She didn't expect her video of a screaming Delta passenger would go viral - now she feels bad
The original video has more than 1.8 million views on Facebook alone, each one of them a hard lesson for Marissa Rundell.
She filmed a woman who allegedly yelled at Rundell and her baby during boarding on a Feb. 6 Delta flight from New York to Syracuse, New York The woman was taken off the plane, and Rundell's video, posted on Facebook for her family to see, soon rocketed across social media and garnered coverage in newspapers, including this one.
But now Rundell regrets recording Susan Peirez, who has been suspended upon review at her New York state government job.
"I kind of feel bad for this lady. I don't know her story, she doesn't know mine. It might have been a misunderstanding," Rundell, 19, told the business publication Inc. in a recent interview. "I posted it before we even took off. I thought, my family's going to want to see this. By the time we landed my entire family had seen it."
A brief confrontation occurred before Rundell began to film, she said. Peirez used obscenities when complaining about being in the back of the plane. "I said, please don't use that language in front of my son, and she didn't even recognize I was there. She started swearing again," Rundell said.
After another request to keep her language family-friendly, Peirez reportedly said, "Shut up and shove it." Peirez could not be reached for comment.
Shortly after, Rundell started recording as Peirez is shown moving about the aisle and row of seats opposite Rundell. She invoked New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and threatened to have the flight attendant fired. Peirez had asked to sit farther away from the "crying baby" - who was not heard crying in the video - before she was ultimately removed from the plane.
The video circulated among Rundell's family for about three days before it began to enter the public stream, she said.
"I don't (often) post really anything," on Facebook, Rundell told Inc. "This was a one-time thing and it happened. ... I totally was caught off guard with everyone who has been watching it. I didn't even realize that many people could see what I was posting."
The viral video prompted a review by the woman's employer, the New York State Council on the Arts, where Peirez works as a program director.
"State employees are and must be held to the highest standard both professionally and personally," said Ronni Reich, a spokeswoman for the organization. Peirez's name and photo appear to have been removed from the website.
"We were notified of this situation and have commenced an investigation," Reich said in an emailed statement, adding that Peirez has been placed on leave until the inquiry is concluded.
In the video, Peirez threatens the flight attendant upon being told that she couldn't be seated away from Rundell and her baby.
"You may not have a job tomorrow," Peirez tells the flight attendant.
That prompts the flight attendant to tell a crew member that she wants "this lady off the plane." When Peirez starts apologizing, the flight attendant tells her, "You just screamed at a woman and her baby."
Peirez continues to apologize. "I'm not screaming, I'll be quiet now, please. OK? I'm sorry, I was really stressed out. Please," she says.
Rundell in her Facebook post thanked the "lovely Delta flight attendant for not letting this woman bully us."
"This lady thought she was going to be rude to me and Mason," she wrote after the incident. "Now she has no way home today."
Authors Information: Marwa Eltagouri is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post.