Thursday, February 8, 2018

I Have Alllllll the Questions for That Woman Who Flushed Her Emotional Support Hamster Down an Airport Toilet

My dudes. MY DUDES! 

I have AAAAAAALL the questions for Belen Aldecosea, the 21 year-old college student who was allegedly told by Spirit Airlines to flush her emotional support hamster down the toilet, rather than being allowed to take it on the plane from Baltimore to Fort Lauderdale.

Please permit me to postpone my Q&A of Belen for a brief throat-clearing digression.

Before I went to law school, I worked for a city agency called the Civilian Complaint Review Board, which investigated public complaints of police misconduct against the NYPD. And in my two years in that job, I learned pretty quickly--and any good lawyer will tell you this--that there is always ALWAYS more to the story. 

I recall one woman in particular who came downtown to our offices with a claim of force and discourtesy against a patrol cop who’d arrested her in the South Bronx. 

"I was just standing there with my linguana [iguana] on a leash, and next thing I know? I'm at Rikahs!" [Rikers' Island jail], she said indignantly in a thick Nuyorican accent. 

"Now wait a minute," I said, putting a hand up. "Something must have happened in between the cop approaching you to ask about your iguana on a leash and ending up on Rikers' Island? No?”

All of which leads to my many--MANY--questions for Belen. 

While the reporter did a good job of making a viral internet story on the click-bearing heels of "emotional support peacock-gate" and O.H.M.'s very own "emotional support giraffe" post, he didn't ask NEARLY enough questions.

Doesn't she have better things to do than a deep dive into Emotional-Support-Hamster-Flushed-Down-the-Toilet-Gate?, you might be asking yourself. And you'd be right to ask that question. 

But no, would be the answer. 

So without further ado, I give you quotes from the original Miami Herald article followed by all the questions the reporter should have asked, and that I certainly hope Belen's lawyer (she has retained one in this matter, of course) will ask, both of Belen and all the other people involved in this whole sordid, furry affair.

With her only friends hours away at campus, Aldecosea was stuck. She says an airline representative suggested flushing Pebbles down an airport toilet, a step that Spirit denies. 

M’kay.

Now this is a classic case of "she-said-he-said-she-should-flush-a-pet-rodent-down-the-toilet/he-said-he-never-said-she-should-flush-a-pet-rodent-down-the-toilet." 

And my question is, is there any record of this conversation, either orally or in writing? If not, I'm afraid the only two people who will ever know the truth about what exactly was said in that fateful exchange are Belen and the unnamed representative of Spirit Airlines.

And as will soon become clear, however, Belen arguably has a *slight* credibility problem.

Panicked and needing to return home promptly to deal with a medical issue, Aldecosea unsuccessfully tried renting a car and agonized for hours before doing the unthinkable. She flushed Pebbles. “She was scared. I was scared. It was horrifying trying to put her in the toilet,” Aldecosea said. “I was emotional. I was crying. I sat there for a good 10 minutes crying in the stall.”

Was Belen's medical issue clinical stupidity and lack of resourcefulness? Is that in the DSM IV? If not, Belen’s case proved that it should be. 

And HOW promptly was promptly? In the ten minutes that Belen and Pebbles were mutually scared in this Shakespearean toilet murder, did she ever stop to ask herself, “How have I made it to the age of 21 just doing what some random customer service rep tells me to do? How have I not jumped off a cliff yet? Should I follow my GPS into a lake like in that episode of the Office?” Maybe a lemming should be Belen’s next pet.

Aldecosea, 21, of Miami Beach, is now considering filing a lawsuit against Spirit over the conflicting instructions that wound up pressuring her into making an anguished decision with a pet certified by her doctor as an emotional support animal. She shared her story with the Miami Herald weeks after the story of an emotional support peacock — denied entrance to a United Airlines flight — went viral on the Internet.


Ah, you accidentally revealed the real reason you wrote this, reporter-guy, didn't you? It's okay, I get it. From one click-whore to another, I get it. Believe me. But at least ask all the questions, can't you? 


Like was Belen really "pressured into making an anguished decision?" Like was this REALLY a Catch-22? Was there really NOTHING Belen could have done other than flush the very creature she so desperately needed to the point that she got a fucking DOCTOR'S NOTE saying she needed a rodent for EMOTIONAL SUPPORT down the SHITTER? I mean, she couldn't have needed him THAT much?

I've had boyfriends I've treated better than this!

This case is much different, said her South Florida attorney, Adam Goodman. “This wasn’t a giant peacock that could pose a danger to other passengers. This was a tiny cute harmless hamster that could fit in the palm of her hand,” he said.

My question here is for the lawyer, Adam Goodman. Based on his name, Adam is a fellow traveler in the Tribe of Israel and we are probably related, if not through DNA then through American Jewish Geography. 


So from one Jew to another: What would your mother say about this? You know she thinks hamsters are disgusting, so good job overcoming your own genetic disgust to represent this worthy cause. 

But are you sure you've asked your client everything? Everyone thinks their case is a "much different" special snowflake.

How do you know Pebbles couldn't endanger other passengers? Maybe he had Hamster Plague? Would a jury find Pebbles tiny or cute? You'd better anticipate that. What is your cause of action here? What are the damages? A gift certificate to Petco? You gotta think these things through before you go running off to the courthouse steps, my dude.

Aldecosea says Pebbles was a true comfort animal and she had her doctor’s letter certifying the rodent. Dwarf hamsters grow no more than four inches and weigh less than two ounces. A typical cellphone is longer and twice as heavy.

But a typical cellphone doesn't shit and piss in your hand, right? There's not an app for that, at least not yet? Is there?

A Miami Beach High grad, Aldecosea played volleyball at Barry University before transferring to Wilson College in Chambersburg, Penn., last year. It was during her first lonely semester there that Aldecosea developed a painful golf-ball size growth in her neck, leading to a cancer scare. Frazzled that fall, Aldecosea decided she needed a distraction. At a Pennsylvania Petco, she bought calm and quiet Pebbles. The hamster lived in her dorm room in a small plastic cage with a green spinning wheel, always scurrying to the front of the cage to greet her owner. “She was so loving. It was like she knew I needed somebody,” said Aldecosea.

Wow. Lots of questions for Belen here. 

They let you graduate from high school? And they let you into not one college, but two? Do you think you were maybe lonely because you couldn't figure out how to operate a doorknob? Was Pebbles really so loving? Do you think she was maybe just using you for your lettuce? And if not, why did you betray her by, I don't know, DROWNING HER IN A MUNICIPAL SEWER?!

In November, Aldecosea learned the growth was benign, but it was still painful. Withdrawing from school and going home hoping to have it removed, Aldecosea booked a Spirit flight from Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport to Fort Lauderdale.

Okay. Critical plot point in the case (listen up, Adam). The growth was benign (although Belen's idiocy is malignant, unfortunately). So Belen was going home to have the growth removed, leading to the natural conclusion that it was not an emergency after all, so again I ask, could she not have gone back to her dorm to figure this out?

“They gave me the wrong information more than once,” said Aldecosea, now a student at Texas State University.

A THIRD college?


After hectic discussions, an outraged Aldecosea accepted a flight later that day to try and figure out what to do with Pebbles. But she had no friends or family in town to pick up Pebbles. It was then, Aldecosea insists, that an employee suggested letting Pebbles go free outside or flushing her down the toilet.

Wait wait wait wait. How do we know that wasn't just Belen’s brain giving her one kinda stupid option and one really stupid option?

For hours, Aldecosea said, she struggled with what to do. She contacted at least six rental car agencies, but no cars were available during the busy holiday season and she wasn’t old enough to rent a car anyway. A Greyhound bus would have taken days to get to South Florida.


Okay, but ... Once Belen figured out she wasn’t old enough to rent a car, why did she THEN contact FIVE more rental car agencies? 

With her flight boarding soon, she pondered whether to just let Pebbles free outside. She said she considered it more humane to end her life right away, and not let her run around scared in the cold, only to die getting hit by a car.


What made Belen think that Pebbles wasn’t smart enough to avoid getting hit by a car? Like pretty much every small rodent escapes death by car, if they’re spry enough, and if not, well, that’s just evolution for ya. Belen could have started a breed of feral super-dwarf hamsters. Total missed opportunity here.

“I didn’t have any other options,” she said.


I'll end on a statement as opposed to a question, and I'm going to say Belen is right. As a general rule, Belen does not have any other options.




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