Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Following the rules

There was an article in yesterday's USA Today that compared Flight Attendants to "Dominatrix". I'm guessing the author is referring to our constant commands: "Fasten your seat belt. Put your seat up. Put your table up. Turn your Electronic Device off. Now. No, not after you finish your text. Now. Yes, IPOD's count as electronic devices. Yes, video games count as electronic devices. Turn them off, now. Stow your bag under the seat in front of you. No, all the way. No, I can't get you a glass of wine during the safety demonstration. No, that bag won't fit in the overhead bin. How do I know? Only 30 years of experience watching people try to fit that bag in the overhead bin. Some passengers seem to think we want to correct everything they do. We don't. We would like you to follow the much announced rules and policies on your own. I notice more and more passengers wanting to tell me the rules. When I told 24B my airline only collects credit cards for purchase, he said that was "illegal", that we HAD to accept cash. He's a lawyer, and I'm not, so I don't know, he might be right. 18C questioned why I was throwing a plastic bottle in the trash, when we had announced we were recycling. When I tried to explain our policies, she put her fingers in her ears and said "I'm contacting the newspaper when I get home. You are not recycling." Oh, great, another bad letter to the company that I have to spend my time off defending.

So, a Dominatrix? No way. A kindergarten teacher, now you're talking. 18C, please take your fingers out of your ears.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Flying is stressful

It's no secret that flying is stressful these days. I've often said that getting to the airport, parking, and mostly getting through security is the worst part of the trip. Flying as a "real" passenger this weekend really reinforced this feeling. I put my liquids in the little bottles, which I put in the little baggie, which I put in the side pocket of my suitcase for easy acess when it came time to take it out for security. I wear slip off shoes, the better to take on and off for the trip through the metal detector.

I make sure my phone and other metal is all out of my pockets . (I once was behind a woman in security who made the detector buzz three times until they discovered it was the 3 single serve containers of peanut butter, with a FOIL cover, that were in her pocket (?) that made the alarm go off.

So, peanut butter container out of pocket. Check. Phone out. Check. Computer out. Check. Shoes off. Check.

Ready for security. But, of course, the family ahead of me is not. They have apparently slept through 9-11 and all the changes that have happened since. They are also late for their flight. I know this because the husband screams this to his wife on 6 occasions in the 15 minutes we share together. Even though the TSA worker is repeating in a monotone "take off your shoes, remove metal from your pockets, take computers out your bags, etc.", they are doing none of this. The impatient husband is throwing his bags on the belt and shoving his way past other people to the walk though detector. This causes the alarm to go off, and the TSA says "Sir, please go back and wait your turn." I know this will illicit a bad reaction, and it does. Said "sir" turns around to wife (and two small children) and yells, "put your ffff...ign bags up here before we miss our flight" and as she does, small child no. 1 collapses in a heap on the floor and plays dead. ( I would too if he were my father.) Father is even more incensed and picks up the child who is now screaming at the top of his lungs and tries a second run through the detector, dragging his child by the arms. (At this point I notice the cigarette behind his ear, a comfort I guess, since he won't be able to smoke for at least the next couple of hours, or maybe sooner if they take him to jail where he belongs). Now, the TSA says, "Sir, ONE person at a time through the detector, and you have to wait until I tell you to come through." His voice is loud, and angry. The man (I have to stop calling him husband or father, because at this moment he is not worthy of either of these titles) turns his venom on his wife, with language that is truly too offensive to even repeat here, and then he adds "you're hopeless and you never do anything right." But, she does! The woman looks him right in the face and says "I've had it with you, I'm not going anywhere with you" and takes the two kids and her bags and walks away. I look at the other passengers and I can tell we all want to cheer, to hug her, but we don't. We continue on our own solitary journey through security.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Private habits in public places

Have you noticed that people don't necessarily keep their private grooming habits private anymore? In the past couple of weeks, I've seen people 1) flossing their teeth 2) picking their nose 3) brushing their teeth (and yes, spitting, as well) on my airplanes. It used to be that clipping toe nails and applying nail polish and make up was as bad as it got. (Well, there was the time I had to tell someone to put their shoes back on, because the smell of their (ok, his) feet had permeated the whole front section of the plane.) While I'm on the subject of feet, please don't put your feet, (often without shoes) up on the bulkhead, or on the person's seat in front of you. I don't care if you've recently had a pedicure and have pretty pink flowers painted on your toenails. No one wants someone else's feet in the tiny little space they are allowed. We once arrested a woman (for interfering with a flight crew instructions) who would not remove her feet from the seat in front of her for 8 hours because she didn't want the person to put their seat back and go into HER space. She steadfastly kept her legs locked and her knees up against the seat the whole flight, even after we removed the other passenger and put her in a very large, comfortable first class seat. She couldn't walk as she was led off the plane to the European police, and she was banned from flying our airline again, but, she had proved her point, right?

And, what makes people think it's ok to walk around an airplane and ESPECIALLY into a bathroom with bare feet? And, let your children do it? What do you think that liquid on the floor of a bathroom is? Think turbulence, someone off balance trying to hit the toilet--yep, you guessed it. That's not water.

Then there was the time a passenger asked me to "ask whoever it is that is having so much gas to stop having so much gas." When I asked her to repeat that, she did, an octave higher, which effectively took care of the situation. I had a whole team of wrestlers on once, and wow, did they have a lot of gas. Something about their restrictive diets to keep them in their weight classes. They even knew each other's gas smells and patterns, and joked about it at landing. "wow, nelson, you really went at it today, etc....." Not cool, not cool.

I've had to ask passengers to quit snoring, listening to music so loud, watching a video with the sound on, making out, move into their own space when they are flowing over into others with their seat back, arms out, head out in the aisle...and they are never happy with me. In fact, I've noticed that whenever you ask people to stop doing something they already shouldn't be doing, they get very crabby. And that should be outlawed, as well. We are all together, crammed in this metal tube, for whatever length of time it is. Suck it up! You chose this mode of transportation. There are other options: cars, trains, automobiles...that take TEN times as long to get to your destination! And, if you are alone, you can pass gas all you want.

Really, if you are in a car, an airplane, a bus, etc........people are watching! (and smelling!) When you are about to engage in a private habit in a public place, just don't do it. Enter a bathroom, (alone--more on that later) with your shoes on, and keep your private habits PRIVATE.