It’s amazing the spin the media can put on everything. At this point, what do you believe? I used to always trust the big news outlets but now the only media I can think of that I trust is Marc Topkin, Tampa Bay Rays beat reporter.
So I’m reading Twitter after a busy morning/early afternoon of baking and cleaning and grooming Jayden. I read a tweet and click the link attached:
Safari opens the link and audio begins to play. The story is about a blind man who was taken off the plane because his guide dog wouldn’t stay beneath the seat. The passengers got upset and left with the man and then boarded a bus to reach their destination. A couple passengers were interviewed and the blind man as well. As the clip is wrapping up, the broadcasters begin applauding the passengers. Tears well in my eyes as my faith in humanity is restored and I retweet .
I walk into my kitchen to put my freshly boiled eggs in the fridge, grinning, hearing my tweet getting retweeted and favorited. I come back to my computer and have a mention from a friend saying the story is quite different from what she’s been seeing. Oh no. Don’t tell me the media got something wrong again and got my spirits up only to have them shot down.
I had already planned on blogging about this story, sharing my good feelings but explaining that Jayden and I sit in bulkhead so that I don’t have to cram him under a seat but after reading the other stories, my good feelings diminished a bit.
Basically the airline is saying the plane was stuck on the runway for a bit and the guide dog got restless and began “walking up and down the aisle”. I find that laughable. I honestly can’t imagine a blind person just letting his dog leave his side. The flight attendants say the man got belligerent when he was told to keep his dog under the seat. Maybe all that did happen, but would the passengers have stood up for the man if he had acted so badly?
The audio I listened to made it sound like all the passengers got off the flight in solidarity, however the other stories say the flight was cancelled because of the upheaval over the man and his dog. So who’s to say the passengers did stand up for him? Perhaps the ones interviewed had been in a far away part of the plane and not seen the man behaving badly.
I don’t know what to believe about this story and that makes me sad, because it had given me such warm feelings. So media, oh never mind. You’ll never change. You all want to be first so fact checking has gone out the window.
I can still write that Jayden and I fly in bulkhead where there’s more room at my feet. I can’t imagine Jayden fitting under the seat. If fore some reason, this had been me and Jayden would not calm down and settle, I would have calmly tried to work with the airline to come up with a solution. When Jay and I were getting ready to fly to Colorado in May, I was nervous that the only direct flight I could get was through United, and I’ve read so many stories about United and service dogs. I was talking with Carol about it and she pointed out that most likely every single airline has had some sort of incident with a service dog and we never get the whole story. I’m sure some of them are true but I also think that a lot of these kinds of situations can be avoided if we are able to be our own advocate and our dog’s advocate. We also need to know our rights and business’ rights. No, our dogs cannot just walk away from us. My flights went off without a hitch but I’m a planner to the nth degree. Also, when I’m out with Jayden whether I’m sitting on paratransit, in a lobby or on an airplane, his leash is always attached to me. I never let it go. I just hope stories like the one above don’t keep disabled people from flying with their service animals. It’s too bad the twenty-four hour news cycle makes these things seem more common than not.
On a happier note:
This morning I opened this link about designing cities with the blind in mind. I was expecting an article but audio began to play so I sat back to listen. Chris Downey is an architect who went blind right around the time I did. He sure got out of denial faster than I did haha! Anyway, his talk was interesting and funny and I knew it would be my random happy for today.