I realise I’m probably in the minority but I can’t dredge up any over-heated feelings about Alan Joyce the person, of the kind that arise in me unbidden about the likes of, say, Tony Abbott, Christopher Pyne, Alan Jones, Julia Gillard, Julie Bishop, et al. The man seems like such a merry little fellow with his guile-less schoolboy eyes wide behind glasses that look a little too small, and as if they were chosen for him by his mother.
Then there’s his enchanting Irish lilt in which he can announce events set to cause serious upheaval and deep offense to thousands and thousands of human beings who are just trying to live their lives, and make the offenses sound quite benign. No, the fellow does not provoke strong feelings in me, rather I’m bemused by the dissonance between Joyce’s immense power, and his inoffensive persona. If I was to accuse him of anything it would be a mild capacity for mischief. Just like the leprechaun who makes his mischief for the delight of watching what happens next. Of course, one can underestimate the intentions behind gleeful disruption. It is one of the many guises used by the devil to sow doubt and misery amongst humans.
I’ve had my fair share of minor disruption as a Qantas passenger. Last November returning from LA we didn’t have enough fuel to reach Brisbane and diverted to Noumea to top up. I found that interesting. They don’t know how much fuel they need to get from LA to Brisbane? Oh, it was the headwinds. OK. Then, finally on our way again after hours on the tarmac bitching and moaning we ran out of food, and most of us got no breakfast.
Then there was the time en route to Mexico when a couple of hours into the flight we ran out of water, forcing us to retain our intimate wastes if we possibly could as they had to be flushed away by bottles of water if we didn’t, an inefficient system to say the least. We didn’t get any breakfast then either, on the grounds that if they didn’t feed us we wouldn’t produce as many intimate wastes. I arrived in Mexico dehydrated, hungry and, well, I won’t spell it out for you.
At least I never got stranded in Los Angeles, which is probably the last place on earth anyone would choose to get stranded outside of Bangkok, where they have the coldest terminal in the world, furnished entirely with metal chairs that freeze your arse after five minutes and leave deep impressions in the flesh of your upper thighs. I once slept on the floor of that terminal waiting for a flight to somewhere that would eventually get me to Vientiane. It was unspeakably horrible but I can’t blame Qantas for that.
As things stand today the Iron Leprechaun has temporarily triumphed, both parties have been forced to suspend industrial action and enter into couple counseling. Many times have I sworn that I will never fly Qantas again. They have me in their power because of my frequent flyer points. But I plan to use them all up. I plan never to acquire anymore. I plan to switch my allegiances because enough is enough.
I loved Qantas, as much as one can love a commercial concept. The idea the Qantas brand successfully marketed for a long time was the idea of home. I will always remember once boarding a Qantas flight in Tokyo when the steward at the door said with a kind smile and a thrillingly familiar accent: “Welcome home, Dr Wilson.” Tired and emotional after many upheavals and weeks of unrelenting travel, I found my seat and had a little cry. Now I was safe. Now I was home.
This is what I mean about mischief. It might not look too bad on the surface of it but it can carry a terrible punch.
PS I am not talking about horses today. No horses. However, if you choose to make an imaginative link between the picture below and the individual mentioned in this post, knock yourself out.