Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

Friday, December 18, 2015

Busan Verses the ‘Land Where Profit Trump$ All’

Disclaimer:  At this point in my very long trip home I am feeling rather grumpy…..

I missed my 7:00am plane to Boston this morning from New York’s JFK airport.  I arrived at JFK about 10:00pm last night (after a 13-hour flight from Shanghai) and was happy that the shuttle bus to my airport hotel only took 5 minutes.  I asked for a 5:00am wake up call so I could take the 5:55am shuttle back to the airport.

The five minute shuttle ride to the airport this morning took more than 30 minutes (including two missed turns by the driver) and I hustled thru check-in and security but was dismayed that I next had to take a slow-moving shuttle bus to another terminal to get on my plane.  I made it to the gate at 6:55am and saw the plane backing away from the terminal five minutes early.  (Delta must be trying to hit the top mark for ‘on time departures’ these days.) The staff at the gate was not at all sympathetic with my close call and handed me a ticket for a later Boston flight and told me I had to take another shuttle bus back to a different terminal.  By then I was trying like hell just to breathe and lower my jumping heart rate. 

When a group of us from Veterans For Peace left Jeju Island on December 9 we had to fly to Busan, South Korea to catch a flight to Fukuoka, Japan and then grab another plane to our final destination in Okinawa.  The transfer in Busan was going to be tight and when our flight into that airport was late we were biting our nails.  To make matters worse we had to pick up our bags in baggage claim, re-check in, switch from domestic to international, pass through immigration and still make the gate as the clock wound down on us.  Our prospects didn’t look promising.

But the most amazing thing happened – once we checked into the Asiana Airlines ticket counter in Busan their staff (two of them) ran with us to the next terminal, quickly guided us through security, and then ran interference to get us to the gate just five minutes before the Fukuoka flight left.  The Busan staff made us feel like valued customers unlike my experience today at the JFK Delta gate when the agent scornfully told me “You are late” when I pleaded I’d arrived with five minutes to spare!

Since I then had plenty of time on my hands, after missing the flight, I decided that I wanted a sit down breakfast with some eggs and a cup of tea before my rescheduled plane to Boston.  The only available restaurant has those new-fangled computer menu/ordering rigs on each table that I’ve come to hate (largely because they are intended to put workers out of a job).  After more than a twenty minute wait for my simple ‘over medium eggs’ I had to ask three times for some pepper (on my 2nd request I was handed two salt shakers) and when I humbly requested a fork (imagine that) I was instructed to take one from an adjoining table.

Back here in the ‘land of the free’ the corporate entities are very happy to take our cash or our plastic.  But service is far down the list of priorities for these money-grubbing corporations that control our lives these days. 

The unusual experience in Busan reminded me that the entire planet is not yet totally infected with the ‘profit first and service last’ cancer. 

I might have made it back to the USA (that likes to vainly brag it is the greatest country on the face of the earth) but I am not one who easily falls prey to the notion that capitalism here has a human face.  The face I usually see in the USA is one of greed and disrespect for the paying public – unless of course you happen to be in the 1% - which I gladly am not. 


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