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Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Strangeness That Is My People

We're an unusual group of people. Seriously, we are...and you know it. Specifically, at this particular blip of time, I'm referring kindly to my own kind. My own profession. We're odd. That can't be denied. Not odd as in strange. Well, now that I'm thinking about it, maybe I do mean strange. Yeah, I do. A little strange. I've been in this profession for 15 years. An Air Hostess. Trolley dolly. Stewardess. Stewardette (yep, I've been called that). Air Mattress. Steward. Flight Attendant. A nearly-all kind group of people. And some of the world's greatest friends. But strange. Odd. Weird. And I'm not sure what it is.

With any profession or group of people, there are typically common bonds that tie them together. They were all hired with certain skill sets or abilities. They possess particular traits or perhaps their personalities fit in well with the job which they are doing. Flight attendants are required to be prompt, never late...it's not tolerated. They are supposed to look good and take care of themselves. They are required to go through a horribly intensive five-week training school -- studying every single night, written tests nearly every day, tons of practical drills like fire fighting, emergency evacuations, and safety skills. They need to know how to problem solve, to calm, to bring tense situations to an even playing field. And, occasionally, they need to slap the you-know-what outta some total dweeb. But beyond all of the written, company-required job skills, there appears to be an unwritten, perhaps unknown or little understood, set of behaviors that creep among our type.

We chat. We love to chat and, more accurately, blather. Blather on and on, many times about nothing. You ask a simple question and you're there for, oh say, a day and a half or so getting the Wikipedia answer when all you really needed to know was what gate we were arriving at. Or maybe I feel obligated to ask about someone's husband or wife and I get the whole nine yards including the latest in therapy sessions and family drivel.

Many of we stews are on drugs. Not the good stuff. The stuff to calm us down. Pacify us. Make us able to get through the day. Happy pills. And we love our alcohol too. Numerous of my friends drink heavily. A few uncontrolled. Most just plenty. We go to therapists. We have far too numerous physical aches and pains to outline here -- many caused by our required lifting of overly heavy passenger bags, and all of the lifting, bending, stretching and twisting that goes along with 200-pound beverage carts. We go to acupuncturists. We go to psychiatrists. We go to the pharmacy regularly. We like our druggists.

We like attention because many of us don't get it elsewhere. We're a gaggle of misfits, many divorced or in unhealthy relationships. We're not at home enough for some. We're home far too much for others. Many mothers and fathers use their layover time to chill....."Me" time.... to get away from the kids and partners back at home. And some of us, just an extreme few thankfully, like to exert their ill-placed need to use authority at times -- "I told you to put that seatbelt down low and tight near your private parts!" or "If I have to ask you one more time to turn off that brand new iPhone 4, I'm a gunna shove it up to just about your hairy nipple line!" That sort of thing. And in spite of having a six-inch-thick company approved way of doing things, we are widely known for having an even better way to do it. Just ask us, we'll show you. We have little hangups like which side of the cart we have to have the juice cartons on, where the little stir sticks should be placed (I've got just the place, believe me....), or the need for placing those little pretzel snacks in the drawer with precise latitude and longitude markers aligned with GPS precision. We aren't well, I'm telling you.

Just this morning, I was on a crowded employee bus going from the employee parking lot to the airport terminal. We do it every day. We know each other. We do it over and over and over -- many of us for years now. For me, my day typically puts me on that bus between 4:30am-5:30am. It's early. It's dark much of the year. And most of the bus is eerily quiet. Except for the flight attendants. They banter back and forth. Loudly. While the make up is applied, or the bags are being dug through, or they try and decide if the new uniform is going to make their arse look big, or which restaurant they'll be going to that night in Puerto Vallarta. And people stare at them. Including me. I like that time for myself, for peace and quiet before what is always a busy day. But, honestly, it's like you put in a nickle and get back a quarter's worth. So, yeah, back to this morning -- I looked at the gal sitting next to me and remarked "Gawd, can't you just feel the oxygen being depleted in this bus." She concurred. How could she not?

But in spite of our weirdness, we're one hell of a fun-loving group. We like to have fun, party, eat dinner or happy hour together, and take walks together. Many of us include our co-workers in our list of good friends, including me. We text each other, see each other outside work, and do our best to take care of one another when necessary. And we even travel together on our days off. I'm not sure precisely what it is that lends us to being a bit of an odd group. Whatever it is, I think I'll gladly be a part of it for quite some time. Until the blue polyester pales, the shoes are worn from being on my feet all day, and the shiny wings on my uniform are tarnished. It's a good group of folks....in spite of their strangeness.

12 comments:

Trickle Down BS said...

Just think that not too long ago full service meals were offered in the shortest routes...
I think the most ridiculous one I ever encountered was the shuttle between Rio and Sao Paulo...it only takes 45 minutes and they will serve you lunch...go figure.
Some of us love to travel...I was with Sabre for many years and got all the flying benefits.
saludos,
raulito

Anne said...

*huge warm smile*

psychiatrists, drugs, drinking, therapy and "Me" time? sounds like a program meeting lot!!!!!

Lemuel said...

I liked this post. It gave us an insight into this world which is an insight into your world, Lewis. It conveyed that in this world of misfits and oddballs you all get along and care for each other. That made me sad. Why? Because I wished that the larger world - of misfits and oddballs all - could not get along and care for each other in the same way.

Rick said...

What would we do without you?

CJ/Rick said...

Ahhhh You wear makeup? I like this post

Greg said...

If a little strangeness weren't thrown in, wouldn't work be boring as heck? We always take a break to watch the ducks swimming in the little pond in our courtyard...from the windows in our office...and talk about them for 15 minutes before heading back to our computers.

Stephen said...

Nice post. I love to fly & I have never had a bad experience... well, I did have a Christian flight attendant on SW, who told me that she hated when the Pilot told the passangers that gthe Grand Canyon in 10 million years old. She claimed that this was not true, God created the Canyon 5000 years ago & it was formed by Noah's flood.

Ur-spo said...

lucky you to be part of such a wild and wonderful and wacky Tribe.

christopherc said...

Great commentary on you and your cohorts! However, you're only almost as strange as the rest of the population!

Michael Guy said...

Great post! My former was the midwest customer service manager for TWA. We knew lots and lots of airline folk and your observations are correct, i.e, getting 'a quarter's worth'...those folks knew how to toss a party. I miss those days...

My neighbor down the hall is a stew for AA and she's a delight; we can stand in the hall and jabber away an hour. I may not be a steward but I'm a damn Gemini... :)

Bridgeout said...

have i told you lately that i love "your people"?

Wayne said...

If you think 'your' group is a little strange, you should hang around 'my' group sometime. ;-)