Napkin Delta Air Lines
Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

The Suicide Napkin is Still Around 15 Months Later?

“You guys are all missing the point entirely….it’s written exactly as it is to turn the phrase that Brian thought he was reading on its head” is what Bill — who is a reader of The Gatecommented in response to this article titled The World Is Better With Out You In It — Is How I Initially Read This, which I wrote back on Wednesday, May 30, 2018. “‘The world is better without you in it’ is a common phrase that I’ve seen leveled at others often…this rewording turns that insulting phrase into a positive one.”

The Suicide Napkin is Still Around 15 Months Later?

Napkin Delta Air Lines
Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

When I first wrote that article, I figured I was probably the only one who read that napkin the wrong way. After all, we all at sometime or another on occasion initially read something the wrong way — and this very phenomenon happened to me aboard an airplane during a flight in the spring of 2018 when a member of the flight crew served a beverage to me…

…and there it was: a napkin with words printed on it. I read the message initially as The World Is Better With Out You In It; but the actual message is The World Is Better With You Out In It. My mind automatically transposed the words You and Out in what would otherwise indeed be the same message — and yes, I do understand that without is one word and not two words.

I pointed it out to one of the flight attendants; and she agreed with me after a moment of reading that napkin. She commented on how Delta Air Lines could hire someone who seems to write from the point of view that English is not the primary language, and another passenger seemed to think that the grammar was poor in general.

Looking at the analytics of The Gate recently, I noticed a significant spike in views for the aforementioned article — I wondered why, at first — and I now see other articles being written about what is now loosely known as the “suicide napkin” based on what has been posted on Twitter only a few days ago

…and here is the official response from Delta Air Lines:


What the mind does sometimes is simply amazing. Fortunately, I did a double-take after reading than napkin for the first time. After all — I thought to myself — how could Delta Air Lines use such a message with which to address customers?

I also thought that the design on this napkin resembled that of Continental Airlines prior to being taken over by United Airlines — the design has changed slightly since the original article which I wrote last year — but perhaps I should save that for another time…

…and for the record, I have never been diagnosed with dyslexia — even though I do not own a Lexus automobile — but I can read backwards, upside down, inside out and other unusual ways in which text appears to me.

Besides, companies often take advantage of the way people read to either market what they are selling or to get a point across. Remember when Kentucky Fried Chicken — or KFC, as it is better known — suffered from a shortage of chicken in February of 2018 to the point where it was forced to either temporarily close or offer a limited menu of items at most of its 900 restaurants in the United Kingdom?

This image was used to address the issue. At first glance, what did you think was printed on the paper bucket?

One other thing I need to mention: the world is better with you in it and not just out in it. Thank you for reading The Gate.

Now I feel like Mister Rogers

…but in the meantime, do you agree or disagree with what Bill wrote which appears at the beginning of this article?

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

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