The Angst On Airplanes Matches What’s On The Ground

Jonathan Gurwitz (from left), Dr. Masarat Ali, Jack Riccardi, Roman Garcia

It’s not just United Airlines. Heck, it’s not even just airlines.

Item A. “American Airlines Apologizes, Puts Flight Attendant On Leave”

First, the “we don’t know all the facts yet” caveat. But, dude, still. This goes beyond “customer relations”. It’s like we just don’t know how to do “human relations” anymore.

Item B. On Saturday night, when I saw reports of actress Erin (“Happy Days”) Moran’s death, I posted it on Facebook. You won’t believe this, or maybe you will. The first conversation string it generated was people asking “Why couldn’t it have been Chachi instead of Joanie?” (Joanie being the young girl character Moran played on “Happy Days”)

Were people trying for dark humor? Or is it because the sitcom character Chachi was played by Scott Baio, now that rarest of birds, a Hollywood Trump supporter? I confronted one poster, a man I know personally to be a good, decent man and father. He sheepishly admitted he can’t get over Baio’s politics.

“So, he should die young?” I asked.

“No, no, of course not…I’ll delete my comment.”

He didn’t have to. I deleted the post and string.

Item C. Also on Saturday, I learned of the sudden death of a dear friend, Dr. Massarat Ali, who you’ve heard on “Gang of 4” many times over the years. (He’s second from the left in the photo) Dr. Ali was a liberal Democrat (he ran a quixotic campaign against State Rep. Lyle Larson in 2010), ¬†and he and I disagreed about most things in the news. But he was always gracious and generous. He would bring little gifts back from his world travels for my young daughter, or foreign currency to show me. On his last visit to G4, days ago, he brought a large tray of sweets imported from India, and insisted that everyone on our staff try them.

It was a very Dr. Ali thing to do.

In the warm, two-handed handshake that he always—always—extended to me both coming and going from the radio station, I saw the best of human interaction.

Could we have more of it?



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