On ageism and professional comments — Hafidz Baharom

MARCH 31 — The recent comments by Datuk Nurulhidayah Ahmad Zahid on how Malaysia Airlines Bhd’s (MAB) cabin crew brought to mind an incident between Clare Booth, 35, and Dorothy Parker, then an elderly socialite.

See, Booth and Parker apparently went to a social event in which both of them tried to exit through the same door. Being somewhat of an ageist, Booth stepped aside and held the door open for Parker, saying “age before beauty”.

Nonchalantly, Parker graciously exited before giving a stinging retort.

Pearls before swine.

On Wednesday, Nurulhidayah decided it was fair game to criticise MAS on Instagram, and this was highlighted on a news portal. In her post on the social media, she commented on chewing gum on the seats. Well, this was acceptable because that is rather disgusting.

In fact, I’m sure MAB could look into their cleanup crew’s performance to ensure the upholstery on their seats are properly cared for.

But here’s the thing; what did the age of the cabin crew have to do with anything?

Apparently Nurulhidayah, who is supposedly the Head of Corporate Communications for a national affordable housing company Syarikat Perumahan Negara Bhd, decided that it was fair game to bring ageism as an issue with cabin crews.

Now if I may ask — with most of us here being Asians and all — when did we begin to have such an insolent and arrogant generation of yuppies?

Calling in someone’s age no longer makes it a professional critique in a workplace as she said in defending herself.

And yes, such insolence and arrogance does bring into question how Nurulhidayah was raised, especially considering that her father is our deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
In fact, I have always thought the reason we were served by “experienced” cabin crews for long haul flights was because they were veterans.

This is the fact I’ve experienced flying Qatar Airways, British Airways, KLM and even Japanese Airlines.

At the same time, I would ask everyone to consider the scenarios you are putting these flight attendants in.
A crude job description they are tasked with for long haul flights is to take care of sometimes more than 200 strangers in a cramped space over the span of more than ten hours in the most professional manner you can give.
Perhaps Nurulhidayah would like to take a challenge and try being a flight attendant for a week — being cramped with a flight attendant to passenger ratio of larger than 1:15 including chain smokers like myself who have no access to nicotine, random drunkards who insist on having liquor constantly and even the ones who ask for water every half an hour — all this in a span of 14 to 18 hours with nowhere to run.

Also, no vaping.

And upon landing, still be able to freeze a smile on your face, not a hair out of place and wish everyone well.  

And while women are not my thing, I will always be amazed that MAS flight attendants can be “old” and still look good in a kebaya.

Flight attendants truly go to hell and back on each and every flight because they have to treat total strangers professionally. While there are passengers who are mollified by being waited on by such a way, there are those who believe they maybe deserved to be pampered even more.

There are a lot of things that can be suggested to better MAB, from Chef Wan’s comment on the “naked nasi lemak” which falls on the inflight caterers and the recent incident which cause their London flight to divert to Manchester.

Nurulhidayah could’ve been professional and left it at how the plane needed proper cleaning.

Instead, all she proved was that parents and status don’t breed class.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.

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