Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The glamour of flying

It doesn't get much more "back in the day" than this photo, does it?

One time on an American Airlines flight from Narita to Chicago I met Shirley the flight attendant. She was an overweight white woman in her fifties or so and was obviously a senior flight attendant. Let me tell you, Shirley does not take jack beanstalk from anyone. "You don't touch me, you TALK to me" in response to a Japanese passenger tapping her on the shoulder. I'm pretty sure she actually asked other passengers to help her stuff luggage into the overhead compartments. Shirley is not the living picture of long-legged glamour; she represents "service with a sneer" to a T, the archetypal complaint material of businessmen who only fly Asian airlines and still call them "stewardesses."

However, as cranky and culturally shocking as Shirley was to me (I'd gotten used to petite and demure Japanese cabin crews who bow to you), she inspired me in a huge way by snapping "Are you a flight attendant?" when I stacked the food trays before handing them to her. Puzzled and flattered, I asked why she thought I was a flight attendant, to which she replied curtly "I dunno, you just seem like you know what you're doing."

What if instead of settling down like a good adult after my homecoming, I ran off again, this time in hopes of snatching some residual glamour from the rare sparks and flashes that remain somewhere in the earth's skies? For every songless land whale requiring a seat belt extender or stinking pile of baby vomit, there must be SOME perk that keeps flight attendants from committing suicide every day. I think I'd like to find out what it is.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting post.

    What are the perks for flight attendants now? Free flights? The pay is not great. Service industries are tough on the mind and body. Maybe they just like to travel?


What's up?