Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Good News Department

This just came over the Efrat List. It might be an urban legend.

Dealing with Anti-Semitism

On a NorthWest Airways flight from Atlanta, GA., a middle-aged,well to do woman found herself sitting next to a man wearing a kipa (aka "yarmulka" in Yiddish). She called the attendant over to complain about her seating."What seemsto be the problem Madam?" asked the attendant. "You've sat me next to a Jew!! I can't possibly sit next to this disgusting person. Find me another seat!"

"Please calm down Madam." the attendant replied. "The flight is very full today, but I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll go and check to see if we have any seats available in club or first class." The woman shoots a snooty look at the snubbed Jewish man beside her (not to mention many of the surrounding passengers).A few minutes later the attendant returns. The woman cannot help but look at the people around her with a smug and self satisfied grin. The flight attendant then says..."Madam, unfortunately, as I suspected, economy is full. I've spoken to the cabin services director, and club is also full. However, we do have one seat in first class."

Before the lady has a chance to respond, the attendant continues..."It is most extraordinary to make this kind of upgrade, however, and I have had to get special permission from the captain. But, given the circumstances, the captain felt that it was outrageous that someoneshould be forced to sit next to such a person." With which, she turned to the Jewish man sitting next to her, and said: "So if you'd like to get your things, sir, I have your seat in first class ready for you..."At this point, the surrounding passengers stood and gave a standingovation, while the Jewish man walks up to the front of the plane.

"All that it takes for evil to triumph, is for good people to do nothing."


Dov said...

Good chuckle. It is indeed an urban legend. See http://www.snopes.com/travel/airline/obnoxious.asp at snopes.com, an excellent resource for researching urban legends. Excerpt:
Origins: That all of the preceeding tales are likely apocryphal doesn't lessen our enjoyment of them. It's a rare traveller indeed who hasn't good-naturedly faced a long delay at check-in only to see some jerk try to jump to the head of the line, and it's an even rarer individual who hasn't been seated on a flight next to someone he'd like to see sucked out the

At different times the stories are circulated anew with their details altered. For instance, the story we recorded in 1998 about the racist woman on the British Airways flights out of Johannesburg came back for another round in 2004, this time purporting to be about a white woman on a flight between Saskatoon and Calgary. In 2005 it was told of a well-to-do woman seated next to a yarmulka-wearing Jew on a flight out of Atlanta.

Richard Landes said...

as an urban legend, what this tale attempts to do is to reverse the final coda of your post: "all it takes for good to triumph is for good people to stand up for what's right and get the support of bystanders." it operates as the medieval exempla do: to give a model for behavior. what we need to look for is a real case inspired by the urban legend.