Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Channeling My Inner Gwyneth

  Flying today isn't the event that it was years ago. People dressed up for flights and treated the air time like a special occasion. Passengers got a first class experience no matter where they were seated, and Flight Attendants were still glamourous. 
  These days you're lucky to sit with your family, get any snack at all, reach your destination on time, or feel even close to first class. Flight Attendants are of course still glamourous (no bias there!) but it's hidden under a more casual, sometimes even messy, exterior. 
  When I'm feeling invisible, like just another face, put in position to transport you from point A to point B, I channel my inner Gwyneth. One of my personally most inspirational movies of all time is View From The Top starring one Gwyneth Paltrow as Donna Jensen, small town girl who will settle for no less than "first class international." 
   Donna works her way up from Royalty Express, a commuter airline where she takes pride in her "bologna or cheese" inflight service, to a new route where she's takes delight in serving cookies. Finally she earns her place in the First Class cabin from New York to Paris, speaking French and serving champagne and caviar. 
  As I flew to Hawaii Monday afternoon, serving Chicken Curry, Prawns, and Pineapple bread pudding to my 16 first class passengers, I found the Gwyneth within me. 
  As I took time to turn every butter patty so the words faced the plate, and carefully placed the silverware, refilling cocktails as I moved through the cabin, I wondered if anyone noticed. Do they see that the flower is never upside down? That if you leave it on your tray, I bring it back with your dessert?  
  I suppose it's only partly for them though, and mostly for me. If I take pride in what I do and pay attention to detail, I think about Donna Jensen and remember that I'll always remember to smile, even when we run out of bloody mary mix. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

Mad Science...

It's been a long time since I've blogged... But let me assure you there's been no lack of inspiration. 
In the last five days, it's become clear to me that I need to start writing again, if for no other reason than to get my thoughts out of my own head. 
I left my house early Monday morning this week for a two day trip... It's now Friday and I'm finally going home. 
After calling my neighbor to check on my kitty while I was gone, and resigning to the idea that I would be spending the next four days in Alaska, I was able to enjoy the adventure that comes with Arctic flying. 
Highlights from the last 15 flights in 5 days, 8 of which were Arctic, include prisoners, a "make it 3" drink slogan, a mad scientist, and a woman who smelled so much like my second grade teacher it sent me into 'happy memory land.'
Prisoners aren't actually that rare on our flights around the Arctic. Usually they are simply being transported from a village with no jail to a bigger city to serve their 30 days before being escorted back. A first for me this week was a request for rubber gloves from the wonderful female cop escorting two men, so that she could tie back her prisoners hair in a ponytail for the flight. Oh the glamour of a job that's never done. What stood out in the moment however was her engagement with the men, who she clearly had met before, and had a respectful understanding with. It's a different world that far north in the tiny villages, and I give her miles of credit for her difficult job, and her calming manner. 
The mad scientist is a short blip, but it's brought us plenty of laughter. It's hard being a teenager, and finding one's identity can be a process. Let's just hope that this particular young man turns out to be a doctor or scientist so that when looking back at old pictures he can say "told ya," at the sight of his white lab coat and spiky black, electric shock hair. 
"Make it 3!"  On a flight to the arctic, typically an hour or less, drinking alcohol is a number one priority for many. Mainly because many of the villages are dry, and a heavy fine comes with possession. So it's no surprise when everybody orders a double, only to quickly tap you before you run their credit card and say "better make it 3!"
Needless to say, the short flights can be tiring, and sometimes sad. The level of drinking, a different expected education, teenage mothers and some leftover prejudice can wear you out.  One whiff, however, of a lotion scent that my second grade teacher Mrs. Cunningham must have used, was enough to remind me to perk up and smile. I was quickly transported back to a day when a best friend and I were invited to her beachside house for lunch where we strolled along with her black lab. I imagine she would like to have tea and hear some of these stories too :) 

Thursday, November 26, 2009

This can't be the first time...

My mother tells me that I am good with senior citizens. I like to think that she is right, that I have patience and compassion, and that I am able to give credit to he fact that the mind changes with time. And she's right, because if not, this is what I might have said to the woman on my flight last night:
"is the the first time you've soiled yourself in your life?"
To which she would reply,
"No, it's happened before"
Which would of course would lead me to think,
"Well then you must have a change of pants, and perhaps a Depends you could put on?"
But alas, no.

Ladies and gentleman, if you've ever had this problem in the past, or your sending someone one a plane that has had this issue... Please, please, please be prepared. Depends are a fabulous invention, and after my flight, I will be writing to them with a new marketing idea: Airport Vend-Depend. Get yours today!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

How embarassing for you :(

All-nighters make me sad, they make me physically ill, and if at all possible I won't fly them.
However, as the story goes, I often have no choice in what I fly, which recently placed me on a flight from 1am to 7am.
Now, to be positive, these flights are a piece of cake when all goes as planned. Everyone sleeps on them, so there's hardly any work to be done! That is, if you can snap your fingers and force yourself to nap during the day so that you are capable of staying awake during those god forsaken hours, in which you are not allowed, by any means, to sleep at all... and if you don't react like my body does to lack of sleep and spew in the lav.
Mostly though, what we truly hope for above all else on these flights, is a healthy cabin with no medical emergencies. You see, with the night comes dehydration, disorientation and dizziness. While efforts to keep people happy and healthy are of course our number one priority, often somebody feels the need to *BING BING*
"My husband is having trouble breathing"
Not a problem yet really, we supply oxygen to the patient, page for a doctor, and monitor for the remainder of the flight. Medical personnel will meet the flight and make sure the person is ok, and more often than not, that's as exciting as it gets.
Now you may refer to my title and think "nobody should be embarrassed to ask for help, how dare she make one feel ashamed to ask for help, isn't that what you want passengers to do before is gets serious?" YES! Please ask for help before it escalates my friends!
My aforementioned embarrassment is not for this poor dear! It is for this one:
While tending to this passenger, we received another *BING*
Responding to this call light, my friend and coworker came upon a woman who seemed fairly concerned (how nice) and her reaction was this...

"What's going on? Should we be worried?"
"Everything is under control mam, just an elderly man feeling ill"
"Ill? Do I need a mask?"

And here is where we encounter embarrassment.
Well... she didn't appear to be embarrassed, but that's ok, because we were all embarrassed enough for her.
So for the future, if while flying you become aware that there is a medical situation on board that is being tended to, please think about somebody other than yourself before *BING*

Friday, August 28, 2009

Pillows, Blankets, and Finger Pointing

Do you know what you get from a flight attendant when you shake your finger in her face and demand things AT THIS MOMENT!....??? Nothing, you get nothing...
You see, we are there on the plane to make sure you have a safe and pleasant journey, and we would be happy to help you stow luggage, find the handle to the restroom, and make sure you are properly hydrated (along with saving your butt in an emergency). But the minute you start demanding things from us like we owe it to you, all courteous offers seem to slip the mind :) As confirmed by my fellow flight attendant on yesterdays flight, entitlement is not a quality we respect!
So dear little lady with the medical reason that REQUIRES a pillow or blanket... be glad you shook your finger at me, because I didn't let you have the choice words flying through my head. We resolved this problem together by making use of the plush fake fur coat you had previously told another passenger (who replied "if you say pretty please") to cram into the overhead bin.
Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome aboard TEAMWORK AIRLINES, where when you work together to solve simple problems, we don't throw you off the plane ;)
PS... the CDC recommended all pillows and blankets that are reused throughout the day without washing be removed... eeeeeeeeeewwwww gross, germs.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

To the traveling mom...

Dear mother of 3 traveling on my flight today... thank you!

You had snacks, movies, puzzles and patience :) Although perhaps common sense to you dear mom... many need your advice! Please, please, please ladies and gentelmen, understand that we no longer have food, playing cards, or other means of entertainment for your children (which you should no if you have flown in the last century). And yes, they will get hungry, and bored, even on a 90 minute flight. So do like this savvy mother of 3 and head on down to the dollar store, spend $10 on some puzzles and games that will be new and exciting to your darlings, and in turn, they will appear darling to us.

Dear woman traveling alone and headed to a VERY important meeting... Yes, I am sorry that the flight was delayed you you will now miss said meeting... but no, I cannot refund your $200 right now, and no, I do not have the name of the specific agent that will be working the counter when we arrive that can then refund your $200. I can however give you turn by turn directions from our arrival gate to the service center, where a uniformed (and smiling) agent will address this isssue. Until then, you are stuck in this tube with me, and I with you... so let me just say that a 5 year old saved us both today. You see, I don't like to be yelled at, or commanded, or talked down to, just as I'm sure you don't, but today when I recieved this treatment from you, I drew upon the positive energy given to me by a 5 year old.

So again to the mother of 3... thank you! Today you allowed me to be kind when one was not kind to me. Your son gave me a gift today, he gave me the 3D cricket he made on the plane because I told him green was my favorite color, and he gave me a smile for the rest of the day.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Bing! Bing! Bing! Bing!

To the parents out there who send their children as Unaccompanied Minors (UM's) on our flights... we love your kids! They make us laugh, tell us stories, and often we learn more in the first 5 minutes than you would ever want shared (Chewy Granola commercial anyone?).

This however brings us to a valuable lesson: The Call Button.

The call button is to be used when you must get the immediate attention of a flight attendant, who will likely be by in less than 5 minutes, but that isn't soon enough. For instance, you spill... or are having a heart attack. The call button is not to have us come by and individually pick up your one piece of trash, bring you another soda before anyone else, or tell you how many states we have left to fly over.

Parents... if we have your child as a UM, we probably have more... perhaps 11 like yesterdays flight. So every time we have to interrupt our service to answer their call light (say 15 times in a 3.5 hour flight), we are neglecting 141 other passengers. Please tell your children to mind themselves, especially when told more than once by a crew member that this behavior is unacceptable. And lastly... if this call button pushing behavior is something they picked up on from you... well that's a whole new lesson.