Recently, I had to go to recurrent training. For those of you non-airline folk, this is a yearly training day that all flight attendants must attend. Basically, once you requalify to evacuate a plane and perform CPR, all that’s left is about 7 hours of listening to a few people tell all of their war stories while the instructor tries to push us through the standard required information.
Ah, yes, stories from the airplane. Very few of these stories are ever very original. We’ve all heard them before. And the fun really starts when people start telling stories that aren’t even their own. These are airline myths. Kind of like the girl who tanned too much in the tanning bed and cooked her insides…
I think that for some, it really is the only time when they have a captive audience that has to listen to their stories. We are mandated by the government to be in that classroom for 8 hours. Everyone knows it. The longer the stories, the longer the day. It’s really great when someone says, “I know that everyone hates it when someone tell stories, but…” And they proceed to tell the standard, “my friend got a federal fine of $1000 for not standing in her boarding position…” or some other standard airline myth.
I consciously don’t even ask the instructor any questions. I don’t want to provoke a story from someone who thinks they have an illustration for my question. Which got me thinking–I do have some good airline stories. They are true, and they happened to me. This is no second hand stuff. I swear on my Flight Attendant Manual that what I am about to share is not bullshit.
On one particular flight about 6 years ago, there was someone who I probably can assume was homeless. How she got an airline ticket is beyond me. She was smelly, dirty, wearing mismatched clothes that were not her size, and she was dragging her belongings behind her in a bundle tied together with rope. How she managed to not offend people with her smell or bundle, I’ll never know. But, anyway, she made it onto my plane, and I was not about to be the one to deal with her now.
The flight went just fine. It was a short flight so we didn’t have to smell her for too long. Upon deplaning, a passenger approached me and said, “You may want to check, I think that lady took her seat cushion.” I looked back the couple rows to where she was sitting and sure enough, no seat bottom cushion. So, I went out into the jetway and found her tightening the ropes on her “carryon” bundle. Sticking out the back side was a bright blue seat cushion from the plane.
I said, “Ummm…M’am, I’m sorry, but we are going to need to keep that seat cushion you have tied up in your bundle.” And, I am not kidding, she looked thoughtfully at me and said, “Oh…but, I paid for my seat.” To which I responded, “That’s partly true…but, you paid to sit in your seat. You don’t get to keep your seat, we need it for the next passenger.” She looked at me, nodded at the cushion as if to say, “ok, take it, it’s your’s…”
Let me just say, I received some of the strangest looks from exiting passengers as I was trying to “steal” a seat bottom cushion from a homeless lady. I probably should have just let her have it. But, I had heard in recurrent training that there was this flight attendant from this other airline that got in trouble for allowing passengers to take seat bottom cushions…