On Labor Day, we celebrate those who perform arduous jobs when they wish they could be, well, celebrating Labor Day.
I wonder, therefore, how the cabin crew of a recent Air India flight from London to Mumbai might have kept their good humor when a passenger called them over and said she'd just been insulted by a machine.
She claimed that she'd switched on the in-flight entertainment system and two messages greeted her. The first was: "This selection is not currently available. Please try again later."
Normal enough, you might imagine. However, beneath it were the alleged words: "Lie low...Sit down you idiot!"
There is no evidence that the woman had been difficult in any way. There is no evidence that she cursed the system in several languages. Indeed, the Times of India reported that the plane's commander arrived to offer his apologies.
The woman took a picture of the screen, perhaps for posterity. And the original word from the airline was that it wasn't some upstart miscreant engineer who thought this a jape.
Instead, the airline told the Times of India: "Our investigation indicates that it was the English subtitle of a Hindi movie that the lady passenger was watching, which froze on the screen when the server went offline. The matter has been taken up with the concerned authorities for rectification."
More Technically Incorrect
There was a touch of turbulence with this explanation. The woman claimed that the typeface on the offensive message was identical to the one above it.
Now, as ABC News reports, Air India appears to be investigating further.
I know that many will be concerned that they, too, might be subject to offensive in-flight messages. Bored and self-regarding engineers might be using their time to concoct supposedly amusing surprises for passengers.
I, on the other hand, see hope.
There are two great trends in the world today: sharing and personalization. How beautiful it would be if we could turn on our in-flight systems and see messages that are meant purely for us.
"Chris, you look awful today. What the hell did you do last night, you idiot?"
Or perhaps: "Chris, she was a good-for-nothing, mendacious fake of an office librarian. Get over it. By the way, have you seen the linguistics professor in 22A?"
Now that would be in-flight entertainment.