Sometimes, at the end of a very long day with endless delays and aggravated people, my passengers ask me how I can continue to smile amongst the grumpy, bitter, and exhausting environment. I claim my stick-on smile is produced by Botox injections. My passengers laugh, my co-workers laugh, and I laugh the hardest knowing that I live a smidge over the poverty line. I couldn’t afford Botox if I sold my unfertilized baby eggs to a reality show and ate half-priced, dented canned pinto beans for a year.
Some people call flight attending a glorified cocktail waitress. I beg to differ. When you’re at a bar and someone starts giving you trouble, you can just call over the bouncer and he’ll throw the guy out. But when you’re 30,000 feet in the air floating around the atmosphere in a tin can, it’s a solo face-off between you and Mr. “Hey Jugs! Get me another drink!”
I’m very considerate about the temperature in the cabin; I like making my passengers cozy. Mostly though, I cannot stand re-folding the blankets left on the seats right when everyone deplanes—especially when I have to re-fold the ones that are still warm after deplane. Every airline has the same standard with the cleanliness of the blankets: they get washed once a week and used by at least 20-50 people during that time. I swear to God if there’s ever another potential virus epidemic of any kind, they’ll trace it right back to those covers and head cushions.
I could dedicate an entire article to lavatory bathrooms, but why? It’s just too easy. I would, however, like to address those who are trying to be sneaky about joining the Mile High Club: you’re not fooling anyone. Ladies, have some class and wait for the hotel room where it smells better and contains a billion less germs. Unlike your BF’s penis, that just collided with the blue lagoon water as you tried to disrobe in the piggy back position, since it was the only way to fit in there comfortably.
But for those of you who won’t listen—and I know there are plenty of you out there who will continue to make my job harder by attempting to join the Mile High Club—rest assured knowing you’re well taken care of in the unlikely event of a loss of cabin pressure. Seriously, it’s always safety first on the aircraft, and there really are two oxygen masks that will fall from the panel above your head in the bathroom. And you’ll be stuck in there, so when the plane finally lands and medical rushes on board, you’ll both be waiting naked in the lav donning only a yellow plastic margarine cup. It’s not worth it.
After a long delayed, tedious day, flight attendants get about the same amount of respect as bus drivers, only we smile through all the stupid repetitive questions, and again, cannot kick you off the bus, as it roars through the stratosphere at 500 miles an hour. However, I grow more and more anxious for the day when there will be internet usage on the aircraft. After NASA is through blowing shit up in space with that giant laser, they may want to hook up with Google and remind the public they’re still useful—because if I have to answer, “Do you know if my connecting flight has left without me yet?” one more time….
It’s amazing how so many adults turn into children when they’re on the plane. I hear, “How much more time ‘til we land?” all the time, which is the equivalent of, “Are we therrre yet?” Kids however, I adore having them on my plane. Everything is so new to them, so awesome, and it reminds you how it felt being a kid. It’s just one big adventure, almost as cool as going to Disney World, even if it’s only a 15-minute flight to Ft. Wayne, Indiana.
Much like any trade, the airline industry is based on a seniority hierarchy. The longer you’ve been there, the easier it is. So when you’re brand new, it’s a little above being an intern and a little below golf caddy (caddies get paid more). Basically, in the beginning you’re on reserve, which means when someone more senior to you is sick/hungover, you get their trip series. You’re basically a pledge that lives off Red Bull out of fear of falling asleep, and when you get the call telling you to be at the airport at 5am you reply with, “Thank you sir, may I have another?”
Lots of people ask me if there’s a lot of inter-office dating going on, and I have to confirm that there is. The environment is a lot like Grey’s Anatomy, only instead of operating on people, we operate 30 million dollar aircrafts. And by we, I mean the pilots—the only thing I operate is the beverage cart.
The closest industry to college life has got to be the airlines, because of crashpads. Basically it’s a form of living for people who are based in one city for work, and call a different city home. Essentially 100 bucks a month buys you an air mattress on the floor. You’d think by the time you hit 25, living with 10 other guys in a 2-bedroom and communal shower would have lost its appeal, but no, the natural gravitation toward male bonding over beer, videogames, and Dave Chappelle remains strong and unwavering long after the days of college are long gone.
Crashpadding for girls is a lot different. It’s not like a sorority house where you have at least another room or ten to have some space to yourself when you need it. Everything in the fridge is labeled and separated. Jewelry is stored in secret hiding places and padlocked. And if you want to bring a guy home you have to ask 8 other girls’ permission, depending on who’s going to be home that night. It’s kinda like paying rent to live in a women’s correctional facility, and I want nothing to do with it.
Overall though, I do enjoy my job. Mostly I enjoy being able to fly down to Florida or Mexico on my three days off a week for the grand price of zero dollars. Which is why I’m really smiling as I assist you with your bag that’s too big to fit in the overhead bin as you travel to exotic places like Sioux Falls, South Dakota.