Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

Americans do violence much better than sex.

They talk about the latter a lot. Somehow, though, there's a certain puritanical streak that still invades.

I was, therefore, entirely unsurprised when outrage followed anger followed tweets after Delta Air Lines and its commercial squeeze  Coca-Cola confronted passengers with what are now known as "creepy napkins."

Surely you heard about, or even partook of, the noise.

The napkins enjoyed this enticement:

Because you're on a plane full of interesting people and hey... you never know.

I'm not entirely convinced that all planes are full of interesting people. Still, at least this offered intrigue.

The napkins encouraged any passenger who liked the look of any other passenger to write down their name and phone number on the napkin and pass it to their so-called plane crush. Delta and Coke called it an "old school" approach.

Oh, this went down about as well as a large glass of old-school Bordeaux and Coke.

 Delta immediately staggered toward the defensive, with a tortured apology:

We rotate Coke products regularly as part of our brand partnership, but missed the mark with this one. We are sorry for that and began removing the napkins from our aircraft in January. We sincerely apologize to anyone we may have offended.

I struggle.

Perhaps this might have been a touch gauche. Perhaps it might have encouraged the wrong sorts to act out, though in my experience the wrong sorts don't need the encouragement of a napkin to act out.

Perhaps some people, though, merely thought it was a little off-brand for Delta to be approving such behavior. There's enough abject behavior on flights already -- sometimes even on Delta flights.

Then again, why react to this as if it's an outrageous new idea?

A few years ago, Virgin America -- may the Good Lord rest its soul -- introduced seat-to-seat texting.

It positively encouraged passengers to flirt with each other. Why, the airline even created an instructional video, featuring the aging Adonis himself. Yes, Sir Richard Branson.

Yes, it was a guide to getting lucky.

For Virgin America, this was entirely on brand, if also almost entirely sexist.

The good Sir even encouraged "suggestive seat-to-seat chat."

It's a delicate balance, isn't it?

Sometimes we kick ourselves for not saying something to somebody. Sometimes, we kick ourselves for not encouraging someone else to say something to us.

And sometimes, when either of the previous events happens, we so wish it hadn't.

Please forgive me if my outrage at Delta and Coke falls short.

My main worry, indeed, would lie in the horrible thought that the napkin had a drinks stain on it. 

Not classy, that.

Published on: Feb 9, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.