Donny Douglas vs. West Jet

Over the past thirteen years, West Jet has become a symbol of both Western pride and the little business that could.  Its growth has been exponential; they now offer service to several US destinations including Disneyland and Hawaii.

One of the cornerstones of West Jets success is the unwavering goofiness of their flight attendants.   I personally know several people who, before their flight, wait with baited breath for the stream of jokes their hosts will graft into the pre-flight safety spiel. It is a friendly company that makes you feel strangely at home 10, 000 feet in the air.

The Christmas season provides West Jet with an excellent opportunity for good times.  Last year, at a staff meeting held in Calgary’s Saddledome (an indication of how good business is for the small business), it was announced that for the holiday season of 2008, all flight attendants and pilots would be required to wear Santa hats.  The reaction to this announcement was nothing short of celebratory.

Female flight attendants, for the most part, were overjoyed, as many of their boyfriends had a underlying, yet powerful, Mrs. Claus fetish, which would surely surface with the latest addition to the uniform.  Most of the pilots were also excited to exchange their caps for red and white santa caps, as it would offer a refreshing change to their look: for one month out of the year, pilots might be seen as the zany, fun loving people they really are.

Donny stood (or sat, rather) in stark contrast to the buzz of excitement, which swept through the stands like an invisible wave.  He was a veteran.  In fact, he was a member of the first batch of flight attendants hired at West Jet.  He had withstood all of the doubt surrounding the creation of the small western airline.  When people told him he would be better off working at a more established airline such as Air Canada or Delta, Donny stood his ground, saying he had a good feeling about this one.  He was right, of course.   His stock in the company had increased significantly over the past thirteen years.

Donny’s customer service skills had also greatly appreciated.  He was a hit on every flight he attended.  Sometimes his jokes made people shriek with laughter, and he always gave out an extra can of Coca Cola, if it made a tough customer smile.  He worked tremendously hard, and his work was appreciated.  On the mantel of his Tuscany home, there were several pictures of him with Clive Beddoe, arms draped around each other like a couple of teenage lovers.  Life was good for Donny.

But with the announcement of the new addition to uniform, Donny felt completely betrayed.  He sat in shock for several minutes, staring down at the Santa hat with noticeable disgust.  He felt nauseous: his mouth watered torrentially.  He put up his hand and asked if everyone had to wear the hats.  Beddow hesitated before saying yes, the hats were mandatory for all staff for the entire month of December.

Donny didn’t cry until he got home.  Then, he threw the hat on the linoleum and stomped on it several times before collapsing in a puddle of tears and mucous.  He wondered if he should quit and then wondered if he was blowing all of this out of proportion.  He was lucky to have such a great job with this equal opportunity employer, after all.  Did I mention that Donny is a dwarf?

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