{September 27, 2013}   No Fighting in the car!

It all started one weekend  this summer when we were invited to join another family at their cottage. How was I going to entertain three children on a three hour drive?  Since we don’t believe in dvds and Ipads in the car, I had to come up with a back up plan.  There’s only so much window gazing and I-Spy games we could partake in before we all get a little stir crazy.

I remember almost 5 years ago,  I jumped in the car for a five hour drive to visit my family with my then 5 month old, and 4 and 6 year olds. I borrowed from the library countless annoying Robert Munsch audio books to keep my older two entertained. Halfway through the drive, we stopped at McDonald’s for lunch and to let off much needed  steam in the play area for my boys, while I fed my baby daughter. We all survived that trip.

So, cottage bound,  we stopped at the library and armed ourselves with as many audio books as we could manage. The three hour car ride literally flew by. It was so quiet in the car as all four of us were mesmerized by the characters’ voices. We enjoyed a mystery story plus some classics by Roald Dahl including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and James and the Giant Peach. These stories captivated the almost 5 year old all the way up to the 39 year old. Now that’s impressive!  

I loved listening to these books. I don’t get a chance to read ‘kids’ books anymore.  My older two read on their own and I read smaller books to my youngest. 

Anyways, we got hooked!  Now, where ever we go, whether it is a 5 minute drive or 1 hour journey, we listen to our stories. We have read everything from ‘The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar’ by Roald Dahl, to ‘Cool Zone with the Pain and the Great One’ by Judy Blume, to R.L. Stine’s Rotten School series (The Big Blueberry Barf Off…how can you go wrong with a title like that) and ‘Henry and the Clubhouse’ by Beverly Cleary.

The kids are enjoying authors that I read when I was a kid. I borrowed some more audio and regular books from those classic novelists. My 8 year is enthralled with those characters and is reading books that he used to be intimidated by. I couldn’t be happier. 

One book in particular,  Henry and the Clubhouse’ was written in 1962. Cleary’s writing was true to her era and I envy the freedom that her characters enjoyed in their every day life. Eleven year old Henry gets a job as a paperboy delivering newspapers and builds himself a backyard club house in his spare time. He is responsible and respectful to the adults in his life.  In one scene, the mother exclaims that she was starting to get worried about Henry one Saturday after he was out playing in the neighborhood for the last eight hours. Not once does Henry ask to play the Wii or IPad. Sigh.

There is another character,  Ramona, Henry’s pesky five year old neighbour who follows Henry around on his paper route. At one point, Henry tells Ramona to go home and she does as she is allowed to walk on her own as long as she doesn’t cross any busy streets.  My almost 5 year old is not even allowed to play in our front yard unsupervised! 

I think the kids ‘back then’ has a more fun childhood. More freedom=more fun.

This summer, when my kids were complaining that they were bored playing outside, I told my eldest that when I was his age, I would have been so happy to be able to play outside all day. He retorted: Ya Mum, but you didn’t know any better. You didn’t have computers or anything better to do.

He has a point, but…

{September 23, 2013}   Coffee, Tea or Fuck you?

How would you  describe the typical flight attendant?  Do you picture her as the petite young woman with a tight hair bun and a neat appearance?  Or perhaps he is an extravagant over the top gay man with a lisp? Maybe she is a slightly overweight older woman who has eaten one too many crew meals and reminds you of your grandma. Well, the truth is, there is no right answer. We come in all shapes, sizes and sexual orientation.  But one thing we all have in common is the love for our job in customer service and safety. Well, most of us, anyway.

I’ve flown with some real crabby pants over the years. They joke: This would be the perfect job if it wasn’t for the passengers. But, they are not joking.

I’ve also had the pleasure of working with some big time potty mouths. Some of these girls go into the airplane galley, shut the (flimsy materialed) curtain, and curse like a sailor visiting a brothel. F-this and F-that. One time, I had to shhh the cussing  flight attendant as there was a little girl sitting in earshot of the galley. Seriously!  What was she thinking? 

Another time, I had a sweet young flight attendant announce to me that “She’s a fucking slut!”, when I told her that a passenger complained that her announcements were too fast. Well…that was unexpected! 

I guess the days of the ‘Pan Am stewardess’ are long over.

Moral of the story? Don’t piss off your flight attendant…just in case. 

{September 19, 2013}   The Forever Flight

Rain storms cause as much havoc to the aviation world as snow storms do.  If there is any lightning activity or the threat of impending lightning strikes,  then, boom, there is a red alert. Basically,  that means that the airport is temporarily  shut down. No outside activity whatsoever. The ramp personnel or ground staff have to stay indoors due to the risk of a lightning strike. It is too dangerous to be outside near all those metallic planes.

Without the ramp guys (ramp rats), planes cannot be marshalled into the gate area to be parked. Nor can they be towed the away towards the runway.  Ditto for loading and unloading passenger’ checked baggage. 

The worse is when you look outside and it appears to be a beautiful day but we have to announce to the passengers that we are delayed to weather and there’s a red alert/work stoppage because the threat of lightning is within a 50 mile radius. The passengers grumble and form their own conclusions that those ramp slackers are really just on a coffee break.  Not true! Well, usually not true…

On one of those fateful nights in July, the weather was not cooperating.  We managed to depart to New York before the skies got nasty, but coming back was going to be a whole other story.  On arrival into NY, we found out that all flights out of The Big Apple were canceled or delayed. 

We managed to get all our passengers onboard and then we waited at the gate as our arrival airport was presently thunder struck. Actually,  there were two planes trying to make the same 1 hour journey back to homebase. Ours and theirs. Our flight was just a little late and their flight was super duper late. But, they managed to push back from their gate a few minutes before ours. They taxied towards the runway.  We had started taxiing but parked off to the side of the airport to free up our gate. Then we waited and waited and waited some more. Two hours and forty-five minutes later, the captain announced that while we had  waited with the engines running,  we burned too much fuel to make the trip, so now we had to go back to the gate to refuel. Grumble. Grumble.

Of course,  as soon as we got there,  everyone powered up their cell phones,  tablets and laptops and discovered that the other airplane that had pushed back just before us, had already  landed at their destination over an hour ago. And WE were still stuck in New York in this metal flying tube. Well, that didn’t go over very well.  The shit hit the fan. They wanted answers and fast! The conspiracy theories were rampid.

I marched into the flight deck to see if I could get some info and diffuse the situation. 

I chatted with the first officer for several minutes. He explained to me that the other aircraft had gotten permission just after they had pushed back from the gate to fly low at 10,000 feet so that they could go below all the thunder and lightning storms. When the plane flies at a low altitude,  the plane flies slower and burns a lot more fuel.  But, since we always get extra fuel onboard,  it wasn’t an issue for them,  so off they went.

Meanwhile,  we were offered the same deal,  forty-five minutes later.  But, by then,  we had burned our extra fuel and wouldn’t have been able to make the flight all the way to the arrival airport at that lower altitude.

The captain disappeared into the terminal building to get a new flight plan and we offered passengers all the pretzels they could eat. And water too. Yum!

I heard stories from my passengers saying that they were “supposed to be on the other flight” but transferred onto this one because it was supposed to land earlier.  Well, me too. My crew and I were supposed to have operated the other flight but we were assigned this one instead due to our tardiness into New York.  Drats!

Finally,  four hours after we has initially pushed back from the gate,  we took off, enroute to our final destination.  Truthfully,  by then, the bad weather had subsided,  and the flight wasn’t too bumpy.  We were able to fly at a higher altitude and faster too. We finally landed at 2:00 AM . Us flight attendants were tired as we had just completed a 16 & a half duty day. 

Our passengers,  of course, we’re classy and thanked us for getting them home safely. 

et cetera