Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Adventures in Flight: So What is it that do?

Everyone, it seems, can relate to the airline industry. Everyone has airline stories- good and bad- and seems to love sharing them, regardless of who might listen. Most times, I'm happy to talk shop with others, that's what having Airline Disease is all about. But there are times when I enjoy one of the more popular perks of being a flight attendant- not taking the job home.

You may have flown next to a flight attendant and not realized it. We are keen to changing out of uniform any time we can and many flight attendants are even known to hide bag tags that can give them away. I know when I get a first class seat, I want to fit in and just be a customer; able to enjoy the privilege of flying in first without being looked down upon as just an employee by someone who paid thousands of dollars to sit next to me (I know, I'm worth it!).

Many flight attendants keep an assortment of stories at the ready for the question, “What is it that you do for a living?,” but are just not in the mood to hear horror stories or to be asked a ton of questions. Imagine a long day flying across timezones, dealing with screaming, unruly kids, attention-needy business passengers and the companion animal who tried to bite you every time you walked past. You get to your layover hotel, starving and in need of an adult beverage. You plop your bags down, shower the day's scum from your body, dress in humane clothes made of natural fibers and find your way to the hotel bar. Ah, human time, at last. Then the person next to you, already on their 4th beer asks what you do for a living.

Some of the better skilled flight crew are quick to bring out one of an assortment of talk-killing jobs; “I'm here for a plumbing convention,” or “I'm an accountant for a bakery that specializes in fruit cakes,” or, “Oh, I'm just a process server, still looking for my piggie. So, what's your name?” Yes, the faces are often priceless and it squeezes the life out of the desire to get to know you. “I'll have the flat-bread pizza and keep the 'Ritas flowing, Barkeep!” Peace at last!

One of the riskiest things about this job is being in a metal tube with germ-carrying folk who love to share them. I'm always afraid my doctor is going to think I'm a hypochondriac, but fortunately, the tests are always coming up positive for this and that. In the past year, I've had Type-A influenza, numerous colds and now, strep throat twice! So off to the doctor I go. It was a slow Saturday at the clinic, (my regular doctor's office was closed) so I got to see every staff member in attendance, you know, to justify the numbers. Check-in lady needs this filled out and a copy of my ID. Nurse 1 takes my temp and vitals. Nurse 2 takes my history. The doctor comes in and this is where it all falls apart.

After asking if anyone in my household is ill, he asks what I do for a living. I tell him, and am next asked for which airline. With the straightest of face he then has the balls to ask me if I could get him a discount ticket. Really? I didn't think I had a fever, surely I'm hallucinating. “I can buy you a drink,” I shoot back, dryly.

Doctor Nuts goes into a few minutes of wondering why ticket prices don't go down when gas prices do and how you buy a ticket thinking you have a great deal, but then find that you have to pay for this and that and if the bag is over 40 pounds you pay another $5 per pound and suddenly I am not listening to him any longer, but begin looking at the art selected for the walls of the exam room and wondering why it is that I can't get my photos in a place like this. If I didn't look sick before, my face was contorted in pain now from hearing him drone on and on and he picked up the pace, perhaps afraid I was about to pass out.

He finishes his portion of the visit and nurse 1 returns. She must have spoken to Dr. Nuts about me and wants to know if I know her sister, who also flies for my airline. Of course, I don't, and I just want my shot and prescription so I can go back to my little cave I’ve made in my bed at home. A typical guy, I don't do 'ill' very well.

I'm asked to see the receptionist to handle the last of my paperwork and she, too, had a bad flight she just had to share. I've heard the stories, and I drown her out as I listen to a woman in the waiting area who in the next 4 minutes would say the word, “like” at least 30 times. “It was, like, the best thing I had like, ever seen. And he was all like, I told you. Like, didn't you hear me say that before? But I was like, well, you like, say that stuff all the time, and like, I just sort of like, ignore it...” Were there a gun within reach I'm not sure if I'd have shot her, or like, maybe myself!

Feeling bad is bad. Feeling good is where it's at. Feeling bad and having to hear someone's negative stories about your career is worse. Maybe for this doctor's visit, I should have said I collect deceased animals for the city. No one likes to talk about road kill, or if they do, that might be one interesting conversation.  

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful story. I know just how you feel, telling someone you are an accountant during tax time is ALWAYS a mistake. No, I don't do taxes. No, I can't help you with just one little thing. No, no, no.