The catch-22 of “I’m sorry” is that etiquette requires the apology, but people rarely believe the apologist. If you doubt that truism, let’s review the scorecard. Mel Gibson (sorry Jews), Michael Richards (sorry blacks), Isaiah Washington (sorry gays), and Hillary Clinton (sorry for not being sorry at all).
So how about David Neeleman? Following a series of snafus in which passengers were stranded for hours on the tarmac at JFK, the CEO of jetBlue has issued both a customer bill of rights and a three-minute long apology on YouTube.
It’s appropriate of course, if not downright expected, for the CEO of the first boob tube airline to perform a public mea culpa on the biggest boob tube Web site. After all, this is the year of you, and Captain Neeleman would like you — all 90,000 of you watching so far — to know he’s very, very sorry. Except he’s not.
The same public relations flack who got a promotion for suggesting a YouTube apology should also be fired for forgetting to ensure Neeleman actually apologizes. Because nowhere in that rambling, awkward speech does flyboy actually say “I’m sorry.” And while he gets points for not reading a prepared statement — corporate apology as fireside chat? — he loses just as many for forgetting the first person pronoun even exists.
To wit, this Frankenstein of a sentence: “Obviously the events of the past week that have been well-documented in the press are really something that I, uh, obviously this is the most difficult time in our history.”
Bravo! Your ability to avoid personal responsibility — and therefore any need to answer boardroom detractors or shareholder complaints directly — is almost Clintonian in its genius. Also, good job on starting a YouTube account only two days ago. That’s like buying your wife flowers and leaving the price tag on the vase.
Truth is, Dave, jetBlue customers expect an apology that fits the crime. So while yes, a 3-minute fauxpology is a good start, you need to make a better show of contrition. I’m thinking on a truly David Blaine scale here.
How ’bout a live 10-hour webcast from a sweltering plane that smells of poo?