Chapter 13: Turbulence (& difficult passengers)

An excerpt of Chapter 13the FIRST draft!

13. 

“Welcome aboard!” said the flight attendant greeting passengers at the door.  Upon spotting a pair of cat eyed frames, she cooed, “Oh I love your eyeglasses!” 

“We’re not sitting together and it’s your problem!”

No longer did the funky frames look quite as cute paired with an evil glare and a pointing finger.  And passengers wonder why flight attendants aren’t always smiling. 

My faint smile, a nervous reaction that officially became labeled a “smirk” in a promised letter that never landed on my supervisor’s desk, once caused an upset passenger to go from angry to irate in a matter of seconds after he abruptly spun from the ticket counter, looked directly at me, and snarled, “This airline sucks!”  As if it were my fault.  It’s not that I didn’t feel for the guy, but what should I have done; nodded in agreement or explained to him why he might be wrong?  I mean really what is the proper response to constant scrutiny and verbal abuse?  I’d like to know before my next trip incase the next guy who doesn’t get an upgrade decides to take it out on me!  

“Hello, how are you?” is how I often greet passengers at the aircraft door during boarding, but after a  handful of passengers tell me exactly how they are, and how they were on their last trip, and why they’ll never fly my airline again, I’ll eventually shorten it to just plain “Hello.” Why roll out the red carpet and invite confrontation into my life if I don’t have to?  But sometimes even that one word will get shortened to a simple, yet very pleasant nod after a few of the hello’s go ignored long enough.  No one enjoys talking to themselves.  My life is crazy enough without having a one-sided conversation.   Although my flight attendant friend Mimi would disagree.  Some of the best conversations she’s ever had were with herself.  And that, dear reader, is why the airline hired her – er, us. 

A great mind I’ve never met, someone I follow on twitter, once suggested I channel Cesar Milan from the television show The Dog Whisperer and treat passenger aggression with firm but gentle responses.  The advice reminded me of the time I put my cat into a headlock and waited until I felt his body relax before releasing my grip in order to remind him who was in charge, exactly the same way Cesar Milan suggests on the show – except with dogs.  Not sure how well that would go over in first class, but it did work wonders on the cat – for about a day.  Of course it might be easier to spray bad passengers with a squirt bottle like some people do with pets when they act out.  Right before pressing the trigger I’d think, Take that Senator Schumer! For calling a flight attendant a bitch just because she asked him to turn off his cell phone before the boarding door had shut.  Then again meditation – a lot of meditation – is probably what I really need.  Only grabbing a beer and pulling an emergency chute sounds way easier and a lot more fun to me.  After the Jet Blue incident an ex flight attendant confided that she wishes she had pulled a Steven Slater before quitting her job. But instead of running across the tarmac and into the terminal with two cans of beer, she would have stood right there on the tarmac sipping straight from a bottle of first class Champagne while waving buh-bye to the plane.   And a future as a pilot, I reminded her…

Photo courtesy of Psyberartist

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