And a man busted out laughing…

…after we were stuck on a small plane for around 2 hours. No, this doesn’t include the actual flight time, which was about 90 minutes more.

Being stuck on an aircraft on the taxiway isn’t fun for anyone involved. Yesterday, on a full 50-passenger aircraft, we were stuck in a holding pattern on the ground because of the weather. Nothing could take off until a new reroute was established.

For me, it’s a stressful thing when this happens. Really, it’s no one’s fault when these events take place, but you still worry that someone is going to lash out. Food seems to help. So does liquor, but there’s never enough to go around in those situations. Besides, giving away all of the alcohol is ill-advised.

The best thing I could do was smile; that was about the only defense I had. I had a smile, some pretzels, water (which was quickly depleted when I did the water service), and some cookies. It wasn’t much, but it seemed to placate people insomuch as food can. Captain made an announcement at regular intervals to update the passengers and I, even if he didn’t have much to tell us. I’ve found that if people at least know what’s going on (even if nothing new has transpired), they stay pretty calm and remain understanding.

Before said announcements, he would call me on the interphone to check on me, and keep me updated before informing passengers of the situation. “Keep smiling!” he would say cheerfully before hanging up. He has no idea how much that helped keep me going.

After about 2 hours on the ground (and like 2 rounds of snacks, including the special delay snack. oy…), we got our route and were ready for takeoff. I was ready for a nap and wanted to be off the airplane… but stewardess life is much like the life of an actor: the show must go on.

The flight proceeded just as any other flight, with me doing a service. I would’ve loved to hide in a corner, but I also wanted to see how folks were faring. Besides, they may have wanted something more than water. It turns out that they did; I sold a crazy amount of alcohol! I haven’t beat my personal best yet, but it got close. As I approached two gentlemen sitting together, one of them did ask for a beverage. “I’m fine, please”, the other replied. Then he quickly corrected himself and said “I’m fine, thank you.”

…and he laughed. It was a big, hearty, tension-breaking laugh. I could feel the atmosphere in the plane change when he did that, and it certainly shifted my mood and feelings. To be able to laugh after such an ordeal was a blessing to me, and I’m sure to those that heard him. I even laughed with him.

Those were among the nicest group of passengers I’ve had the pleasure to serve, and moments like that are why I love my job and what keeps me going on hard days. When we finally landed in Indianapolis, IN and everyone got off, we the crew were blessed with smiles and “thank yous”. The more memorable ones were “Thank you for taking care of us”, and the last passenger that got off told me I had a great smile. There were two more flights to work, and they were back-to-back so that we could catch up, but that flight helped me carry on.

The man that laughed also gave his thanks, and walked off the plane, onto the jetway, and out of sight.

One Became Four

“Go through the door, down the steps, and it’s the second door on the left”, he said.

“Got it”, I replied.

I came out and informed the flight attendant that I tripped on a crooked step. He made sure I was okay, then vowed to fix the stair himself with duct tape.

Mind you, this conversation concerned the lavatory on an airplane. This is what air stewards do.

This is Day 3 of a 4-day trip that was only supposed to be a 1-day trip. Thank God that I had prepared myself with the right amount of food this time; my bank account would not have been able to support me on one day, let alone 4.

  • Day 1: I worked a long behind round trip from Philly to Memphis, then back to Philly. I received a call from scheduling, telling me that I needed to catch a ride to Washington DC, then work a flight to White Plains, NY. Apparently, I missed a call telling me not to catch the ride. Needless to say, I stayed the night in White Plains. It was a short overnight.
  • Day 2: Worked a flight from White Plains early in the morn to go back to Washington DC. I caught a ride to Charlotte, where there were 2 pilots that needed a flight attendant. I had a bacon cheeseburger & fries at around 8:30am (winning!), then slipped into a food coma on the ride from DC to Charlotte, NC. Worked a flight from Charlotte to Columbia, SC. Very short flight. I had complimentary cookies at the hotel, and got a crazy look when I asked the restaurant staff for bread. I had run out of sandwich bread, thinking that I was only going to be gone for 2 days. It had been stretched into 3 by this point.
  • Day 3 (today): woke up this morning and checked my schedule. My 3-day was sprinkled with pixie dust, thus magically turning it into a 4-day trip. Last day is tomorrow, for sure. It’s my last day of reserve (on call). I’ll be home for real, but not before an early start and a grueling work day. Today wasn’t bad at all, but tomorrow is 5 flights, and I gotta catch a ride home from DC to Philly. Today, I worked 3 flights, and caught a ride to Cleveland, OH.

In truth, I don’t mind long trips away from home; when I actually am home, I feel dysfunctional. I don’t know what to do other than eat and sleep, and avoid doing chores. Oddly enough, I can settle into a routine very easily when I’m on-the-go. Being away from home often is almost normal to me, like I was created to live that way. It really isn’t for everyone.

Now I must try my best to sleep, as I’ll have to wake up at 4am tomorrow. Hopefully, the coffee maker works because I suffered today. Usually, I’ll have 1/2 a cup if I feel droopy, but the coffeemaker had other plans today… like to take a vacation and not let me know about it. These things must pass through me; we’re supposed to work together, after all!

I’m kind of glad that I’ll be home tomorrow; food supplies were running low, and my bank account mocks me with low funds.

All I can do is laugh and pray that this, too, shall pass. Thank goodness for fellow flight attendants because no one knows the struggle like they do. One of them that I met today has been doing this 3o years as a part time career. Both were fun guys, and it was a joy to be on their flight.

No Place Like Home

I sit outside on a beautifully warm Monday in what is this writer’s natural habitat: Starbucks.

With a notebook and paper in front of me (I know, how retro of me!), I casually sip my black iced coffee with a shot of espresso, and lose myself whilst pondering. A cute guy sitting across from me interrupts my thoughts. I know I should make an excuse to talk to him, but I know me: I’ll give a coy glance here and there, but won’t actually speak to him. Having a way with words only translates on paper, not in audible speech.

This is where it all began; most of those early blogs were written here. Now that I can write them from hotels in different states, I find myself missing the inspiration that came from Starbucks. Not just any Starbucks, though. MY Starbucks. I know the staff and they know me; I even went on a date with one of the workers. It didn’t work out, but I still think he’s delicious.

The more I sit here and think about it, the more appreciation for my domicile builds. Being away so much has made me embrace and enjoy being home all the more.

I sit sideways in the chair with my leg swinging off the arm, enjoying the breeze that rustles through the trees. The canopy of leaves provides shade where I sit, and cars zip hastily by as I enjoy my moment of repose. Memories of talking with girlfriends eke into my consciousness, and nostalgia takes hold. Now I get why some people nest in certain places and don’t leave.

Going out and about is great; it makes coming home that much sweeter. There are many different Starbucks stores in the world, but it’s not this store in this place. None of them have the memories that this one does for me. I’ve got a lot of memories here, and I’m not sure that I want to let those go. In fact, I’m eager to start some new ones. Maybe with the same friends, and maybe with different ones.

Other places that I love to hit up at home are:

  • Rita’s Water Ice. The water ice can be bought in pints, and their frozen custard is to die for also. Yeah it’s a chain, but I’ve been living up the street from Rita’s since I was a kid! It’s a seasonal store, but it tastes better that way.
  • Tom Jones Restaurant. This is a diner that’s open 24 hrs. The cinnabon à la mode is my favourite thing. At one point, I was hitting this place up at the end of every work week; I was tired and not trusting myself to cook.
  • Little Anthony’s. A pizza joint close to my heart because I got friendly with the guys working there. Highly recommend their white broccoli pizza & cheese fries.
  • Pinocchio’s. My other favourite pizza joint. Back in the day, an ice cream parlour was attached to it. Now that attached building is where you buy beer. It’s starting to become well known for its beer garden.
  • Iron Hill Brewery. Any place that makes something like brisket fries and the Mahalo Apollo is a place that is hard to stay away from! I was so excited when the latter came back this season. They’re also great with responding to comments on their Instagram page.
  • La Na Thai French Cuisine. This is my favourite thai place mostly because of their lunch specials. A friend introduced me to this place years ago, and I haven’t left. Whether I had little money and no job, or good money and a decent job, I always found myself here. The food is good as is the price. Plus it’s BYOB. What’s not to love? There’s no corking fee of which I’m aware.
  • Linvilla Orchards. There’s a reason that the Twitter name for this wonderful orchard/farmers market is @ilovethatplace. As a kid, I was all about jumping in the giant haystack, the pie, hayrides in the fall, and the corn maze. As an adult… well, I still love the pie. I also now appreciate the farmer’s market. And the cider doughnuts, which they sell all year round.
  • Margaret Kuo’s & Jing Fong. Favourite places for Chinese food take-out. You can also dine in at Margaret’s, while Jing Fong is solely take out. Jing Fong has the best chicken wings I’ve ever bought from a Chinese food place, and they make a vegetable egg roll that I actually prefer over the pork version. That’s definitely saying something!

And Philly. Oh wonderful Philly. That needs its own post. In fact, it has had a few on this blog. I have my haunts there, and am still learning this town.

It’s in my nature to be adventurous, and I desire to explore every corner of this earth that I possibly can; however, home will always be home. Maybe one day I’ll live somewhere else, but while I’m here and when I’m not flying out, I vow to unearth coolness in my town with as much zeal as I do my newest destination.

Peace & love folks; enjoy your week.

#weekendcoffeeshare

And a bunny hopped by…

…on the day that I was in Ottowa trying pho for the first time. The SBF found Asian food in Canada.

Regrettably, I lack photographic evidence of what I ate, but I was more than relieved to relinquish my cell phone. Besides, without access to hotel wifi and no international plan, it was little more than an expensive alarm clock.

What I love about the Ottowa layover is that nearly everything is accessible by foot. There are promenades, shops, and lots of restaurants. Upon first visiting Ottowa, one of the first things I noticed was that it has a lot of Asian restaurants. Vietnamese, Thai, Indian, Japanese and Chinese are the main ones that can be found in downtown Ottowa. It was interesting because it’s the last place one would think to find Asian food.

Okay, Canada is the last place that would think of to find Asian food. It probably shouldn’t surprise me because whenever I work flights to and from there, the passengers are a reflection of the food you find. Honestly, that could be true of any place if you pay close attention to who is around you.

As I walked around trying to figure out where to settle and eat (which was mostly dictated by my wallet), a place called iPho is where I chose. The O in the name was a bowl of pho with chopsticks coming out of it. I’ve never had pho before, and today seemed like the day to try something new.

It was a rough day in the sky office. The trash can fell out of its cart and spilled contents on me and the floor. No one was hurt except for me & my pride. The trash can didn’t hurt me, though; the ice tray was the culprit. I got one nick on my right hand, and the other on my right foot. The foot was red enough that I could see it without glasses. Ironically, though, the left foot ended up hurting more than the right. I may need to see a doctor.

After all of that, solitude was much needed, and this seemed to be the place to get that. It was quiet; so quiet that I and the young lady cleaning glasses were the only two there. When she saw me, I sat myself and ordered a curried tofu vermicelli with vegetables. The cool of the air on my skin from the open door calmed my senses, and peace was flooding my brain. Part of that surely came from knowing that food was coming.

Assuming that this would be akin to a Vietnamese version of ramen, it was a surprise to see just a big bowl of noodles with the aforementioned ingredients. Even more surprising was the fact that my order was ready in around 5 minutes.

Vermicelli rice noodles were the base with long slices of tofu, some carrot, a green that looked like bok choy, and cauliflower. All of this was tinged yellow by the curry. Overall, it was filling, and the texture of the tofu was delightful; it had a rough tongue-feel which you would think should be crunchy, but it was soft when chewed. There were condiments on the table, and I chose some sambal oelek to spice it up. It paired well with the flavors of this dish.

While I ended up spending more than I would’ve preferred, I at least enjoyed what I ate as well as the quiet that went with my dinner.

On those days when I have a good layover, I should really have a camera. I’ll work on that. If anything, I would’ve loved to show you the bunny. It was small, brown, and very cute. I haven’t seen one in a while; I’m glad it hopped across the walkway and into the grass so I could see. Then it hopped down the hill and out of sight.

Know Your Exits

Although I’ve just started this job, I’ve realized how I’m well suited for it. Let me count the ways:

  • Routine bores me. There is no other industry that I can think of that is as ever-changing as the aviation/airline industry… and I worked in foodservice!  Flights get canceled, delayed, or rerouted. Sometimes your flight is shorter or longer than anticipated, and the time you show up for work changes also. It keeps a girl on her toes, that’s for sure!
  • I was the dork that read the safety card. Before becoming a flight attendant, I read the safety card when boarding any aircraft. I also watched the flight attendants because they fascinated me somewhat, and made sure to know the operation & location of the aircraft exits. Being a flight attendant has exacerbated this. I still read the safety card if I’m being carted from one place to another on an unfamiliar aircraft. I also look for the safety equipment; hey, you never know! I still watch flight attendants sometimes because they all operate differently, and I still stand in awe of them because I’m so new.
  • I actually like flying. If I had a superpower, I would want to fly; this job is as close as I get to possessing said superpower. It’s cool to sometimes ponder the fact that you’re floating in the sky in a hunk of constructed metal, scientific explanations aside. I still remember gazing at the clouds on my very first flight when I was 13. Now, I get to see it everyday in between services. One of the coolest things to witness on a flight is flying into the sunrise; the flight has to be at a specific time to see this. I am not a morning person… but getting to observe this and the feeling it gives you is well worth an early flight.
  • The uniform. There are more casual options, but I like the formal look: the navy suit with skirt, wings on the breast pocket, the neck scarf… I like the feeling that it gives me. It’s also interesting to see how people look at you as you glide through the terminal. I’ve tried wearing heels, but they were horribly uncomfortable. I’ll have to try it again; maybe I haven’t found the proper pair.
  • The desire to help. I love being helpful, and that’s what flight attendants do, insomuch as they are able. There may be some that aren’t, but I try to be. I was one of those people that wanted to be in the exit row; I willingly offer assistance as needed. Now that I’m a flight attendant, I take things like that more seriously than I did previously.

The more I think about it, the more that I feel like a mom in some ways when I work flights. I repeat myself, tell people to be seated, and give information that is necessary to make for a safe and comfortable flight. I also offer drinks.

One of my friends is flying to a location, and the flight attendant part of me wanted to give an admonition, but I restrained myself. Now when people tell me they’re going somewhere, I just want them to be safe… not for the purpose of striking fear, but to keep them knowledgeable if the worst happens. There are 3 things that anyone flying anywhere should do:

  1. Listen to the Flight Attendant.
  2. Read the safety card.
  3. Know your exits.

Few people do it because they don’t want to imagine the worst, and they think they’ve heard it all before. Maybe you have, but it will be forgotten if you ever have to use it. I feel like that will be my new “see you later” to anyone that flies.

So ends another day on reserve, but I didn’t get called today. For those of you who are “up in the air” (I had to), be safe, enjoy yourself, and know your exits. Oh, and be nice to the flight attendant.

Ciao!

Keep In Touch

Three little words with a loaded meaning.

Last time I heard these words was 2 months ago (well, 2-1/2 months ago now), when I was whisked away to train for what is now my current occupation. Everything happened so quickly that I barely had a moment to breathe. Well-meaning colleagues saying “keep in touch”, and “don’t be a stranger” are the last words that I remember.

This has always been hard for me, even before I got this job. Between being introverted and having a weird phone phobia, it’s a struggle. Yes, I dread talking on the phone, even with people that I like and have known for years. I was in my mid 20s before I felt comfortable placing a food order over the telephone. Walking into the store? Solid. Talking on the phone? Cue the mini panic attack. Even with good friends, it’s always been like this. Although I love it when I do get a chance to have a long chat with a dear friend, it’s also exhausting because of the phone angst I had before the intended party picked up the receiver. Even in my teens, I hated being on the phone.

I’ve never openly talked about this before; am I the only one that feels this way?

Certainly the weird relationship I have with phones has been mentioned in passing, but it’s been hard to articulate just why I feel like that… so it’s been a subject that is generally pushed to the back burner. My way of making it clear that I don’t like phone conversation is just to not answer or not be attached to my phone like most. This, however, isn’t the best way of addressing said issue.

It’s not that I don’t think about the people that I care about and have become attached to often; it takes effort to practice the meaning behind the phrase.

Like most people, I get lazy with it… and realize that I’ve been using my job as an excuse to be slightly disconnected. I think it’s also difficult to convey just how draining the work is physically and mentally. I’ll sleep long, have energy for a couple of hours, then have a sudden drop and nearly dislocate my jaw from yawning. Yesterday, my mom had to drive me home from Nana’s because I suddenly grew fatigued. Because she was a nurse, the hours she kept runs parallel to the way I work; she currently understands me best. How she felt and what she experienced is similar to what I’m going through now; it’s a blessing to have someone that gets it.

This is another reason that keeping up with anyone is hard; sometimes it’s physically not possible. I want to avoid being a grouch because I suddenly got tired. My friends and loved ones deserve to see me when I have the energy to interact.

I’m not saying this to fish for sympathy or make excuses; it just needed to be said in the hopes that no one will be offended by my lack of communication. There are a couple of things working against me, but I want to work through it.

Please don’t think I don’t love you if you don’t hear from me; when I get home, I sleep for about 1-1/2 days. For the other 1-1/2 days, preparation to go out again is in full effect. That means: laundry, preparing food, budget planning, napping in between, and making sure my family sees my face. Even though I live with them, I don’t see them much these days.

Who would’ve thought putting 3 words in motion would be so difficult? Though it be trying, I owe it to those I love to do my best.

T’was The Night Before Showtime

My life since about 9pm last night has felt like my stockings: a run-down, to’ up mess.

Today, I was very thankful for my long-sleeved shirt; it covered the very visible scratches on my wrists… stark reminders of last night’s events. There wasn’t much that could be done about the scrapes on my hands, but thankfully, no one pays attention.

Last night was eventful, but not in a desirable way. It involved being out in the cold for hours, blood (literally), and 4 hours of sleep before work. I thank God that scheduling was merciful to me and I only had 3 flights to work; the fatigue made me emotional. Anytime you nearly cry over ripped stockings, quit while and if you can.

All we were supposed to do was get some odds and ends so A (my bestie) could cook Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. After her shift, we planned to: drive to the Walmart that’s open 24 hours, get what we needed, and drive back in plenty of time for me to be able to rest before work, and for her to maybe start baking pies and crash. This is ALL that was supposed to happen.

This is what really happened:

Coming back from Walmart (which had no pie crust), the car started riding strangely and we smelled burning rubber. To our annoyance and dismay, one of the tires was flat… and it decided to go flat on a dark road where it was hard to find a place to pull to the side. There were a couple of houses around and (thankfully) a street light, but there was mostly woods.

Great. Wonderful.

She calls Triple A, who decides to inform her that they weren’t coming out. She had used all of her calls, and they needed money she didn’t have to come out and be of assistance.

Even more wonderful. and it kept getting better.

So then… since I have plenty of experience changing tires because of how many flats I’ve had with my last car, I try to help. While laying on the ground in the dark, I fiddled with the jack from the back of the trunk in an attempt to find proper placement to lift the car. I managed to get the wheel off the ground, and the jack decided to fall and drop the wheel back on the ground. I made another attempt, then quit from frustration and fatigue. Never mix being tired with being determined; the results might be stupid, and efforts will be futile.

We can now cue the blood. I noticed it on the one hand at first, but wasn’t able to see all of the other cuts in the dark. I didn’t receive the pleasure of discovering those until there was suitable lighting available.

Two random gentlemen, two police officers and a relative later, about 2 hours had slipped by. In that time, we managed to: get the car jacked up, remove the nuts, struggle hard with the wheel because it wouldn’t come off the car, and drive to a gas station to put air in the spare tire.

After all of that effort… we STILL couldn’t go anywhere. Why, you might ask?

because within this time, the car battery considered this the opportune time to die. When an attempt was made to jump the car, the end result was melted jumper cables and smoke… and the car still didn’t start. I’ve never seen jumper cables melt, and I pray to never see it again. It was at this time that a line was drawn, and we called it quits until morning.

I jumped in the driver’s seat in my friend’s dad’s car, and drove myself home rather than try to explain to people how to get me home. From our location, getting to my house would normally take 15-20 minutes. I was pulling into my driveway in 13.

Somehow, I managed to get 4 hours of sleep. I got to the airport much later than I wanted to, ran through the airport to clock in on time, and struggled with putting my bag away. I’ve never had that problem. It actually ended up being stuck at our final destination, and I had to get help to extract it from where it was stowed. This is the first time this happened, and it would happen today. Of all days.

I got coffee even though I shouldn’t have; it makes me jittery. The end result is akin to a small child on a sugar high. I tend to get dropsies when I’m that jittery, and boy did I have it bad! It also didn’t agree with me to have coffee that early, so my stomach was rumbling in the worst way. Somewhere in the midst of all of this, I got a very large and visible run in my stockings, and a big hole in the back near the butt which I discovered later. AND… because I decided to wash all of my stockings, I had no other pairs.

yep… it was such a wonderful day. right now, I’m so grateful to be in the hotel where I can get some sleep! I won’t have much food, but I shan’t complain. I’ll sip some tea, take a nice warm bath, and call it a night. I hope y’all have a better Thanksgiving than I did.

Just don’t tell my mom all of this; she just might kill me for trying to be a mechanic in the dark. I know I’m 31, but it makes no difference to her.