Category Archives: Flight Attendant

Stinky

I must have mentioned before that my least favorite part of my job is not dealing with difficult passengers.  It’s dealing with difficult flight attendants.  The passengers come and go, but when I work with someone that is difficult, I’m stuck with them for 3 days.

Usually the problem is laziness.  It’s like pulling teeth to get certain co-workers off their asses to do anything.  They just want to sit and read.  Or worse, stand in the galley and talk about themselves.  They’ll make sarcastic comments like, “Oooo, look at the super stew.” This is the response I get for answering a call button immediately instead of letting the passenger sit and wait and re-ring it several times.  To their credit, they are so tuned-out that they didn’t even hear the call button.  But, this wasn’t the problem with a male flight attendant who shall be known as Stinky.

Stinky falls into the category of flight attendants who have personal hygiene issues.  Stinky is a nice guy.  He really is.  I have flown with him before and enjoyed it.  Clearly, for Stinky, things have changed.  On my way to the gate, I saw Stinky and didn’t even recognize him.  His hair is grown out and rather unkempt.  He has a beard.  And the uniform…  Oy.  Ill-fitting and dirty.  He was wearing slip-on athletic shoes that his roommate left behind, “They looked fine to me, so I took ’em.  They did have an odd smell though…(chuckle, chuckle)”

And did they ever.  Stinky was wearing what I can only assume were decades-old, white socks.  I’m not sure if the smell was coming from the socks or the dirty brown shoes.  But, he was completely unfazed by them.  He insisted on crossing his leg with his foot pointing directed at me.  Despite my vigorous fanning with a safety information card, he never seemed to get the clue.  I like this guy, actually, and I just didn’t have the heart to practice my recent decision to be more direct.  I tried.  I just couldn’t tell him.  What can I say, I’m a work in progress.  That’s why I blog.

On top of the shoes, Stinky used an old-school brown hanky to blow his nose into and then stuff back into his pocket.  He did this several times a flight.  That is something my grandpa would do.  I thought it was gross then, and now it just seems downright unsanitary.  Although, considering that he picked his nose on the jump-seat and hocked loogies into the trash while he was pouring drinks, I don’t know why I didn’t expect him to also reuse the same hanky for three days.  I mean, it only makes sense.

I totally forgot the best part about stinky.  He cross-dresses.  Talk about an interesting mix.  He is an über-dude with a mountain-man beard, unkempt hair, poor hygiene, who likes to duct-tape his man-breasts together to make some cleavage and put on a fabulous pair of pumps.  eh-hem. Nobody puts baby in a corner…  or a box.  Stereotypes be damned!  Maybe this is why I like the guy.  He just is.  Take him or leave him.  Although, that doesn’t mean he has chosen an appropriate career path.

My airline is in the process of changing our uniforms a bit.  They are making the futile attempt of making the flight attendants look nicer.  One of the changes is that we can no longer wear brown dress shoes, only black.  Stinky informed me that he had a nice pair of combat boots at home that he probably was going to wear.  They were black after all.  Oh Stinky, he’s trying.

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Give me that phone…So I can whack you over the head with it!

I’ve been rather silent on my blog lately.  We’ve established that.  For those of you that remember, I have lots of issues with electronics–cell phones in particular.  I love electronics, but I hate the way people abuse them.  Instead of linking you to my past posts, I have created a nice bullet list of my biggest peeves…

  • Please, please, please do not talk on your phone while you’re in a public restroom.  Especially if you are two feet from me, don’t say, “No, I’m not doing anything…”
  • If you’re going to text, at least have the consideration to step to the side of the sidewalk.  Definitely don’t try to cross the street and text at the same time.
  • Why would you ever drive and text?  I don’t care how good you think you are at multi-tasking.  eh-hmm.
  • Just because you are talking on your private cell phone does not mean that you are in a private place.  Conversations, including break-ups, should wait until you are alone.  The worst place to break-up with someone over the phone is while you are on a public bus.
  • If you are in a movie, just turn the fucking thing off.  Really? You are going to pay $12 to watch an average movie, not to mention the $10 for snacks, and you are not even going to watch it?

Oh, that always feels so good to get it out.  Good therapy.  I’ve really been working at just minding my own business.  I really have.  This one issue just gets under my skin.  It’s the worst on the airplane, which is probably source of these issues anyway.  I’ve taken to just ignoring those who ignore me.  If you have your cell phone to your ear while you walk on the plane, talk to ya later.  If you aren’t willing to take your earbuds out of your ears when I am trying to get your drink order, and you just keep saying “what?”  Next. If I have time later, I’ll come back.

I’ve decided that since I can’t change anyone else’s behavior, I’ll change mine.  It’s my goal the next time someone decides to talk on their cell in the neighboring stall to develop a bad case of the dry heaves.  I mean gut-wrenching.  That’ll shut him up, right?  If someone wants to talk about their girlfriend’s weird-shaped vagina on the J-Church MUNI train, fine.  I’m going to record it with my new voice recording app on the iPhone.  And, yes, there’s an app for that.  I may even post it on this blog, we’ll see how juicy it gets.  Perhaps that was a bad choice of words…  I totally just grossed myself out.

I’ve already asked numerous people in the row in front of me to stop texting or talking on their phone during the movie.  If that doesn’t work, I move.   I’m up for suggestions.  I think we are a creative bunch of people.  Let’s take down these rudey-rudersons one cell phone at a time!  The one thing I would like to do the most is grab their phone out of their hands and whack ’em over the noggin with it.  But, that would be rude.

Don't Do It!!! :-)  Seriously.

Don't Do It!!! 🙂 Seriously.

UPDATE:  I no sooner finished this post when I came across this gem.  MSNBC reported on a girl who fell into an open manhole while texting.  I’d to hear your comments on this one–both raunchy and G-rated.  The possibilities are endless.

Entertaining the Masses

Many of you may have already seen this clip of a Southwest Airlines flight attendant rapping his opening PA.  Clearly entertaining and creative, David Holmes has generated some cyber-buzz.  Kudos to David!  He’s entertaining people and sharing important safety information all in one.  He’s not the first SWA flight attendant to sing or even to rap.  So I’m not sure why a local Dallas news station found this to be news. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that he enjoys his job and that he works for a company that embraces this sort of thing.  If I had been on that flight, I probably would have been stomping and clapping right along with everybody else.

My issue is this:  Why do people need to be entertained in order for them to listen to important safety information? In the news article someone is quoted as saying, “That’s the first time I’ve ever listened to the emergency instructions.”  What???? I’m not sure that I’d admit to that if I were you.  This is essential information about the airplane and crew to which you are trusting your life.  As a flight attendant, I’ve never understood why people, in general, don’t pay attention.  I guess I should clarify, they do pay attention, but only after they hear about an airplane crash.  It’s sad, but just plain true.

After 9/11 people paid very close attention for a few weeks.  After US Airways flight 1549 went down in the Hudson, they paid attention to the life vest portion of the announcement.  However, if there is anything that we should learn from that accident, it’s that people do survive crashes.  I hear people say all the time that if the plane goes down “we’re all dying anyway,” followed by some other bit of “wisdom.”  That attitude is biggest mistake anyone could make.  I’m providing a link here to a site providing airline crash statistics.  The key fact is that people survive.  So why wouldn’t you want to pay attention?

Again, kudos to David for finding a way to make crucial safety information a must-hear event.  And shame on those of you who had to rely on being entertained in order to pay attention.

Disconnect to Reconnect

It’s been several weeks since I read a very interesting and thought provoking NY Times article by Ben Stein. The article really grabbed my attention and gave me an idea. This happens sometimes, I get an idea and need to let it simmer for several weeks until it is cooked to perfection. Sometimes I have so many ideas simmering that they start to blend together and form a disgusting murky stew of thought. This time around, however, I’ve been very focused on one thing. Like a series of kitchen timers going off at random moments, its bells have kept me focused on every call, every text, every email, every thing my iPhone keeps track of. It is constantly demanding my attention, and I have mixed feelings about it.

We, as collective group of technologically driven people, like to think that our portable electronic devices have minds of their own. We take great joy in using the adjective intuitive to describe them. A good software program knows what we want before we even know what we want. It can even give us choices if we want. These devices enhance our lives and help keep us organized, connected, and entertained. However, they also do a really good job of sequestering us from the world around us. They distract us from a distracting world.

Cell phones, in particular, are this way. If we aren’t talking on them, we are texting on them. I think that in our efforts to stay connected, we are actually being disconnected from our immediate environment. This is acutely evident when people drive, talk, and text; and it’s why there are so many cell phone related car accidents. Not to mention train accidents, in San Francisco alone this year I know of at least three train accidents that involved a conductor and a cell phone. We are the ones in control, though. We have to choose to turn those devices on, although in some cases our devices know to turn themselves on. We can most certainly, however, choose to turn them off. Or, even more simply, let the call go to voice mail.

I witness this struggle that occurs when one tries to “disconnect” from their world on a regular basis. At work, every time I make the announcement to “turn off and stow all electronic devices” there is a collective state of denial that permeates the entire airplane. I guess that before they can officially enter denial I must first get their attention. And that is no easy task. Sometimes I have to stand directly over them and speak to them personally, since they missed the numerous and repetitive PA’s. That’s really when the denial sets in. I can almost hear them thinking, “Oh, he’s not talking to me, I don’t need to turn it off,” or better yet, “maybe if I just ignore him, pretend not to hear him, I’ll be OK.” Even some of my co-workers have an extremely difficult time with this moment of disconnect. I see them struggling to get that one last test message out before we take off.

I witnessed the cashier at my grocery store attempt to text on her phone and scan groceries at the same time. It was a multi-tasking sight to see. It got me thinking that maybe I don’t want to be this kind of person. I don’t want to be kind of guy that walks down the street and texts at the same time. Maybe I don’t even want to be the kind of guy that is always wearing his iPod headphones. I want to be more present than that. I want to notice the changes in the world around me. I want to be open and engaging to people. Not off in some electronic world of distraction.

Granted, I’m obviously not opposed using to cell phones and iPods and laptops. But we need to take back the reins. We are the ones in control of our devices. We need to make them work for us. We need to know when to turn them off, or to ignore them. If we can’t grasp that, then we are being controlled by them. In many ways electronics are the modern drug of choice. We use them to medicate and detach. It’s easier to deal with the world if you are detached from it. And, as a society, we are addicted. Fortunately for us, unlike most drugs, we can quite literally just turn it off.

Preacher’s Wife

WTF. That’s the first thing that came to mind when I read this article about Victoria Osteen. A pastor’s wife who pushed and elbowed a flight attendant over a stain on her first-class seat. Now, due to the nature of this case–a flight attendant suing a pastor’s wife–you might assume that I would automatically side with the flight attendant. And, initially, I did. I thought, “How dare Mrs. Osteen act so un-Christian?” and “What a bitch! She deserves to pay.” These were my thoughts until I read the whole article. Tucked away nicely at the end is this little gem:

“According to court documents, Brown says that she suffers from anxiety and hemorrhoids because of the incident involving Victoria Osteen and said her faith was affected. She is also suing Victoria Osteen for medical expenses for counseling.”

–cnn.com

Hemorrhoids??? She seriously is blaming Victoria Osteen for her hemorrhoid problem. As much as I want to wag my finger in Mrs. Osteen’s face, I just can’t get over the fact that this flight attendant is blaming this situation for her hemorrhoids. Wow. That’s a whole new level of crazy.

Oh, Granny!

Wow. So, I have a new experience to tuck into my belt. Yesterday I was pimped out by a grandma. Not my G-ma, as you may have read about, but from an elderly passenger on the plane. It was all so subtle that I almost didn’t catch on at first.

My loyal readers know by now that I love me some old people. Kids are cute, but I’d rather have an 85 year old any day. I can’t help it. And, I usually have them huggin’ on me by the end of the flight. In fact–side story here–there once was an elderly lady who poked my ass in that “sir, I need something” sort of way. I turned and asked her if she needed anything and she replied, “Oh no, I was just checkin’.” Oh, Granny! I kept my eye on that one for sure.

But, back to the granny at hand. We had the standard exchanges. She asked me several questions about myself. We shared the normal granny hand pats and kisses on the cheeks, and then she asked, “Do you ever get out to the east coast?”

“Sure.”

“I’m from Greensboro, North Carolina, and my family is there too.”

“Is that close to Raleigh-Durham?”

“Yes. And I would like to give you this…”

This is the point at which she discreetly handed me the name and number of her grandson on a little piece of paper. Now, from previous conversations over several hours I understood that she had a “special” grandson. Of course, I speak “granny” so I know that “special” means “homosexual.” And since I also speak “Christianese,” I know that “homosexual” means “gay.” It can also be translated as “nelly queen” or “queer-o.” It just depends on the usage. Some days it really helps to be multi-lingual.

Maybe times are a-changin’. I never thought I’d see the day when a granny would try to set me up with her grandson. That final conversation happened just as she was getting off the airplane. I didn’t get the opportunity to tell her that I’m very happy with Jeff. I guess it doesn’t really matter. It was just nice to see a granny who loves her grandson so much. Maybe I’ll call my granny today.

Good Vibes

Today was totally a lesson in sending out good vibes. I worked with my all-time favorite captain. Her name is Jan, and she is absolutely wonderful. I want to be her when I grow up. She’s one of those obsessively optimistic and upbeat people that just seem to find the best in every person. When you talk to her you just can’t help but smile. It’s infectious. Yes, at first, she can be overwhelming. But, after awhile you see that it’s coming from a totally honest place. She really does want to brighten your day.

On the other end of the spectrum, I was also working with a flight attendant who had the complete opposite energy/vibe–totally icy and a mute, really. It made for a very interesting day. And it made me think, who am I or how am I? Do I make people wanna smile? Or, do I make people wanna avoid me? Do I brighten people’s day? Or, do I drag them down?




Hmm. That’s a tough one. Maybe I’m bipolar, but, I can easily go both ways. Some days I’m way up and some days I’m way down. I wish I had the persistent upbeat-ness of Captain Jan. I’m afraid, though, that I don’t. It doesn’t always come natural for me to be friendly and smile. I guess that’s why I created my mantra which I haven’t talked about for awhile, but still recite almost daily. Be kind, be generous, be honest…be kind, be generous, be honest. I don’t want to walk around with a scowl on my face so I also tell myself to “soften” my expression as I’m heading down the street.

It’s amazing to me that when you place a smile or at least a pleasant expression onto your face, it works itself inward. Some days I’m all bent out of shape over life and have to really force that damn smile onto my face. But, if I persist…eventually I feel better inside. I know that I’m sounding all warm and fuzzy today, but it’s true. Those who smile a lot and laugh a lot feel better on the inside. And I’m all for feeling better on the inside. It’s a slippery slope that leads downward toward being a total grump. You have to fight it–unless, of course you have a chronically happy disposition like Captain Jan.


So, that’s just a thought for today. Sometimes being happy takes work. You’ve gotta laugh and you’ve gotta smile. Don’t make me come over there and beat that smile outta ya. I will… and I ain’t frontin’.