A US airport worker has been fired after it emerged they handed a passenger a note with the message ‘you ugly!!!’ scribbled on it.
Neal Strassner, of Rochester, had been passing through an airport screening area at New York’s Greater Rochester International Airport when the security worker handed him a brown paper note.
CCTV footage shows Neal looking puzzled as he walked away, while the worker laughed. He didn’t open the rude note until the worker called out to him, ‘You going to open the note?’
Speaking with WROC, Neal, who had been on his way to Wichita on a work trip, said:
I got handed a note, I didn’t really think too much of it. I just kept going. I had 10 minutes to get to my gate.
That’s what I was focused on and I kept going, the woman called back to me are you going to open that? Are you going to look or something like that?
When Neal eventually opened the note, he found it contained the words ‘you ugly’ with three exclamation marks. He reportedly felt more ‘confused’ than offended.
Although Neal hadn’t personally been hurt by the note, he was aware others could have found it upsetting, and decided to take action to make sure the cruel behaviour wasn’t repeated.
Neal told WROC:
I’m assuming it was meant to be a joke I don’t think she was maliciously trying to insult people, but you really don’t know if somebody was in that mindset, and they received that piece of paper. It would throw them back to a dark mental place.
You don’t know where somebody is in their head. They really could be in the worst spot ever and it’s like a smile would be great for that person, honestly you don’t have to throw insults like that.
Neal rang the airport to complain and was advised to discuss the matter with security upon his return journey later that week. However, when Neal met with an airport supervisor, he felt his story had not been believed.
As reported by NBC News, Neal was able to get hold of security footage of the incident through the Freedom of Information Act.
The worker who wrote the note had been employed by VMD Corporation, a Virginia based security company, AND contracted through the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
According to Neal, the company had promised they would be in touch in regards to the incident by August 13. After hearing hide nor hair from them, Neal uploaded the two-minute long security footage to Reddit.
As reported by NBC News, the company got in contact with Neal within mere hours of the footage going up online.
TSA officials have given the following statement to WROC:
TSA holds contractors to the highest ethical standards and has zero tolerance for this type of behaviour.
This instance, which involved a contract employee, was investigated immediately upon receiving the complaint by the traveller. The employee has since been terminated by the contractor.
In the footage, the since dismissed employee can be seen beginning to write the note. It isn’t known if other passengers were treated similarly.
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.