Every blood feud has two sides...
Yesterday, BeachGrit‘s own Derek Rielly broke the story of the moment (read here). John John Florence, our young prince, heir apparent to Kelly Slater’s throne, got mad at JetBlue Airline for breaking his board and posted about it on his Instagram account.
Not only did this bit of journalism further our goal of winning surfing’s first Pulitzer prize, it was also very funny. Professional surfers hither and yon jumped into the fray, decrying JetBlue’s heartless corporateism. “Maybe airlines will never care about surfers or our boards…” wrote CJ Hobgood. “#instagramisthenewyelp” added Peter King.
JetBlue’s own Instagram account was overrun with surfers telling them to “Go back to the valley…” and “What a bunch of Barns…” and “Beat it, kooks…”
With such salty, surfy talk I wondered if JetBlue actually understood they were being criticized? Also, I don’t like many airlines but I have never had any problems on JetBlue. Their DirectTV almost always works and the snack selection/Tito’s vodka is nice. And so I decided to call and get their story. Every blood feud, of course, has two sides.
Ironically, the song that greeted me, as soon I was put on hold, was Jack Johnson’s radiate. “We turn so slow I know it’s hard to wait. Take your time, sun is yours to take I’m gonna watch you raaaadiate….” he crooned. And in case you have been hiding under a rock, Jack Johnson also penned and performed the View from a Blue Moon original tune (read here).
I was very quickly, and surprisingly passed up the chain until reaching Morgan, a seemingly nice man. I asked, “Are you aware of the brouhaha surrounding a kind of famous surfer lashing out on Instagram?”
Note: I say kind of famous because, let us be quite honest, no surfer is actually famous. Not even Kelly.
Morgan responded with a friendly sigh, “Yeah we are aware of it…”
“Do you understand all the surfspeak getting thrown your way?” I wondered. “It’s all so slangy!”
Morgan chuckled a little. “I don’t surf myself but we have a lot of surfers who work here and they translate it for me.”
“Well…” I continued “…what is JetBlue’s position on the matter?”
Morgan, refreshingly, did not slip into corpo parlance and said simply, “As far as I understand, the baggage folk tried to work with him. He had four boards packed into one board bag and we have very specific rules of one board per bag…”
Aha! That cheap little bastard John John tried to game the system! Any surfer knows that flying one board per bag is a virtual impossibility except John John ain’t any surfer! He could hire four little men to walk behind him, anywhere he goes, each toting a crisp Pyzel in a crisp new bag. What if they were all five feet tall and from India? What if he dressed them each the same? I’m thinking maybe an Egyptian cotton Tom Ford tunic paired with linen harem pants and red Louis Vuitton driving moccasins. What if he had each of them wear a delicate red fez? Of course, the fez is Turkish, in origin, but if I have learned one thing it is who cares! Orientalism is a state of mind!
And here is the real problem. Surfers are notoriously cheap and professional surfers more so. A lifetime of free swim shorts and fins and boards makes them stingier than stingy. John John could have had a retinue of manservants for a relatively small fee and his life would be a pageant. Instead he tries to save a few pennies and ended up with a hurt board/feelings.
I told Morgan, “Don’t ever let surfers fly JetBlue. They are all cheap bastards.”
He, kindly, didn’t agree with me.