Landing a job with NASA is pretty much like winning the lottery, except it's way harder. For the lottery all you need to do is buy a ticket and have a machine pick out a bunch of numbers. You can sit on the couch and belch the alphabet and you could become a millionaire.
NASA, on the other hand, means you have to study your butt off, make tons of personal sacrifices in your life from relationships to socializing to maintaining a "wholesome" social media presence and you still might not be up to snuff to work for the organization.
But Twitter user Naomi H. managed to defy the odds and got accepted into NASA's internship program. She was so happy that she kind of forgot that last part about keeping her Twitter profile "wholesome".
Now there's something about Twitter where some people just let it all hang out, moreso than other social media platforms. I could spend time explaining what the difference is, but I think this important meme will do a better job than I could.
As happy as Naomi was expressing her elation and joy in landing an internship with mother-flippin' NASA in the lawless social wasteland that is Twitter, she should've paid closer attention to the language she was using.
Especially because her Tweets were public (as they are set by default) and as an official intern of NASA, she represented the organization. So someone decided to let her know to tone the language down.
Naomi didn't really care too much for Homer Hickam's advice. She probably thought to herself, "who's this old dude who's trying to rain on my parade right now?" So she decided to respond as one would in a lawless social media wasteland.
By telling him to "suck my d--k and b---s" because "I'm working at NASA". It's not a classy response, but, I mean, she kind of has a point. If she's smart enough to work at NASA, who's to tell her a few over-joyous cuss words on social media are bad?
As it turns out, however, Homer was someone to tell her that she shouldn't be cussing on social media. And that's because Homer Hickam is a bonafide legend in the world of aeronautics and knows a thing or two about being a professional.
The man's an author, a Vietnam War veteran, and a former NASA engineer. He also trained the first Japanese astronauts and his memoir, Rocket Boys was a New York Times best seller and the inspiration behind the Jake Gyllenhaal classic October Sky. It turns out that Naomi was back-sassing the wrong individual on social media.
Now I want you to sit down and imagine you're a young woman who just realized she told someone who could easily destroy her entire future career in aerospace to "suck" her "d--k and b---s".
I'm trying to imagine what she felt like when it dawned on her that she messed with the wrong Homer Hickam online, I'm thinking that it went a little something like this.
Once people saw Homer's epic comeback to Naomi's arrogant outbursts, they blew up the thread, screencapped her convo, and began replying to the unfortunate series of events with the #NASA hashtag.
Someone at NASA must've seen Naomi's tweets and just as quickly as she discovered she was accepted into their internship program, she was fired from the position.
Here's the kicker though: Homer didn't have anything to do with Naomi getting fired. In fact, after he learned that she lost her opportunity to work with NASA, he felt bad and began working to secure her internship again.
If you needed any more evidence that this dude has a heart of gold, just look at this blog post he published (and has since deleted), that BuzzFeed put up when they covered the story:
"I'm a Vietnam vet and not at all offended by the F-word. However, when I saw NASA and the word used together, it occurred to me that this young person might get in trouble if NASA saw it so I tweeted to her one word: "Language" and intended to leave it at that.
Soon, her friends took umbrage and said a lot of unkind things but long after I was gone as I immediately deleted my comments and blocked all concerned.
Later, I learned she had lost her offer for an internship with NASA. This I had nothing to do with nor could I since I do not hire and fire at the agency or have any say on employment whatsoever. As it turned out, it was due to the NASA hashtag her friends used that called the agency's attention to it long after my comments were gone."
Naomi then apologized to Homer, who accepted it and then went out of his way to try and find her an even better opportunity than the one she had.
"She reached out to me with an unnecessary apology which I heartily accepted and returned with my own. After talking to her, I am certain she deserves a position in the aerospace industry and I'm doing all I can to secure her one that will be better than she lost. I have also talked to the folks that had to do with her internship and made absolutely certain that there will be no black mark on her record."
Perhaps the most maddening part of this insane story is that there were throngs of people who rushed to vilify Homer as if he was somehow in the wrong for cautioning a young professional about the danger her career could be in for using foul language in a public sphere like Twitter. The fact that he happened to be an "old white male" who was doing it made everything worse. Nevermind his accomplishments and accolades, I guess.
However, more than a few people saw how absolutely senseless it was to paint Homer as the bad guy, especially because he did everything in his power to ensure no marks would be made on Naomi's official record and that she would regain her position with NASA.
It looks like Homer's graciousness will pay off and that Naomi may just get her internship reinstated. Hopefully, she learns a valuable lesson about the dangers of insulting pioneering members of a field you want to work in publicly on social media when they're just trying to help you.
Or maybe not, I mean, because if some of the anti-Homer tweets are to be believed you should be able to insult anybody at any point in time and then get away with it with zero repercussions. Imagine designing a rocket and not being able to take any type of criticism?
"Suck my d--k and b---s about structural integrity, I work at NASA."
"Yeah, so did the people who designed the Challenger shuttle."
"...but I work at NASA."
Gosh I feel like such a crotchety old man for saying this, but seriously, what the hell is the world coming to?