US airline Southwest Air is at the centre of customer service controversy after it was revealed that one of their representatives made fun of a five-year-old’s unusual name.
The mother and child were boarding a plane in Orange County’s John Wayne Airport when things went pear-shaped. Her daughter’s name – Abcde – had attracted some unwanted attention.
“The gate agent started mocking my child’s name,” Traci Redford said in a video posted to Twitter.
“Laughing. Pointing at me and my daughter and talking to other employees, so I turned around and said ‘Hey. I can hear you. So if I can hear you my daughter can hear you and I’d appreciate it if you just stopped.”
The gate agent apparently even photographed Abcde’s (pronounced “AB-city”) boarding pass and shared it on social media.
“While I was sitting there, she took a picture of my boarding pass and chose to post it on social media, mocking my daughter. It was actually brought to my attention by somebody who had seen it on Facebook and reported it to Southwest Airlines. And after two weeks of doing a formal complaint, Southwest hadn’t done anything,” Traci told the ABC7 media outlet.
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Southwest is sorry
The airline has since apologised for the behaviour of their staff member, asserting that it’s “not indicative of the care, respect, and civility we expect from all of our employees” and that it’s been followed up with the person in question.
Traci says she’s done her best to turn the mocking episode into a teachable moment.
When Abcde asked, “Mom, why is she laughing at my name?” Traci told her daughter “not everyone is nice and not everyone is going to be nice and it’s unfortunate.”
— Veronica Miracle (@ABC7Veronica) November 28, 2018
People on Twitter thought this was a bit of a storm in a teacup, and commented in that vein.
“Looks like mommy is getting EXACTLY the publicity she was aiming for when she filled out that birth certificate!” one wrote.
“I hope that child changes her name when she turns 18. No one will take her seriously in life,” another asserted.
“My wife is an educator and had a student with the same name. There was another student attending a different school my wife taught, named La-a (pronounced ‘la-DASH-uh’ – ‘the dash ain’t silent’ as the parent said),” a man commented.
“Let’s all be honest this child has had her named laughed at since she was born,” someone else posted. “All the mother’s friends laugh at it. This is just the first time she faced someone who wouldn’t laugh behind her back.”
“Is her mother Ella Menope?” another wondered.