Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Memoirs of a Flight Attendant Part I

The 2 weeks in between getting hired and starting training went by real fast.  Since I knew I was going to be employed I decided to live it up.  I was so excited with my new career choice and delighted in anyone asking me what I do..I'm going to be a flight attendant!  It sounded so glamorous.  The morning came when I had to leave for training, and my dad drove me 4 hours from Chicago to Detroit.  There were others on the plane who were also going to training but none of us knew who the others were, so we didn't meet up until we landed in Florida.

We got to the hotel that was to be our home for the next month.  My roommate was going to be Diane, who had already retired from her previous postion and was embarking on a new adventure.  And her name isn't really Diane, but I didn't ask her if I could write about her so I just changed her name, see?  She was in her 40s, skinny, beautiful, perfectly groomed, everything a flight attendant should be.  Me?  I had extra pounds to shed, never wore makeup in my life.  As we walked into the room, to my horror, there was only 1 bed and a pull out couch.  She offered we take turns with the bed, but I kind of like to settle into one domain and get cozy, plus I just wouldn't feel right about taking the bed.  Here I was a young fledgeling of 23 and she was in her 40's.. I just couldn't ya know?

Turns out Diane, who's name's not really Diane, was just as afraid of flying as me.  But was that going to stop us from living the dream?  Heeeeck no.  During training, 4 weeks of studying and tests and what not, we didn't get paid.  Since Diane was retired, she had income and she lived it up, going out nearly every night. Me?  I stayed in, hanging out by the pool, eating pbj, and sleeping.   It seemed as though each week another plane crash would make the news.  The most publicized was when Aaliyah's plane crashed and all aboard died.  Let me tell you, that did nothing for our fear as you might imagine.

There was a class that started one week ahead of us.  When we were on our third week, and they were getting ready to graduate, we were silently taking a test when we heard a giant ruckus next door.   I mean, screaming, banging, urgency.  Later came to find out, we were going to have to stage an evacuation.  I mean, verbatim, get one word wrong and fail.  Fail 3 times and you are not a flight attendant.  And those 3 times were over the course of the 4 weeks, not just the verbatim evacuation.  This made my palms sweaty, my knees weak, and my heart pound.  I am not a screamer, never have been since cheering at a swim meet and someone told me my scream (cheer) sounded like a dying cow.  No joke.  I heard it myself.

There was an instructor for another class, she would always come and visit our class, and it seemed like she picked me out amongst everyone else. 

You!  You need lipstick!  Come to class next week wearing makeup! 

We were not making any money yet, and I had never wore makeup before, but I went out to the mall, consulted with a makeup saleswoman, and bought some "barely there" makeup, anything more and I felt like a clown.  Next week I came to class wearing my new makeup and in walks the same instructor. 

You!  Your lipstick is not bright enough!  It needs to be RED!  Studies have shown people listen to flight attendants more when they wear RED lipstick!  This was when the lipstick that lasts 8 hours first came out, and she would come into our classroom just to pucker her lips at us and brag about her lipstick. 

Then came the day I had to be the flight attendant to lead the evacuation in a "water landing."  They threw us into a pool and everything.  That was actually fun, but those life vests are cumbersome.

Too heavy, too light, too black or too white
Too wrong or too right, today or tonight

Seven Mary Three anyone?

(I am highly distractible.)

Then the day came to evacuate on land.  We had to do several evacuations, one from each door on each plane.  Good ol' Diane was the only person in the class to pass at the first try.  Oh my gosh the adrenaline!  It's not good enough to say - Heads down, stay down, heads down, stay down..Come this way, leave everything.  You have to SCREAM it.  AND THAT'S A LOT OF WORDS FOR ONE WHO DOESN'T SCREAM IN THE FIRST PLACE!

(I didn't work for JetBlue btw!)  (Nor Delta)  Anyway, training was a hugely stressful 4 weeks.  Some didn't make it, many did, and finally it was graduation day, and we got our wings...September 7, 2001.

1 comment:

  1. Hah! I totally love this, please keep it going. I can't believe she really called you out for your lipstick not being red enough. What if you don't like red lipstick?