A Black Eye? Try Black-Eyed Peas

J. Keith Hughey


Volume XXI, Number 1 (Issue 1005) January 2, 2023

A Black Eye? Try Black-Eyed Peas

As a long-time member of the traveling public, not to mention someone who has flown Southwest Airlines on a regular basis (case in point, my SWA frequent flyer number has only five digits), here is hoping the executives at Southwest took time to enjoy an extra helping of black-eyed peas and greens yesterday. They do, after all, need as much good luck as possible if they are to redeem themselves from the self-inflicted black eye they and their company earned at Christmas.

There is no need to rehash, let alone relive the gigantic mess they bestowed on the entire flying public, their customers, those customers’ holiday plans, their employees, and the airline’s reputation. Countless pundits, reporters, bloggers, current and former SWA employees, and assorted backseat drivers have reported and/or opined on the meltdown and the reasons behind it. Suffice it so say as an outsider looking in, it does seem there has been a sizable disconnect between their messaging and their internal strategies and practices in recent years. More to the point, non-stop frugality can only carry you so far before it comes back to bite you. The consequence of what appears to be a series of penny-wise and pound-foolish decisions culminated in what might best be described as a complex house of cards. And that house came tumbling down at the worst possible time.

To fix things – at least as I assess the scattered pieces – requires SWA’s management to do at least three things:

  1. Own your mistake(s)! No excuses! Also, sincerely apologize while making right as much of the damage done as is humanly possible (those actions must be directed at the flying public, SWA’s staff, and numerous other stakeholders).
  2. Operations matter so make the investment in internal systems that have been neglected for all these years. That will take time – lots of time – as well as lots of money.
  3. Going forward your every deed must match your words in the same way they once did. In essence, walk the talk when it comes to your professed values.

Might there be lessons here for others beside SWA? Perhaps. I would say definitely if reputation risk is one of your concerns.

As for the reference to black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day, for those unfamiliar with the tradition, the premise is by eating black-eyed peas and greens on the first

day of the year it will bring good fortune throughout the new year. That is because black-eyed peas and greens are thought of as a poor man’s dinner. Various legends say the practice began in the south during the Civil War either as a meal eaten by some of the slave population on January 1, 1863, in celebration of their promised emancipation, or as a meal of necessity consumed by the general population there because black-eyed peas and field greens were the only staples the Army of the Potomac refused to eat in their foraging for food stuffs – believing them to be fit only for livestock.

Regardless, many now elect to start the new year with such a meager meal in the hope it will lead to days, weeks, and months of prosperity in the year to come. Personally, I eat them on January 1 as well as other times during the year because I like the taste – especially when flavored with ham and served with cornbread. So, did you start your new year off with a helping of black-eyed peas and greens? If not, it is not too late to enjoy the promise of a great remainder of 2023!

Wishing you good health, joy, and prosperity in the new year!

Soli Deo Gloria

“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8

Mobile: (210)260-0955
E-mail: keith@jkeithhughey.com
Web site: www.jkeithhughey.com

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Copyright 2023 by J. Keith Hughey. All rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted for reproduction and redistribution of this essay as provided under the copyright laws of the United States of America. The entire early library of Monday Morning Musings issues may be found at www.jkeithhughey.com. Your comments are welcome and encouraged.

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