Blue Jays pitcher Anthony Bass made headlines on Monday, but not for his play on the diamond. The 35-year-old reliever took to Twitter to call out United Airlines for what he thought was outrageous customer service from one of their flight attendants. In classic internet fashion, torches and pitchforks came out and everyone took a side without being given any context.
Bass posted a picture of his five and two-year-old daughters playing on tablets, with popcorn spread on the floor around their seats. The caption read, “The flight attendant @united just made my 22 week pregnant wife [Sydney Rae Bass] traveling with a 5 year old and 2 year old get on her hands and knees to pick up the popcorn mess by my youngest daughter. Are you kidding me?!?!”
One commenter asked, “Genuinely curious who should clean up the mess your 2 year old made? As a parent of three kids I am the one responsible for them.”
To which Anthony Bass replied, “The cleaning crew they hire!”
This exchange, as well as the tone of Bass’ posts, generated ire from supporters of both sides. Many took up arms over what they perceived as a rich, privileged man throwing a tantrum over his wife being asked to clean up the mess that his family made. The going trend was that if their children were being unruly and creating a mess, they as parents should be the ones to clean it up.
On the other hand, some commenters supported Anthony Bass, claiming that cleaning the airplane is a service that is included in the overall package when buying a ticket, and therefore the parents should not be held responsible for tidying up after their children. Just like at a movie theater or sporting event, one is not required to pick up garbage that may find its way onto the floor.
As is the case in virtually all internet exchanges, people on all sides got hostile in a flash. “Just because you’re rich doesn’t mean everyone is your servant,” one man quipped to Bass.
“I think it’s disgusting that the stewardess made a pregnant woman clean up a mess if they’re going to supply popcorn on the airplane be ready for messes to clean up if you don’t like it, don’t serve popcorn,” another woman added in defense of him.
The comments go on and on and on in this fashion. Some vehemently defend the passenger for sticking to his guns. Others take the side of the flight attendant who seemed too tough. However, in reality we’ll never know who was right.
First of all, who knows exactly what the job description of a United Airlines flight attendant is, and whether or not this actually is “their job.” Job postings on their website keep things rather generic, stating a need for, “Direct engagement with customers through outstanding interpersonal skills, good judgment and ability to resolve issues with understanding, compassion, and grace. Influence customer loyalty through excellent service.” Does that include picking up spilled popcorn from a child? Who knows.
More important than what does or does not technically constitute the responsibility of a flight attendant is the context of this specific scenario. We as social media observers were given one picture that doesn’t include any of the adults involved, and one man’s likely biased secondhand account of events. The lead up to this situation could have played out in dramatically different ways. Was Sydney Rae Bass allowing her children to run wild, causing mayhem throughout the plane and becoming obstinate when asked to rein them in? Was she perhaps sleeping and had no idea her children had spilled food, only to be awoken by a vengeful flight attendant looking to exact their pound of flesh? Is it possible that both individuals were being somewhat unreasonable in their refusal to collect the refuse, and things got more heated than need be?
On social media we never get the full story. Just like the influencer who takes on a mountain of debt to show off a Lamborghini, or the smiling married couple that haven’t stopped fighting since their wedding day, we’ll never know what’s going on behind the scenes. All we get is a curated image of what people want us to see. Unfortunately, we as human beings are far too prone to shoot from the hip and never ask any questions. Anthony Bass and United Airlines are just the latest example of a ubiquitous flaw in people, as thousands on the internet toss vitriol every which way over something they’ll never know the full story of.