Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
It's not been a good week for United Airlines.
Although if I had the choice between Japan and Kansas, I have a feeling the latter might be edged out.
Typically at such times of painful public relations, I hear from United employees.
They tell me of the state of their psyche. They show me some of the other reactions from inside the airline.
I listen, as all decent shrinks should. They're in pain.
What, though, do they see as the main problems with the airline?
"Could this get any worse?" one Flight Attendant told me.
Of the dead dog incident, one Flight Attendant told me it had made her weep.
Another said: "I think everyone is just shocked and saddened by the incident. Pets don't belong in overhead bins and we all know that. I can't comment on the specifics because I wasn't there, but this should not have happened. We know better."
That's the problem, though, isn't it? Sometimes we know what the right thing to do is and we still don't do it.
"Morale isn't good," one United employee told me. "There's so much bad blood after the lottery bonus scandal. Everyone is wondering how they could even suggest something like that. And we still don't know whether they're going to take our bonuses away anyway."
Some specifically point to pressure that's being placed by the airline on getting passengers boarded as quickly as possible.
"We are held accountable for on-time departures," said one Flight Attendant. "If there's a delay in boarding, we usually have to explain why to supervisors."
But wait, the airline instituted its new policy of compassion after the terrible incident with Dr. David Dao being dragged down an aisle, his face all bloodied?
This, I'm told, clashes with the new policy to get the plane out on time, or else.
"We're dealing with a lot of quick turns lately," a Flight Attendant told me. "That's when a plane arrives at a gate and has to go back out in less than an hour. So that means cleaners are scrambling before boarding and so are flight attendants during boarding."
It's possible that when you're scrambling, your mind scrambles "There's a dog in that carrier. Please don't put it in the overhead bin."
This is what the airline claims happened in the dead dog affair, that the Flight Attendant didn't hear or misunderstood what was in the carrier.
I contacted United for its view, but the airline didn't respond.
In an online forum, a Flight Attendant described the boarding process as "the craziest part of a Flight Attendant's day."
Not dealing with the woman who's put both her feet up on the tray table?
The Flight Attendant explained: "FA's don't get paid until the aircraft pushes back from the gate."
Then, they said, there's the problem with what Flight Attendants view as deliberate understaffing.
"There is only one FA in coach during boarding. FA is responsible for FAR's [Federal Aviation Regulations], security, bags, seat dupes, unams [unaccompanied minors], exit row criteria, checking bags, looking for overserved people [drunks], scanning for people who might be a security threat, answering passengers' questions etc," said the Flight Attendant.
Some might think that this is, well, the job. Indeed, the minimum staffing levels are set by the Federal Aviation Administration. It's not a surprise that airlines staff their planes to the minimum, is it?
Some Flight Attendants, though, believe they have far too much to do in far too short a time.
Pockets of the media are currently wondering whether CEO Oscar Muñoz will take the fall for the constant PR disasters.
The Flight Attendants and other employees I've listened to, however, blame airline president Scott Kirby and not Muñoz for the airline's woes.
When you've got senators proposing bills because you can't keep dogs alive -- if only, some might observe, senators could do that when, say, humans are killed by guns -- you have a very serious image problem.
And that image problem is being reflected in reactions within the airline.
It's not as if Delta, American or other airlines' Flight Attendants don't complain too.
Here, though, it feels more ingrained, as if the constant bad PR is affecting everyone.
And when the revised version of the bonus lottery comes out -- the airline tried to get rid of the employees' regular bonus in favor of a lottery in which only a few would win -- do you imagine things will be better or worse?