Let’s All Become Flight Attendants and Complain!
(It’s satire folks!)
Hear ye! Hear ye! After many years of relying on dinosaur flight attendants, it seems the airlines are once again adding new hires into this most exclusive of clubs. Are you good with people? If so, then pick up the phone and see if you can get an interview with a computerized screener robot who can determine if you have the verbal skills necessary for this socially demanding job. You have to start somewhere and talking to a hard drive is a good first cut. If you are lucky enough to be selected, then after just six short weeks in an indoctrination center, a place with so many cameras that Aldous Huxley and Edward Snowden would be impressed, you’ll head out to the city of the airline’s choice. You won’t make much money, but all the fun codependant roommates you’ll have (four to a bedroom!) will surely make up for it. You’ve heard about all the perks, right? They’re all true to be sure, but what few people seem to mention are all the diverse ways that you’ll have to practice whining, moaning, griping, and grumbling. You know, that thing that humans just love to do during their short life on this planet. So everyone! Let’s all become flight attendants and complain!!!
What a glamorous life, right? Lunch in Chicago and dinner in Rome. Boyfriend in San Francisco on Tuesday and boyfriend in Madrid on Wednesday. Meet movie stars out of Los Angeles, take tango lessons in Buenos Aires, attend a tea ceremony in Tokyo, climb the Great Wall in Beijing and sail up the Loire Valley in France. Well, after you work for many many years a really cool gag is to grab a plastic bag, go through the cabin collecting trash, and when you get to the back of the plane look at your coworkers, open the trash, smile conspiratorially, and say “Thirty years on this job and I’m still looking for the glamour!” LOL! That’s SO funny! Then upon disembarking in Paris, instead of going all the way through French immigration and customs, wonder aloud how they expect you to descend the two flights of stairs, with your six bags, all the way down to the bus waiting just for you and your crew mates on the tarmac. It’s an accident waiting to happen! Even after an hour and a half drive to the hotel in traffic, the rooms will probably still not be ready immediately, so groan a bit and walk all the way up the avenue to get a warm chocolate croissant from the boulangerie. What a pain. If only you worked in a cubicle you could just mosey on down the hall to the metal snack cart by the elevators and get a danish wrapped in cellophane. There is always one crew member on every trip who decides to become ambitious, get a quick nap and head for the Louvre or to the Eiffel Tower for a picnic. Good for them! Let’s not us do that though! Let’s slam our doors and not reappear until it’s time to go back to work the next morning. Maybe there’s some glamour on CNN International. Hey, there might even be news from Paris!
There’s nothing like the sight of fresh foreign language speaking college students coming aboard to join us in the flight attendant profession. Oh! They are so naive in their idealism! So earnest and hopeful. Aren’t they just adorable? Don’t ya just want to squeeze them? Well, let’s not delay in disabusing them of their starry eyed notions of meeting fabulous people across the whole wide world. We need to break them in and there’s no better time than the boarding process. “Look at that woman with the huge bag. She better not ask me to help her!” “Keep an eye on that guy. He wanted an upgrade. He’ll probably try to sneak into Business Class.” “OMG, someone around row 25 really smells!” “Hey, who put their bag in with the emergency equipment?!” Be sure to teach your fledgling the most important goal of the boarding process: finding the one person who is going to spoil your whole flight and reconfirm your belief that all humans are idiots. Then march to the back of the plane and proclaim to the flight attendants hiding out in the galley – “FYI! I can tell you right now that 17D is a real ass! I already told him that we don’t have extra pillows and blankets so don’t anyone get him one!” If your new hire starts chatting with an enthusiastic French high school class or a college student whose is working with Somali refugees in Kenya, remind them that you once liked people too. If you say it with enough condecension it practically counts as much as a complaint.
Although you will rarely have a boss watching you for your entire work life, don’t forget that a passenger could write a letter to the company and that’s pretty intimidating. Maybe they will say you had a bad tone in your voice or something and then your “supervisor” will call you in to ask “what do you know about this?” After you introduce yourself, think fast on your feet and say your don’t remember the incident. Wow, that was a close call! So nerve wracking how the company intimidates you. And if dealing with the passengers is difficult, dealing with your fellow flight attendants is downright impossible. You might manage to make it through an entire trip with Doris the Drama Queen or Max the Misanthrope or Olly the Obsessive Compulsive but you’ll only have to work with them all over again in, like, six months or a year. If only you worked with them every day you might have the chance to work things through and figure out how everyone else could be doing their job better. Oh, and did I forget Gertie the Gossip? Flight attendants may indeed confirm the stereotype of being socially intelligent, but my goodness, how they will talk behind your back and spread gossip! Go to the front of the plane and tell Blanche how you think Daphne must have put on ten pounds, and then head to the back of the plane and tell Daphne how you heard that Blanche’s boyfriend is sleeping with another flight attendant (no names!). It’s just disgraceful!! Why, why do we all have to be so callous with one another I just don’t know. You know, Scarlet told everyone that she thinks Amber’s husband must be gay (can you believe it?!) and now Ann told me that Amber refuses to fly with Scarlet, let alone talk to her, and I can’t say I blame her. To top it off, I know for a fact that Scarlet is addicted to Valium. Just watch, right before her break she has to bring her purse into the bathroom, and if you pay attention, afterward you can see that she acts a little weird. It get’s boring on the plane for so many hours so make sure you cause some gratuitous melodrama to pass the time away. Then run up to the lead flight attendant, just as if they were your kindergarten teacher and try to get them to side with you. That’s what they are paid a wee bit extra for!
Make sure you and your fellow flight attendants spend at least five minutes griping about how the reading lights and audio aren’t working at 27C and 33H. “They expect us to use passenger names in the premium cabins, but they can’t be bothered to fix the electronics in the coach seats!” Then, promptly forget to write up the problem in the log book. Hey, If you are lucky, maybe you’ll get this plane again tomorrow! And maybe your flight will even cancel and you can stay home and attend your neighborhood block party instead of getting paid. I’m sure your neighbors will confirm how unfair it all is.
And speaking of parties, it’s amazing how flight attendants are always the center of attention. Everyone loves to hear stories of how idiotic people can be, especially when you get them all together in a narrow tube for hours. Did someone really ask you what language they speak in England? Did someone really try to open the bathroom by pulling out the ashtray on the door? (One brave soul might admit that they did that!) Or we can talk about all the times we nearly died. The thing is though, the average person doesn’t realize how hard it is being a flight attendant!! No, we aren’t just flight attendants! We are paramedics, firemen, diplomats, psychologists, travel agents, mechanics. concierge, waiters, air marshalls, sanitation engineers, and on and on…uuggggh! It’s exhausting. Then after work we have to somehow fight our constant jetlag by sleeping in the middle of the day. If this is at a layover hotel we might be lucky enough to be awoken on the day the “Fire Drill Practice” is scheduled, or listen to the pleasant droning of the elevated train or highway which can only be heard on our side of the building. If we try to sleep at home its usually not better either. That dang roofer is up there pounding the new shingles in…what the hell!…doesn’t he know that it’s twenty below zero and the wind is howling at forty miles an hour? D’oh! He should call in sick! That’s what I do. And in the summer I like to contemplate what a doofus the lawn mower man is to be cutting the grass while I try to sleep. The roar of the engine can clearly be heard over the constant din of your central air conditioner. For God’s sake doesn’t he know it is nearly one hundred degrees outside? Well, I’m not getting up to get him him a glass of water with ice. Not after I’ve been doing that all night on the plane. He can drink from the hose!
Instead of doing “walk throughs” in the cabin every fifteen minutes to make sure everyone is OK, or to meet someone new (you’ve got to be kidding), or that there are no nefarious security issues, one amusing way to spend endless hours on the jumpseat is to focus on how evil the airline management is. Their sole purpose in life is to the suck the marrow out of your bones and leave nothing but a soulless shell of a human being. They are just so greeeeeedy! They have no moral compass like those titans of commerce in, say, banking, or food processing, or oil and gas production who work tirelessly trying to make a better life for their employees, the general public and their shareholders. If you are lucky, your company might go bankrupt and the evil management will get their comeuppance and receive only a $10 million dollar golden parachute instead $20 million dollars. Let’s hope they starve! For awhile you’ll have a vestige of hope that the new management will actually treat their employees like they are human beings. But No! Seems they are all the same! LOL! What were we thinking?! Oh well, that’s all right. It feels so good to be full of that old familiar sense of self righteousness. What if we ever had something nice to say about someone in management? Cut out my tongue! Well, no worries…that’s impossible!
Haven’t you all heard endless pining from people you meet about how great it must be to get flight benefits? We just walk on a plane whenever we want to go anywhere we want! Well, LOL, I don’t think so! I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to do on my vacation is to see another airport! Good God! After we have finagled our way to stretching our vacation into three and a half weeks (that’s not going to last), let’s drive to visit our dysfunctional half sister Freda (what a bitch), Willard (womanizer) and their three uncontrollable spoiled brats for vacation. We can complain the whole time we are there, plus rant about it for weeks after we return to work. It’s just impossible to non-rev these days anyway. With all the upgrades there is no way of knowing if you’ll get first class and there is no way I’m going anywhere in coach. Puuleeassse.
Now everyone knows that being a flight attendant is not a “real” job, so of course, don’t make plans on doing this for more than five years before you find your true life’s calling. Right around the time that you hear yourself telling your colleagues just how much you can’t stand this job and how you’ve grown to hate people, take advantage of the work time flexibility to try something like nursing, real estate, or teaching. You may find that at the hospital when someone rings their call bell they don’t just want a diet coke – it seems their bed pan is leaking, they just threw up on them self or they need more pain relief from the aching cancer in their bones. Cardio-pulmonary resuscitation? A daily occurrence if you are doing a shift on the cardiac floor. You’ll be so good at this because you already had so much experience using automatic electronic defibrillators on passengers with heart attacks (too many to count). And doesn’t selling homes sounds exciting? More fun with entitled people who have totally unrealistic expectations about what life owes them. As a flight attendant you may have 44 days on reserve every year, but as a realtor you can sit around staring at the phone and waiting for it to ring 365 days/year. That’s about an 8x increase! Then surely, just as most folks are free to go house hunting after work, you can drop your dinner plans to drive across town during rush hour to show a home to people “just looking.” If teaching is your career diversion of choice you may notice how every spare minute outside the classroom is spent making lesson plans and correcting papers or exams. This is a bit like your flight attendant job where you are always thinking up more efficient ways to serve drinks or going back over the location of emergency equipment in your head while waiting in traffic. Oh dear. After just a short time testing out these other career choices, you will surely be back to the airline, tail between your legs because, you see, no one ever really quits. It may take some effort to get your complaining skills back up to speed. But surely, it won’t be long before you will take it all for granted once again.
When the inevitable time comes to retire, you may find the airline offers you a payment of, say, $40,000 to “separate.” How do they expect you to retire off that??!! I’m telling you, it’s just one more slap in the face as you walk out the door! Well, at least you are free!! And if you get lucky you may even have ten more years to start living your life. Who knows how you’ll do that, but I can guess one thing…you won’t be getting on another airplane!
What opportunities to practice the art of complaining exists in your profession?