Monday, November 30, 2015

Passenger of the Day: The Gobbler

Lights of the runway
It looked rough on paper and by the fourth day, it felt rough. It proved to be a long, tiring trip, which drained our energy and Mother Airline saved the worst for the last day...3 flights and nearly 13 hours of working, after the shortest layover of the 3 nights away from home. The first day was easy; flying to Philly for 15 hours. The 2nd day had us end up in Memphis for 16 hours after 2 flights. Day 3 was the easiest day that had us dead head to Houston and then work to Austin, but even that was stressful with weather-related delays. Austin was the shortest layover of the 3, shortened even more thanks to Mother Nature. It's a shame Mother Airline and Mother Nature are often at odds with one another. Day 4 began with only 6 hours of sleep with flights to Denver, Tampa and back home to Houston. By the time I got to Tampa, I was toast!

I love 4 day trips. I got this job to travel and I love staying in the hotels and meeting interesting people. On this trip, I was purser, which means I was in charge of the cabin and the liaison to the flight deck. We got to Tampa and all 3 of us, working the flight, were feeling the effects of the long trip and the short layover the previous night. We were a bit giddy and laughing at the smallest of things. I found myself making quite a few mistakes when making announcements. I'd made the safety announcements 7 times in 4 days. There should be no mistakes- it was practically memorized. I'm sure no one but me really noticed them, but I pride myself on excellence.

I love working the purser position on the Airbus. There are either 12 or 8 passengers depending on whether it's the A320 or the A319. On a longer fight, I usually get to know a few of the passengers, who enjoy engaging in conversation, as I find out where they've been, where they are going, what they do for a living, or a variety of other topics.

Fifteen years ago, I'll never forget being told while in training for this job, to engage passengers whenever possible. It makes their day and most people enjoy being singled out to be spoken to by the flight crew. I was flying since I learned to walk and I've always loved the attention given from crew, flying on my own at such a young age. It's something that has never left me, and now that I'm on the other side of the ticket, I do what I can to be present for all passengers. I comment on jewelry, hats, blouses, shoes, travel bags and especially great smiles.

A baggage loader seen outside the window
The passengers leaving Tampa for Houston in first class seemed to enjoy my levity and humor. Even when tired, or especially, perhaps, I can be entertaining as I welcome people, take pre departure orders, and assist people with checking bags at the door. The woman in 2B seemed to smile a lot and watched me as I worked, more than the others seated in the front of our Airbus. So it was to her whom I most devoted my attention during flight.

She was a lovely, young woman of about 30 with long, dark hair. She and her boyfriend in 2A were dressed nicely, the way people used to dress when flying first class. She admitted that I looked a little tired and asked if I had a short layover the night before. So I briefly detailed my trip and she could understand why I was so looking forward to arriving in Houston and having 5 days off. She mentioned that she and her boyfriend lived in Houston, but had a home near Tampa, as well. I mentioned that I recently moved from San Francisco, and she gushed at how lovely it was there. I agreed, as we talked about the weather, the beauty and open minded people.

She informed me that she and her boyfriend hadn't had the chance to spend much time in the Bay Area, but would be returning soon. They were only there for a day to look at a ring being sold in an antique store. She smiled and nodded towards the young man in 2A, deeply involved in a movie on his personal device. I watched as she displayed her hand, sans any metal on her ring finger and understood her meaning. “Well, good luck with that! I hope you get it!”

We talked on and off for the duration of the flight, as most other passengers were busy watching movies and shows and pretty much ignoring me. As I made my safety checks on the Houston approach, I noticed she was placing an object in her purse. “Oh, is that one of those dancing solar animals?” I asked.
“Yes, it's a turkey,” she said with a wide smile, showing it to me.
“I love those! They have them at the dollar store and I love buying them for my nephews!”
“Yes,” she gushed, “I got this one at the dollar store!” I told her of the ones I had in my window at home and how I often dance with them, giving her, and the rest of the aircraft, a little demonstration, shaking my hips and head in opposite directions. It made her laugh. I love the laugh reaction from people!
My new dancing gobbler on display at home.

As I passed back by to take my seat for landing, she handed me the dancing turkey. I tried to refuse it, as if she were trying to hand me a hundred dollars and not an item that cost as much as a slice of fruit cake. I finally acquiesced and accepted it. It's so rare that a passenger offers up a gift, other than a piece of chocolate, so I quickly wrote her a thank you card.

As we taxied to the gate, I made my usual announcement, “...I hope you enjoyed your flight and we look forward to seeing you again. On behalf of the entire flight crew, happy travels and many returns,” and with it being the week of the US Thanksgiving holiday, I added, “and have a happy Thanksgiving.” A woman shouted out, “You, too, Penguin!” I'm pretty sure it was my new friend in 2B, who, next time I see her, will hopefully have a new antique engagement ring on that finger!

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