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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Flying the Friendly Skies

Ok. I can admit it. The end of the world freaked me out.
That outdated Mayan calendar threw everything out of whack for the Media Guy.

I mean who didn’t have December 21st circled on their calendar?

Yes, I was afraid. Words no longer flowed freely from my fingertips. Writing was at a standstill. The words simply dried up. I was so afraid that I lost days. I lost the ability to tell the difference between day and night, breakfast and dinner, my head and my arse. I was afraid that I was too old and slow now to outrun the flawed Mayan calendar. But most of all, I was afraid because I already survived one end of the world scared earlier in 2012. I shouldn’t have to deal with this twice in one year. Alas, when the media gets a hold of a story and it moves the needle, they simple choke it to death.

So imagine being on a plane in the twenty-first on a mostly empty transcontinental flight staring deeply into an iPad with virtually no words hashed out. No notes. No thoughts. Just a vacuous space where brilliance is supposed to reside. My publisher awaited chapters and there was nothing in the tank. I t should have been easy to pump out some freshly minted words. I was the only passenger in business class. No distractions. Yet, no brain power either. Then I met Daniela Lewis.

All you need is a good mus to end your writer's block.
Who’s Daniela Lewis you ask? She’s the muse I met on my flight, relieved to be headed home after days and days in the air. She was my flight attendant; easy on the eyes and easier on the mind. She was a warm cup of chicken soup for the soul who inspired me by her dedication to a career that didn’t seem so easy after long conversation. She will forever be my Flight Girl Daniela.

MEDIA GUY: After 16 years flying the friendly skies, you must have seen some crazy things right?

FLIGHT GIRL DANIELA: The craziest thing about the airlines is the competition for these jobs. We have something like a thousand openings a couple of years back and I think 100,000 people applied. Some of the people interviewed were engineers, lawyers and doctors. We only get paid $19,000 to start, Crazy, but true.

MG: But once you’re in, you stay in, right?

FGD: You would think, but that’s not the case. Newbies are on a strict six-month probation period. Some girls have gotten fired for not zipping their uniform all the way up and another got the boot for texting while doors are still open.

MG: I know I’m probably being naïve, but if you’re on the plane, shouldn’t you be in “customer service mode.” [Note: I know you can’t see it, but the quotation marks around customer service mode were sarcastic air quote marks.]

FGD: I want everyone that you can possibly reach to know that: If the doors of the plane are still open, we aren’t getting paid. You know all that time at the gate when we are pouring drinks for business and first class and squeezing your overweight carry-ons in the overhead bins? Well, none of that time magically appears in our paychecks. We might as well be passengers like you, because we are making less than you probably are at that very moment. “Flight hours only is the motto at my airline.” So trust me when I tell you that when you are giving us crap about delays and push back times, we just as upset as you.

MG: So….the Mile High Club. For it or against it?

FGD: You know, it’s not against the law to join the Mile High Club. It is, however, against the law to disobey our in-flight orders. So by all means, if you want some dirty sex in a crammed environment, by all means get your jiggy on. That is, unless we ask you to stop and get back to your seats, because you should get moving if you do. As far as adding members to the club, I don’t care and even the dinosaurs [the old, prude flight attendants from the “stewardess” days] don’t care if you can’t wait to get back to the Airport Holiday Day Inn for a quickie. Who does care is the passenger who just downed a whole can of Diet Coke and is dying to use the restroom. When they complain, we have to be their voice.

MG: Speaking of Diet Coke, I hear that most flight attendants hate serving the stuff. Is that just urban myth?

FGD: Ugh! We do hate it. I can serve up to twenty-five different drinks and D.C. takes forever to pour. At 30,000 feet, the fizz doesn’t settle down. I feel like I have to beg it to go away. Sometimes I just give the can and a cup with ice and let the passenger feel special for getting an entire can. Most times I can pour four drinks of something else before a single pour of D.C. Plus, you shouldn’t drink that stuff any way; I hear it causes cancer.

Are shorter skirts back?
MGD: Why do some flight attendant’s skirts a lot shorter than others?

FGD: Very perceptive Mr. Media Guy! Seniority automatically means a shorter shirt. Why? Because we alter the length of them until our probation is lifts. Most of the younger, athletic model-type flight attendants want to wear as little polyester as possible to as soon as we pass six months, we hit up the dry cleaners to shorten the, and show off our legs.

MGD: I bet it gets frustrating to get hit on after you hem your skirts.

FGD: It is a little bit, but it’s part of the job for waitresses and flight attendants. Remember guys, no means no and you don’t need to make us turn you down more than once. Keep this in mind though: many of the senior flight attendants are cougars in sheep’s clothing. They don’t get hit on as much and are very flattered by flirty advances. than senior flight attendants. That’s the rule and not the exception. This is where the hookups happen.

MGD: Anyone ever die on board a flight?

FGD: No. We’ve had several high maintenance passengers who must have crystal balls because they keep saying they are going to have a stroke or a heart attack if we don’t land soon. But they are fine once we touch down. I was one a flight once before 9/11 where a guy tried to board a flight with a dead relative in a wheelchair.. I’m not kidding here. In full Arnold Schwarzenegger mode, he said she was dead tired. Halfway to Los Angeles, we had to mke an unscheduled stop and get him her off the plane. Later I heard he wanted to save the four grand it costs to transport the body. We do have a corpse cupboard / compartment in the cabin, just in case we need to store an “incapacitated” body.


So as Daniela rushed back to handle and air bag incident in economy, I soaked in her delicious sarcasm, sipped on my Diet Coke and the words flowed never before. I was cured from the Mayan-Calendar-End-of-the-Earth Jinx. 


Part 2:
Read part two of Daniela and Michael here.

Part 3:
Read part three of Daniela and Michael here.