Friday, July 10, 2009

United Breaks Guitars

When I lived in Toronto, I worked for two airlines: Air Canada and Air Transat. I did the same job for both airlines. Most of the work consisted of getting luggage onto and off of aeroplanes. As a pilot wannabe, working there was awesome.

There was a huge difference working for the two airlines. At Air Transat, Fragile stickers meant nothing. Soon after I started working there, someone asked me why I wasn't throwing a guitar case like I did for the rest of the baggage.

Me: It's a guitar. It's easily damaged.

Him: Is that your guitar?

Me: No.

Him: Then why do you care?

I heard that line many times about many fragile items. One day, someone was bringing crates of olive oil back from overseas. Each crate had a Fragile sticker on it. The guys were just put them on the belt-loader like other baggage: with no care as to the fragile state of it's contents. The crates started falling over, breaking open and spilling olive oil all over the place.

Passengers in the terminal saw this and started taking pictures and making gestures to us. A few of the guys made some other more obscene gestures to the passengers.

I've seen the people riffle through passengers bags, helping themselves to whatever they wanted. I saw blatant damaging of office equipment.

Always lock your luggage.

Air Transat was like a company run by Jr. Highers on their way to Juvie.

Actually, I should clarify. I didn't actually work for Air Transat. I worked for a company called Haycott Services that was partially owned by Air Transat. Haycott was contracted to work on the ramp, and do cabin service for Air Transat. I always say I worked for Air Transat because nobody knows what Haycott Services is.

Haycott Services was like a company run by Jr. Highers on their way to Juvie.

When I started at Air Canada, I would hear things like "Woah! Be careful with that! It's Fragile!" Air Canada was a dream. It was one of the best jobs I've ever had. Air Canada was a company run by grown-ups.

One of my favourite bands, Sons of Maxwell, had an incident with United Airlines. One of the singers/songwriters, Dave Carroll, saw the ramp guys throwing guitar cases around as they were offloading the aeroplanes. When he got his guitar back, it was broken. United Airlines wouldn't acknowledge any wrong-doing or responsibility, and wouldn't pay for any damages.

So, Dave Carroll wrote three songs, and made a video out of one and put it on YouTube, seen here:

Way to go, Dave! It's really sad. It also doesn't help the rest of us when we get screwed over by a large organization. Most of us can't write and perform great songs with videos to stick it to the man. In a way, Dave, you're doing this for all of us. Everyone who's ever been jerked around by an airlines is behind you.

There should be two more videos coming. The idea is to get people to vote for their favourite. He wants to get one million hits in one year. This video came out 4 days ago. As of writing this, it's already up to 1 351 943 views.

Apparently, Dave is in talks with United to right the wrongs. I'd imagine part of that settlement will include Dave discontinuing his United-bashing. That would be somewhat unfortunate because he's a great songwriter. I love how this song doesn't cloud the message with metaphor. "United Breaks Guitars". Pretty simple, basic, and obvious. No hidden messages there. An English teacher's nightmare.

Of course, he'll probably only be offered the $3500 from United. But these videos will put him and Sons of Maxwell on the map, so to speak. He's going to get a real jump in fame due to these videos.

When I went to see Sons of Maxwell in concert, it was pretty small and intimate. At the end of the concert Dave announced he'd be at the CD table. So I went over and talked with him for about five minutes. How cool is that! When was the last time you went to a concert and got to talk to the musicians afterwords?

If Sons of Maxwell significantly increase their fame from this incident, then the next time I see them in concert, they might be too big to be able to talk to them. :( There'll be too many people.

Just kidding. I'd rather see them get the fame they deserve. I wish them (Dave Carroll and Sons of Maxwell) all the best.

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