Balloon of happiness
Yousef is a small boy intelligent and discerning. He was very familiar of his father the way he talked about his accounts in banks, about his property abroad, saw money in his father’s hands, and how he used the credit cards to buy the household needs.
Yousef also observed that his father did not spend money either on himself or his household compared to his wealth.
His mother was always complaining and arguing with his father about the household expenses when it came to either renovating the kitchen, the bathrooms or buying new furniture for their old house, and repair to the entrance of the house and replacing the worn out staircase which even the guests had complained about.
He also saw how his father always responded to his mother’s urgent requests.
The contractors came and went. Discussions with them concerning renovation of the house continued to make the house a better place for living.
Yousef saw his father asking for offers, specifications for the kitchen, the color of bathroom tiles and the quality of entrance marble but more often than not nothing happened and the situation returned to square one with mother and father arguing over the same issues.
One day his father returned from work and surprised Yousef with a blue balloon which was tied to a string and handed it to him. Yousef was very happy and cheerful and showed everyone what his father had bought for him, while everyone around was surprised of Yousef’s happiness since all that he got from his father was a very cheap balloon.
What those around him did not know was the truth about his feelings and the symbol of the balloon.
They did not know Yousef was tired because there was no joy in the house and the situation of the house had largely remained unchanged. Everyone around had complained about the bad situation of the house since there was no change, and everyone around him complained and complained but there was no response in spite of the availability of money and goodwill of contractors and others to meet all demands of mother and father, and therefore Yousef thought that the blue balloon was the beginning of change.
Now we come to another Yousef — Yousef Al-Jassem, chairman of the Kuwait Airways Corporation who was ridiculed for his exaggerated celebration of the opening of the Terminal 4 temporary passenger building, which looks like a blue balloon compared to the world’s major airports.
However, almost all of us were witness to that happening. We rejoiced holding the blue balloons, not because of the price of the balloon, or the new terminal, but for the symbol of the event itself, and the beginning of the end of the suffering of more than four-and-a-half million passengers who fly Kuwait Airways every year.
I personally have suffered from the malfunctioning of Kuwait International Airport, with its flaccid management and its inability to innovate in any way, even temporarily.
For a quarter of a century, I have had more than 400 back and forth experiences through this unhappy airport, half of which was a miserable experience, because of poor service, insecurity, overcrowding, having to use high staircases up and down, boarding worn out buses without air-conditioning to get to or from the aircraft, and other intrusions. It was not strange, therefore, that many others, like me, refused to fly the Kuwait Airways because of bad services.
The company still needs a lot to become truly reliable, but our hope is that the successful son of Kuwait Airways will succeed in lifting it out of its bad situation, the responsibility for which inevitably does not fall on those who have previously managed it.
Rather, it is the government that is to be blamed for using the company for years to win the satisfaction of MPs and their acceptance to employ their relatives, giving them free travel, and spending hundreds of millions every year to cover their losses while the government was not interested in knowing the losses as a result it was no surprise that the situation of the company had reached its present level.
We will definitely return to Kuwait Airways, with its new management, and we hope that the current board of directors will be stable and the staff will not change with each ministerial change.
By Ahmad Al-Sarraf