Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Adventures in Flight: The Blue Room

Fifteen years ago I became a flight attendant and began a new career in the skies of the world. I have always loved flying and have had a fascination with aviation since I was a small boy. My eyes always turn upwards when I hear the roar of a jet airplane overhead. The thrill I felt was obvious and in those early days of internet, I would write my friends and family about my new adventures flying hither and yon around the world, so blue.

At one point, I asked if anyone had any questions for the new flight attendant in their life. I always interrogated pilots I met about how things worked and what their work life was like. I just assume everyone is as excited about flying as I am. I think I had only one question, from a very good friend of mine who had recently moved to Chicago. She asked me about the lavatory.

Also known as the blue room, a reference to the royal blue color of the water that flushes the toilet, the lav is a unique place on an airplane. It's only a step above a porta-potty and I try to avoid using it as the oval office at any cost- only in emergencies. Many flight attendants carry their own air freshener to combat the assortment of odors that emanate from within one. And here is a tip for those times you just have to have a seat: use the seat covers to line the bowl to prevent anything untoward (poo) from sticking and not washing down. There's nothing worse than going in and finding claw marks from the person ahead of you.

My friend, Sue, wanted to know when flight attendants used the lavatory, as she apparently had never seen one do so. Silly girl. When we receive our wings, we become gods. Using the lavatory is no longer a necessity. I wish! I do refer to those who don't have a career in the skies as mortals, but we certainly do use the lavatory on airplanes. Elsewhere, too.

It's funny, but to this day, some 15 years later, I still think of this question whenever I slip into one. The things our mind holds onto. (Don't tell her I think of her every time I'm in there!)

After takeoff
The short answer is that we get up out of our jump seats before the seat belt sign is turned off. One of the reasons, besides getting ready for the service, is to jump in the lavs before the line forms, going up the cramped aisle. Some of the women also need to change their shoes; off with the heels and on with the work flats. Some of us wear smocks. So this is the time, when the mortals are still required to remain seated, for us to get in there and get situated before we get inundated with the passengers. It's why you may hear a stern warning if you're up before the sign goes off, “Um, hello, the seat belt sign is on, see the little seat belt symbol all illuminated? Yes, so turn around and go back to your seat and wait for us to use it first!” 

The same goes for landing. The seat belt sign comes on for several reasons. Yes, as we pass through cloud layers into in the arrival city to which is our destination, we tend to encounter more turbulence. But we also need to have access to the aisles to conduct our safety checks, run paperwork to the purser in first class, and have a moment to use the lavs once more before landing. No one wants to encounter the rare emergency landing with a full bladder! Imagine the horror of being on the nightly news after having evacuated an aircraft with a huge wet stain on your pants.

“Yes, Steve, as you can see, we have another case of fearless flight attendants who were just doing their job, evacuating everyone safely, with no injuries to report. Here is one such brave flight attendant, who seems have to wet herself in the process. Well, back to you in the studio.”

Approach into EWR
So do as your parents taught you, use that time before the boarding process begins, and use the rest room before you board the aircraft and give us a chance to do our thing before you have to do yours. And be careful about you ask a flight attendant. You may ruin a good memory of yourself! (Just kidding, Sue!)

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