09 July 2012

Age Is Really Just a Number

After being a dormant blogger for a while, I recently had two ladies on a flight that revived my writing. I am not easily impressed but frankly, they knocked my socks off.

Anny was a business class passenger on a recent flight from Frankfurt to San Francisco. She initially looked like she was going to be a handful, constant motion and requests. We sort of thought to ourselves, okay 8B will be our needy passenger today. Almost all flights have one, a passenger who needs far more than their time allotted time when you do the math of passengers to crew. We were fairly certain she was ' the one'.

The one she was , was one of the most interesting people I have had on a flight in quite some time. She would have not reached 5 feet tall in a pair of platform shoes, and soaking wet she may have been 80 pounds. She was also 91 years old. Traveling back from Madagascar, where she went to see lemurs. Alone.

She has restless leg syndrome, so Anny was in constant motion, the only time we could get her to sit still was when the seatbelt sign was on, and we only had partial success at that. She got a chance to practice her self taught Spanish with Sonia, our crew member from madrid who was very impressed. She also shared a banana with her, sadly not fresh from Africa but from the airport club.

Anny kept us busy between services with tales of her leaving Germany after the war, teaching school in San Francisco and her world travels. She also shared with us ways to save money, like bringing your own cup to coffee shops . We had to lean in to hear her speak, it was like being told a secret each time you spoke to her.

We all loved that her first plans when she got home were making appointments for a mani and pedi, as well as a haircut. Clearly her age did not remove her vanity, and I liked her a little more for that.

Tessa was the other person that wowed me on that flight. She looked to be in her early sixties, and was the senior crew member on the flight. Some of these ladies never manage to make it past the curtains to see the other cabins, much less offer to help out there. She popped back to business class several times , pouring wine, picking up and offering help here and there. Even more shocking was when she grabbed an economy cart and began to pick up back there. This happens about as often as a lunar eclipse .

She bucked the trend and not only did not glue herself to a jumpseat reading People magazine, but was in constant motion working everywhere.

My jaw dropped when I found out she started flying in 1961. Not only before I was born, but before my mother began her time as a stewardess. Wow. Double wow, when you factored in how naturally good she looked! There was no Beijing layover Botox to her, or Buenos Aires face lift. She was as fresh faces as I could ever hope to be. I wondered for a second if she was a witch, to look so good. Not only blessed with good genes, and a fabulous work ethic, she was as nice as I could ever wish to be. Damn her she was a triple threat stew !

I really hope to have both of these ladies back on the plane with me sometime soon. They , in their own way, made my nearly 11 hour flight fly by. They reminded me not to judge a book by its cover "Potentially Needy" or "Senior Mama Works Only First Class". Ladies, you humbled me!!

08 April 2012

You Can Leave Your Pants On....No Really!!

Dear 1K,
 I can appreciate that many of you like to get comfy on all night flights, really I do. Some airlines give out pajamas, some people carry sweatpants with them to change into, or in the case of a man on a JFK flight once, a floor length nightgown.

The difference between those people and you is that they went into the lavatory to get changed. You caught me a little off guard when you started to take off your pants.

Lucky for you....the view was not unpleasant.

22 March 2012

Overhead in Economy

Passenger: Is this an ATM ?
Flight Attendant: No sir, that is what is referred to as an aircraft door.

Somethings give me laughs days after they happen, this is one of those things.

05 February 2012

Dear 1J

Dear 1J,

I sympathized with your gastro- intestinal order on the flight last night, really I did. After an unfortunate run in with a Ditsch pizza from Frankfurt Airport some time ago, I was in your same proverbial place. What I did not do however, was bring a hardcover book into the toilet with me... I really don't care if you have a bookshelf installed in your bathroom at home, the SHARED toilets on a jet are not a place to linger.

ps- the 8 bags of potato chips you are along with the 4 candy bars probably did not help your situation any..

10 November 2011

Overheard in the Galley

Random Flight Attendant: Does anyone want some chlamydias?
Rest of the crew : WHAT?!?!?!
Random Flight Attendant: Oh, I think I meant to say clementines...

And I'm back !!

10 August 2011

A Little Family Stuff

Sorry for the blog languishing. 'BoyWhoFlies' has a father dying of leukemia so we are in France trying to take care of things. Photos and stories of Brittany as well as crazy pilots coming soon. Thanks for your patience!

15 April 2011

The Kaiser

Sometimes people in our profession get a little 'colorful' the longer they fly. Maybe it is all that time trapped in a confined space, maybe it is the lack of consistent coworkers who know you well enough to pull your mental kite back to earth, or maybe we just encourage the general nuttiness of others we work with because, frankly, it is fun to watch. I have flown with a pilot who covers himself in linen to protect from radiation, flight attendants who beleive in elves and gnomes ( yes seriously) and people whose imagined past and present could not possibly be accomplished in their years on earth .

I recently flew with one of these colorful types, she was an 'extra' which means she is a random flight attendant working with us who is not based where the bulk of the crew is. When she lumbered into briefing, she looked as if she had been walking 20 miles, or dragged behind a train. This was the start of her day, at a not particularly early hour, even for her time zone. She was, of course the most senior... which meant she worked mostly alone in first class.

Her name was Swedish, and close enough in sound to Kaiser that our purser had named her that before we took off. She ate enough cocktail nuts during boarding that I heard her remark, "Well that saves us offering seconds to the passengers". Translation, she ate a whole metal tin of nuts, the size of a paperback book. Her balloonlike proportions and puffiness began to make sense. She continued to eat whatever was not nailed down, all while the rest of us were racing around hanging coats, offering newspapers and drinks to everyone.

I was sitting on the jumpseat next to her for takeoff, and of course due to the weather the captain asked us to stay seated until he called us. She had a captive audience... Some people in our job have a tendency to overshare far to soon, personal details and secrets with people who really don't want to know or care. Before the captain released me from my captivity I was regaled with how she had sold her home because there was a sinkhole on the property, evicted from her rental condo and was now living with her 30 year old unemployed daughter in the basement of a friend who is alcoholic, weights 350 pounds and had 4 cats, one of which poops everywhere. She felt her explosive diarrhea of the past seven days was related to the poopy cat. Did I mention I was seated a foot from she of the loose bowels?? I would have chewed through the jumpseat harness if I thought I could have escaped.

Later on in the flight she shared how she had formerly flown for Pan Am, and had been based in Honolulu. She felt that was when, by her own admission, she started to become eccentric. The purser remarked she must have been based there a very long time..We also learned she had been the person who qualified the Pan Am crew in Swedish ( gave them the test to assure they were fluent in that language, and could make announcements onboard), was trained as a surgeon, and owned a restaurant that had burned down. Well, her surgical experience was actually medical school, and even that was up for debate.

She mostly flew trips to China and Japan . She told us her layovers in Tokyo consisted of eating carrots, and that she was going to Fukushima to write a paper on the effects of radiation on civilians nearby. Good thing she had that background in surgery...She never made clear why she would only eat carrots there, the answer would have probably not cleared it up in any case.

Her layovers in China were spent shopping an average of 400 dollars per week on 'all sorts of junk' for her kids and friends. She also told us she got her hair done there, at which point the acerbic purser asked if it had been a long time since she had had a Beijing trip? Again the surgery came into play as she mentioned she had a Chinese doctor, who, when she drew a picture of her body and circled what ailed her, he would remove that body part. Yes, surgery real or imagined on the layover. Based on her size, she was not drawing pictures of unwanted jiggly thighs.

She said she had been as skinny as a rail until last year when the cortisone shots have her "all this" ( gestures my lifting up and shaking her belly fat). I am sure the constant eating was just a coincidence.

The Kaiser asked us why her bank was not paying her interest on the part of her savings account she had withdrawn. I really had no idea how to answer that one, but her fiscal sensibility or lack of became obvious when she said she was moving back to Sweden as they had the lowest taxes in the world.

She also shared her relationship past, presumable when she had a better fighting form that she did now. She swore she had dated Bill Cosby, and he could not accept when she broke up with him. That was when she had to flee Hawaii. She them married a stalker, who she is now on friendly terms with.

Kaiser ate any crew meal that had not been grabbed, I think someone missed out on theirs when they stopped in the toilet on their way to the galley, she viewed it as unclaimed merchandise . She ate a pork entree which she said was delicious and well worth the 'sh*ts' is caused. Really??? Oh my God I was going to have to sit on the jumpseat after she ate that meal for landing.

The landing was spent telling me how she was going to live with her son, whose rent she would pay as his girlfriend was unemployed, like her daugher, whose rent she was also paying for a year when she was finally able to evict her from the basement they shared.

When the flight was over, the rest of were in tears laughing all the way to the hotel, sharing our Kaiser stores. Please let me retire before I get this loony. Please...