Sunday, November 14, 2010

Memoirs - Part Two

**It's been a minute since I picked up the memoirs of the flying days, I have the links at right if you want the pre-story!**

Flight attendant training lasted one month in total.  Would you believe that 95% of that training was to prepare us for an emergency?  The day to day flying, the job we would be doing regularly, was not covered.  The last 2 hours of training they broke out the beverage cart.

We had 3 instructors during training.  The head instructor was almost stereotypical gay flight attendant.  Immaculately groomed, flamboyant, hilarious, he made training fun.  Then we had 2 other women who were in training to become instructors themselves.  One of them was very Marisa Tomei, My Cousin Vinny.  She was from New York, had the accent, the kind of brassness and sassiness that some New Yorkers have.  She was the one to break out the beverage cart and teach us service.

"You walk up to the row and ask them what they'd like to drink.  Tell them we have Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, and juice.  Now.  If they want tomato juice.  We also have this bloody mary mix, which is spiceeeey.  Ask them which one they want but let them know the bloody mary mix is spiceeeeeeey.  They can have just the mix without the cocktail but just be sure to tell them it was sp-iy-ceeeeeeeeey."

 Diane and I looked at each other and at the same time said spiceeeeeey and broke into a fit of laughter. Ahem.  Wait, this is serious business.


For goodness sakes, she went on and on that bloody mary mix was spicy!

Then we filled out a survey on the class as a whole.  What was good, what was bad, what could be improved...  I remember distinctly saying that the training on hostage situations could have been better.  I don't think I can say what the training consisted of, but I will say it only lasted an hour, two at most. 

Little did I know, 4 days later, how forboding that comment was.  Every one of our lives would be changed forever.

After flying back home after training, I realized I was going to have to haul booty to Detroit.  There was no planning involved, I didn't know where I was going to live, I didn't know what the job was going to be like, where do I park at the airport?  Where do I go when I get there?  What do I do?  How do I pack? I need a cell phone!!

Is that sad?  I remember the first day I ever got a cell phone, only because it fell between graduation day and my first day on the job.  September 9, 2001.  Saying goodbye to my family and friends in Chicago, I packed just a few belongings in my car and headed to Detroit.  I ended up at the friend's house who I had met in Tampa.  Calling scheduling I learned that my first flight was to be a Tampa turn, Tuesday September 11, 2001 at 3pm.  Oh my gosh!  I'm a flight attendant!  I giggled and jumped up and down.

The night before the big day I got the jitters, first day on the new job.  I hoped people wouldn't be able to tell I was new.  I hope the other crew didn't roll their eyes at the new girl.  I hate being the new girl, I like being 100% confident in what I'm doing, and there was really no way to prepare for this, being on a plane.  I had to relax.  My mind racing, I dozed off late that night.

The next morning I awoke with my new cell phone ringing.

Are you ok??  It was a friend calling.
Well, you know, I was pretty nervous last night but I think I'll be fine today.  I'm ready!
No, I mean....turn on the tv.

I think we all remember that day, watching it live, unfolding in front of us.  The shock of planes hitting the twin towers, the disbelief when they crumbled to the ground.  The fear as news reported there was one plane in the air unaccounted for.  They talked about that plane for some time, and then just stopped.  They never did say what happened to it.  Was it a mistake, was there not a plane unaccounted for?  Did something happen to it?  So many conspiracy theories..

I called Diane.  We lamented over the situation, and then talked of the craziness of the whole experience.  Going through training with a fear of flying, all the plane crashes during training, and now this??  Is it a sign, should we turn our backs on this new career and run?  I called scheduling, unaware at that time how they were busy trying to help all the stranded crews around the country, not having time to think about us first day on the jobbers.  What do I do?  Go to the airport?  No one knew what was going on at that point.  How long would flights be grounded, what is going to happen to the industry?  Suffice it to say you won't be flying today, the scheduler told me.

I knew the day was so much bigger than me, there was so much uncertainty and fear, and yet I couldn't help but also not want to get in trouble being new on the job.

Diane and I met for drinks later that day.  It probably wasn't later that day, maybe we started around 1.  The bar was somber, no one talking, everyone's eyes glued to the tv screens.  They started a scroll with the names of those on the flights.  I felt chills when they listed the crew members.  That could have been anyone. This is happening in our country. 

Diane invited me to live with her, a huge relief because I knew I couldn't stay where I was at.  The friend who's house I was currently crashing in was a player, staying with him would have ruined his game.  And new flight attendants don't make much money at all, I knew renting a place of my own was out of the question.  I moved in with Diane immediately.

A few days later we both received the call, our first flights would be on the same day, different flights both headed to New York on Friday September 14th.  New York?!  We have to go there?


  1. Wow, that really must have been a really difficult experience to go through, and at such a time...

  2. You know that I have been moving so I am behind in my blog reading. I am enjoying the story. Fun and heartbreaking at the same time.

  3. Wow, quite a story! Hey, Here's a bloody mary recipe that's not so spiceeeeey! :O


  4. Actually the airlines called our house in Chicago to tell you you weren't going to work your first day because your trainer called in sick. This was at 9:15 am on 9/11. I think I asked her if she was really serious.