Friday, August 19, 2016

Adventures in Flight: Threshold for Negativity

Negative of a plane over Chicago

I had just finished the dinner service in first class and was seated on the jumpseat to catch my breath. It was a long service, interrupted by turbulence in the stormy skies over West Texas and Southern New Mexico, compounded by having to feed the hungry pilots as well, and made worse by the fact that of my two ovens, one was inoperative. Dear Mia walked into the galley looking like she'd just run a race. It seems the service in coach was as rough.

We exchanged a few pleasantries after checking in on one another, when she told me that I needed to talk to the woman in 28F. The woman had already spoken to both flight attendants working in economy and was not happy with what either of them had to say. It was something about food being served and how much she spent on her tickets.

I had already dealt with three negative people earlier that day, so when I turned around to see the threshold of my ability to sanely deal with more negativity, I could no longer see it. That threshold was long gone, hurried along by 1A during our boarding process.

He had a bag that was preventing the overhead bin from closing. Neither Mia nor I were able to close the bin. I even turned the bag around to see if that would help. It didn't. I asked who the bag belonged to and found a bunch of faces silently looking at me as if I might break into song. Without a word, 1A gets up, stomps to my location at row 2, turns his bag around and then slams the ever-loving shiitake out of the door. It startled the women in 3A and B and the man in 1B looked terrified. Mia was there, looking at me with her mouth agape and eyes as wide as the Gulf of Mexico.

I followed him back to his seat and asked that he not treat our plane so roughly, or I'd might be forced to send him the bill for the damage. I should have reminded him that had he broken it, we'd have to empty the contents, check the bags and tape the bin closed, as that is what happens with a broken bin. Regardless, he was now on our radar and had best behave himself for the remainder of boarding or he'd find himself on a later flight to San Francisco.
Negative from the flight deck over clouds

I rolled my eyes at Mia, seated next to me on the jumpseat and asked if the woman in 28F had actually asked to speak to me. She had. There was no getting out of this one; I'd have to go back and deal with it.

It's amazing how a smile can disarm negativity. I started, maintained and left with a smile on my face when I got to 28F. I'm not sure where I found that smile, but surely it was just about the last one I had left. Waiting for me was a woman with a quaint British accent seated next to a young man who spoke under the same condition. She seemed a bit surprised that I actually came back to speak with her and she reminded herself that she was upset.

She started by telling me that she was amazed to be told there was no food when the flight attendants reached her row during the service. “We ran out of food?” I asked. “No, there was only food for purchase,” she replied. I told her that we no longer had complimentary food on our flights. When she asked how long this afflicted us, I found myself searching for a condensed version of Mother Airline going into bankruptcy many years ago, and how, to save money, one of the things we lost was free food in coach. But she had just flown in from London and received a meal. Yes, but that's international- this is domestic. This response required my giving her a few definitions, but I was all smiles.

The woman lost steam as we spoke and she became more and more pleasant, telling me she had spent over 2,000 pounds on her flight from London.

“Two thousand pounds? Why that's more than a rhino weighs.”
“Shut up, Inside Voice, this doesn't concern you!”

Soon we were chatting about the places I've lived, what to do in San Francisco for their 10-day holiday, and the lack of anything redeeming about fruit cake. By the time I walked back to the forward galley, my two friends from London in row 28 were all smiles, including the woman listening in behind them who had hoped to hear more tirades, but instead got an earful of pleasantries.

Mia couldn't believe how nice she was to me after giving she and Sue such a hard time over not eating on their 4 hour sit time in Houston and how we didn't have anything free to give her for her 2000 pounds sterling tickets.

As she and the young man left, they both shook my hand as I bade them a fantastic California holiday. She stopped to look in the cockpit and asked if she could thank the captain. “Oh, she just left,” I said. “As now must you!” said Inside Voice. I'm so happy Inside Voice stays inside or I could get in trouble. My new friend in 28F and her companion were nice, but the flight was late and I was ready to get to my hotel. “Buh-bye.”

Landing in SFO

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