News item: Cathay Pacific flight attendant leaves job after posting on Facebook she wanted to throw coffee on a passenger who is the youngest daughter of Thailand’s ousted prime minister. The airline alleges misconduct.
Maybe it will unfold like this: In a sea of sisterly love, the flight attendant and the daughter, Paetongtarn Shinawatra, will join hands while scissoring into Kowloon’s Peninsula Hotel to enjoy afternoon tea. Later, the flight attendant will say she was joking about her desire to throw hot coffee over her new best friend while flying into HKG. The flight attendant will be promoted to purser.
And swine can fly.
There’s an old Cantonese saying: You must stand on a hillside with your mouth open for a very long time before a roast duck flies in.
I have a loose connection to this story. So let me say right out that I’m partial to the flight attendant and her interest in the larger world. But first, a little more background to the news story.
The feckless and former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is now living in exile to avoid a jail term for corruption. He was ousted by a military coup in 2006.
The Cathay flight attendant is a morally enlightened Thai national whose do-or-die politics appear to lean heavily against the ousted prime minister. But she demonstrated exquisite Thai courtesy to the bitter end, asking a supervisor if she could pour coffee on her “enemy.” Her Facebook post (using the name Honey Lochanachai and no longer public) outlined everything. “I never expected that [Paetongtarn] was on board today,” she wrote. “I immediately told my flight manager I could not work knowing the daughter of my enemy was on the plane. I called my personal adviser asking if it would be all right to throw coffee at Paetongtarn, but was told that this could breach Hong Kong’s laws.”
The incident on the Cathay flight took place a day after the failure of an anti-government rally in Bangkok on November 24. Some believe that Paetongarn is acting as an organizer against the current government.
Oh, so here’s my connection. Years ago, when I regularly flew from my hometown Vancouver to Hong Kong, I met Catherine Poon, a Cathay Pacific flight attendant, when she accidently spilled coffee on me. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship that went on for about two years. We’d meet up two or three times a month, whenever she had a layover in YVR. She drank only tea and except for that one time, I never saw her spill coffee.