I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

Home Uncategorized The Meaning of Ryanair

The Meaning of Ryanair

Michael Cronin
A Christian Brothers’ primary school in Mullingar in the late 1960s. A young boy has been forced to sit under the teacher’s desk for failing a spelling test. Every time he makes a mistake he receives a further kick from the teacher. Was this abuse? Not in the view of the CEO of Ryanair, Michael O’Leary, who was that little boy. In an interview with Siobhán Creaton, he claimed: “I was only seven years old but I don’t think of myself as an abused or battered soul and I certainly got my spelling right the next day.” (Creaton 2007) He helpfully added that if he had children and a teacher asked him if he could slap one of them, he would say, “Go right ahead.” Nothing like a good kicking to make sure you get your ABC right and as every Ryanair passenger comes to realise, sparing the rod can spoil the bottom line. The states of fear that provided the formative milieu for the young O’Leary have been profitably transferred to the airline which has developed a specialism in corporate punishment. What you have you can no longer hold. The first intimation that fear is the order of the day is the policing of the weighing scales. The suitcase is lifted with a faint crackle of anxiety onto the belt and the digits illuminate the verdict. The shame of being outed for being overweight and ordered to leave the queue, like some errant Oliver being refused another bowl. Here is your moment in the stocks, the disinterred contents of your suitcase subject to the mocking gaze of onlookers who quietly savour the schadenfreude of the moment, that vaguely condescending triumph of the rule obeyers, craftily weighing bags on bathroom scales to enjoy the warm compliance of the Ryanair forcing house. The queues. This is another sign that you are entering into a world where new rules apply. The queuing starts long before the gate opens. Initially, there is the animated conversation as the passengers join the queue for the unallocated seats but quickly the initial excitement of departure gives way to the silent, sullen hostility of the long wait. Penned in like unhappy cattle destined for foreign meat markets, the passengers have that fretful anxiety of deportees alert to any rumour of delay or departure. Here is where the black and white realities of coercion begin to leak from the past…

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