instead. For me, I would assist, then give my hand a good tender loving scrub. I only did because I truly wanted to help, in my capacity as a flight attendant.
Having said this, if you don't want to do it, don't. You are your best judge and best advocate.
Sometimes, you just have to put on your DNB shoes:
Hear Rebel Wilson say the words:
And repeat it yourself.. And there is nothing wrong with being a Do Nothing Bitch.
As the morale of this ass-wiping incident and my anecdotes go, when no one should have to do something they do not want to, this doesn't mean that someone should be expected to take on this role. So please, stand up for your colleagues and friends...
If you don't want to go through the ordeal of wiping someone's ass, remember: neither does someone else.