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 :)