Thursday, July 9, 2009

United Breaks Guitars

This is hilarious. Well done, Mr. Carroll.

One of my tasks as an airline cargo agent was processing claims for damage or loss. One of my great frustrations was following up on those claims with First Air's Claims Department, which might as well have been called the Claims Rejection Department. Granted a lot of damage is the fault of the passenger for poorly packaging their stuff or for using already damaged luggage. But the claims departments of airlines treat all claimants as scammers, which seems like bad business practice to me.

In my experience, baggage handlers rarely go out of their way to intentionally damage luggage or cargo, but when you handle thousands of pieces each day, it's unrealistic to expect special treatment for one piece or another. We used to joke about things covered in "Fragile" stickers. Fra-jee-lay, what is that, some kind of salad dressing? But in order to actually break a guitar in a proper case--I have to wonder if this was a foam-padded travelling case; if not, the airline might have a point--you'd practically have to drive over it to damage the contents.

Here's a poem from Unsettled, from the baggage handler's perspective:


Lord liftin’, the godawful

junk folk hauls in

‘n’ outta this spot. Frozen

half rottened walrus. Boxed-up

scrap from the dump. Laundry

soap. Kibble. Rubbermaids

tie-wrapped shut, empty

southbound, stogged full o’

canned stuff comin north—

bust yer back just to

deadlift ‘em. ‘n’ the liquor,

of course—you’d think

the stunned cunts’d know

to not put bottles in soft-

sided baggage—get buzzed

off the whisky whiff

in the pits. Duffles loaded

with stone—small wonder

the handles tear off

in your grip—but sure’s shit

the cocksuckers’ll curse ya

fer each little rip

in their threadbare kit.

Steady go with them

white plastic sacks

from the Northern—2000

buck ticket, sure, but can’t

spare a red cent for a stitch

o’ halfway sensible luggage.

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