Sunday, November 20, 2011

How do you take your coffee? How do you take your coffee? How do you take your coffee?

Now, I'm not sure about anyone else, but whenever I go to a restaurant or to someone else's home, I am very clear that I enjoy my coffee black. No cream. No sugar. No half and half. No Nutra-Sweet. No Equal. No steamed milk. Just black. Period. I do not want anything else to show up in there. It's not necessary to put a spoon in my cup. Nor a carafe of cream at the side of my cup. Just a cup of coffee. Filled to the brim. Black.

One thing I've observed since starting this career is the fact that most people do not like to specify how they take their coffee. Nor do they understand what you're asking them when you offer them a drink. "Hello sir. Would you care for a beverage?" And then comes the inevitable deer-in-the-headlights stare. No answer. No smile. No nod. No "no thanks". Just a blank expression. I am pushing a 300 pound bar-cart up-hill (the plane flies at a slight incline) in high heels and I am handing you a cocktail napkin. What exactly do you *think* I'm asking you?

I find myself asking "How do you take your coffee?" somewhere around 28373739 million times per day.

The other entertaining portion of this job is eating in the back galley, after all the passengers have been served. Often times we are required to work 4 legs back-to-back without enough time to get off the plane. (Disclaimer: I am by no means complaining- I have chosen this lifestyle and I thoroughly enjoy it.) So anyhow, that leaves us working a 12 hour day sometimes, with no time to get off the plane and eat between flights. So we are fortunate enough to be provided with crew meals. Once our first beverage and meal service is done, we hover in the back, right next to the stinky airplane bathrooms and eat our dried-up chicken breasts. And sometimes passengers come back and ask for ginger ale, and I am happy to put down my shriveled, dried-up chicken breast and serve them their ginger ale. And then they say "Oh I didn't want ice". So I make them a brand new drink. Without ice. And sometimes they ask "Are you supposed to be eating on the job?" And I smile politely and say "Yes, I am." And then I spray air freshener, because the smell coming from the lavatory is making me gag and I don't want my shriveled-up chicken breast anymore.

It's very glamorous being a Stewardess.

Some of you were wondering where I got sent on that first night when it snowed. I got sent to Puerto Rico. Don't get too excited though. It was just a turn. A turn is a trip where you work one leg there and one leg back. So I left Newark around 11:30 PM by the time we were all de-iced, we landed in Aguadilla at 3:00 AM and then at 3:45 we were all boarded up again and we brought that plane right back to Newark, full of passengers. arriving a little before 8:00 AM. No warm cozy hotel bed, no long lay-over in a plush metropolitan Renaissance Inn. Just a return to the crash pad and a hard mattress on a bunk bed.

Rest assured, I have had some long layovers though. I just spent 34 hours in Bogota, Columbia. It was a mild 68 degrees and I roamed the streets, admiring the cosmopolitan atmosphere of the city. My favorite thing to do in foreign countries is to visit the supermarket. I wander the aisles and I buy strange foods and liquors. (We are exempt from that liquid-in-plastic-baggie rule on planes.) And I was in Dallas for 23 hours. I walked with the Captain and the First Officer to the "grassy knoll" and the JFK memorial museum at the former Book Depository. It was interesting, and it makes me wonder what really happened that day. Then I had very short lay-overs in Austin, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Just long enough to shower and sleep for a few hours. And there were lots of legs in between to glamorous places like Houston and Cleveland and such. My trip tomorrow has me dead-heading to Houston (easy- that means I simply show up in my uniform and then fly there with the passengers) and then I work from Houston to Fort Myers. Long-ish layover in a nice hotel. And then work Fort Myers back to Newark the day after that. Piece of cake!

I can sometimes pick my trips, if I'm coming from a day off. Except you can't work for more than six days in a row and you can only pick up trips that start at certain times and you can't go over a certain number of hours because they "level" Reserve Flight Attendant hours. And there are certain trips that a Senior Flight Attendant can "steal" from you and then you will be reassigned to another trip. The best thing I can compare it to is a game of Bridge. There are a lot of rules that they seem to make them up as they go along. And once you think you know a rule, you find out you were wrong, because there was some bizarre exception that no one ever told you about. I'll figure out this scheduling system one day.

Over-all I love this job. It is really enjoyable and I am learning so much. I know the average person changes careers like 4 times in his or her life, so I am glad to be keeping up with the status-quo. I haven't figured out the rules about how to trade days off and how to manipulate my time a little better, but I have been able to go to Raleigh once and to my beloved New York several times. My best friend provided me with a special treat last time- her job had given her tickets to the World Trade Center memorial and she had an extra one for me!
Look at the full moon shining above it in the photo. It was such a beautiful, peaceful night, and the memorial was very tastefully designed. The shiny silvery gleam you see at the bottom is a waterfall spilling into a pool. There are two of them and they were built on the footprints of the two towers.

New York will always be my favorite city. No matter what. As much as I am passionate about visiting new cities around the world, and about my upcoming adventures, sometimes I yearn to be in Gotham again. Forever. It is strange living in New Jersey and being on the outside, looking in. I am so close I can taste it, yet not quite there. There is a song by Coldplay and there is a line that goes "....and now I sweep the streets I used to own." This reminds me of how I feel when I come into the city. Now I am no different from any other visitor, just a mere peasant, back to the bottom of the ranks. I don't own these streets anymore. And for that matter- I don't really live in North Carolina anymore either, although my belongings are there and my car has a license plate from there, and my PO box is there. Ohio hasn't been my home for many many years, but my Cat and my family are there. New Jersey doesn't really feel like home either, even though I am based here. The crash pad is nice and convenient and cheap and close to the airport, but it doesn't feel like a "home" per se. I am in domestic limbo. I suppose one day I'll have a home with my Kitty curled up in my lap, and with the love of my life to cuddle with every night, and with a wonderfully scented kitchen.....maybe a crockpot on the counter, slow-cooking a pot roast. And perhaps a fire in the fireplace. And an actual designated spot for my car, not just street parking. And some seniority at my airline, so that I have a little more control over my schedule. And a choice of where I am going to go. And a desk with my calendar and my schedule printed out, sitting on top of it.

......And most definitely a pot of coffee brewing. (I take it black, by the way. )