Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I'm Still Standing

There simply must be something amazing about this job for me not to have quit after this horrific four day. I think a lot of how a trip goes, and the mind set for it originates as an inflight crew member, occurs while getting ready. For this particular trip, I was quick called (which is when scheduling gives you two hours to get to the airport). My check-in was at 2:20; I found out about the trip at 12:15, giving me 45 minutes to shower, do my sexy flight attendant hair and makeup, while packing for four days. I prefer to allot myself an hour and a half for this process - needless to say I was less than pleased to be rushed. Luckily I had just finished breakfast and my morning joe (as in coffee, not you... whatever you're thinking, stop that JoeCo). I didn't bother to do my makeup, I knew I'd be in the terminal with an hour to spare. Normally, when I'm getting ready to fly I like to drink a lot of water before I even set foot on the plane. Since I didn't have a chance to, I got a bottle at the airport and paid enough to feed starving children in the third world for a week.

The first day of the trip was to Boston, back, and to Boston again for the downtown layover. In the magical land of holding a line, line holders can drop a turn if it is the first or last part of the trip. So the person who's trip it was dropped the first to Boston and back part, and we got the luck of the Irish. I was supposed to work first class, but as soon as we got on this Irish maiden announced that she was serving in first. Being the junior, reserve, non-line holder attendant, I kept my mouth shut and went with it. Regardless of our working position, we were still going to have to share the jumpseat. For those who are unfamiliar with northeast traffic as well as geothermal processes, Boston turns are not fun. Not only had hot air been rising all day creating turbulence and thunderstorms, the air traffic is comparable to the morning commute in Houston, LA, NYC metro, etc. It's just bad. We lucked out with only a 20 minute delay, waiting in line to take off. The Irish Mob Boss and I chowed down on some honey roasted peanuts and discussed growing up and children these days. The turbulence wasn't anything I hadn't already experienced, but it was hot on the aircraft. Due to the short duration of the flight, we opted to do a juice and water serve as opposed to pulling out the bar cart. This meant I was in the back pouring drinks the whole time. I called the pit to have them turn on the air but I was not feeling well at all. Once we began our initial decent, the pit called to tell us it was going to be bumpy and to be seated. I had left extra trash bags on the other jumpseat, and boy was I glad I did. As we were coming in for final, I could feel it coming. I pulled my hair into a ponytail, grabbed a bag, turned to the Irish senior mama, said "this is so embarrassing" and proceeded to hurl til we touched down. Once we were on the ground, I went to into the bathroom and stayed there until the passengers were off. I was so thankful that we had a two hour ground stop in Boston. I got to step outside of the jetway for a few minutes to catch some fresh air, which was hot and humid, and took an hour nap. I was miserable.

On our return leg, after we finished the service, Irish McBossy announced that if we didn't open the door by 8:30 she was going to be illegal for her trip tomorrow. This began a conversation about FARs (federal aviation regulations) and our contract. She was annoyed by the fact that I was not carrying my contract (um... hello? I do believe that you have your own copy that you can carry with you at all times if it is of such importance). The lead didn't really care, and wouldn't find anything to really care about until day two of our trek across country. We landed at 8:19, and when we got to the gate, we were missing the jet way driver. Red Head called to the lead and asked him to crack the door open so she wouldn't go illegal. He said okay and did nothing (she didn't know that - I was highly amused when I found out later). Once inside the terminal building, we came to learn that our next flight back to Boston was indeed delayed. We were waiting on aircraft coming from Denver, that had an unscheduled fuel stop in Cleveland. That's bad. Once those passengers did disembark, I've never seen a more pissed off looking crowd. Our third leg was NOT a repeat of the first, and rather uneventful. And I got to be in first class.

Layover was uneventful. Went jogging in Boston Common, which is small but beautiful. Ate the most amazing cookie ever - it was a key lime sugar cookie from Au Bon Pain, and is totally my new favorite cookie in the world. Anyway, our van was scheduled to leave at 3:30 and we knew we were delayed 1 hr 50 minutes before we even left the hotel. I hate being at an out station and having to hide from angry passengers who can't comprehend the fact that just because the sun is shining in Boston doesn't mean that there aren't thunderstorms in Houston. At first, we didn't mind the delay because we were scheduled to have sit time before our next flight to Salt Lake City. After this, we thought that we would just board and get going on the next one. Boy were we wrong.

While en route, we found out that our new departure time was 1:35 am. As in the morning. Meaning almost a 5 hour delay. The captain said he would call ops and all these people to see what he could finagle. As it would turn out, he got reassigned to go to Phoenix; we sat in the airport until 1 am at the gate. Thankfully, the Salt Lake crowd was nice and understanding; perhaps they were all Mormon? Whatever, it was nice. So now we're sitting in the terminal, captain-less when the nosy gate agent comes over and wants to verify the information before he makes an announcement. So I go with him to the secret gate agent office, and one of the many scheduling/ops gods and I began to discuss our situation: would we be legal? yes. Do you have a captain for us? no. He had no idea that our captain had been reassigned. Had he not have been, there was an aircraft sitting at the gate next door we could have taken and left at 11. The lead was on the phone with scheduling and ops trying to get us a hotel room for the delay (we only get one if it is scheduled to be at least 5 hours, not weather related). Moreover, the captain who was assigned to us was on the Boston flight that left after ours. AND he refused the trip! I suppose he claimed fatigue; we started to get a little excited. Alas, there was a non-reving captain trying to get on our flight. Not because he lived in Salt Lake, he lived in Vegas and had been released from flight training due to lack of legal rest. He volunteered his services. We spit in his coffee. The passengers appreciated it. We had been up since 9 or 10 am EST. Once everyone was boarded, they called scheduling again just to verify that we weren't going to go illegal. Could you imagine? As a passenger, sitting in the terminal, listening to the crew discuss if they were going to be legal or not, determine they were, board, and then come to find out they were not? Mutiny. Worse than having snakes on a plane.

Begrudgingly, we left Houston at 1:30 and promptly arrived in Salt Lake at 4:15 local time. I was in my hotel room by 4:55, and asleep by 5. That's 7 am EST. Woke up, went to Denny's, walked around the city. It was interesting to see the lack of historical stuff; downtown reminded me a lot of LA in the sense that it was designed with the car in mind and not what I would consider pedestrian friendly. While I was on my way back, I was accosted by two homeless men. Not your normal sitting quiet with a sign or asking politely if you have spare change; it was more like 'hey, do you have money so I can eat? no? I just wanted a burger and fries' to the point where you almost don't want to be nice or helpful because you feel so harassed. I just made my way back to the hotel and sat out by the pool. And got major sunburn on my chest, arms and legs; I was only out for 90 minutes. Went back to my room, took a four hour nap, and headed to Wendys. While I was enjoying my #5 some drugged out homeless man came in and started cursing out everyone in the place, begging someone to go out and fight him. Rather disturbing, I mean it's not exactly how things go down in the Twp's Wendys. I had to wait a few minutes for him to leave, and then I left taking a different route back to the hotel. While I was at the street corner, waiting to cross, this weirdo comes riding his bike down the sidewalk telling me to watch out (nicely, not harshly). Then he strikes up a conversation about how mean the drug dealers are here, and how they rip you off. I just said that drug dealers are mean people, and I am not involved in that. Then the light changed, and the next thing I knew, he was riding his two wheeler into the lobby of the hotel I was staying out - since he was riding he made it in there before me. He was at the front desk, and I made a mad dash into the elevator and felt like I barely made it out of there alive.

By the time I got back to my room, I had two hours to get ready before buns on the van time. So I showered, started to go about my routine when it hit me. I then spent multiple intervals of time fighting N. Lichtenberg epic battles between trying to put make up on and get all my stuff back into my suitcase. It was not pretty. I had two Imodium in my bag, thanks to me mammy. She never leaves home without it and always has a box of it in her purse. I only had the two, and had to get more from the gift shop. And had to take it at the airport. Did I mention that our plane was delayed about an hour? So now I'm sitting in the terminal hopped up on Imodium, wanting to rip off my uniform because my skin is burning. Pure misery. The only good part was the fact that we were working a red eye, and all the little peoples went to sleep. Except for the guy who drank six minis worth of Jack. The thing that amazed me the most was after all that, I was standing at the back of plane before we landed home, looking down the aisle thinking "damn, I have the best job in the world and there's no where else I'd rather be." Then again, it may have been the dehydration, Imodium, or exhaustion speaking...

1 comment:

Joe said...

Haha, I wasn't thinking that. I was hoping that. But not thinking it. Sounds like you had a great time. I can't believe you puked...that's great!

Ha. I thought you'd like Utah with all those christians around. You must have been in heaven.