Sunday, June 6, 2010

Hopefully the Worst is Behind Us

So we got back a couple of days ago from a quickly planned trip to Asheville, NC where Erik had a job interview for a new call. I was granted unpaid leave for June 1st and 2nd, which gave us four days to make the trip and get back.

The interview seemed to go well, and hopefully the congregation will be letting him know in the next few days if they would like him to come back for a second interview, most likely mid-July. The good news is that the family seemed to like the change in scenery that Asheville would bring - lots and lots of green, and no cow poop smell in the air. The bad news is that to stay at my current airline I would have to commute, and not an easy commute. Brings me lots of stress, but I'm trying not to focus on that for the time being. We are researching my options, though, just to stay as informed as possible.

Due to weather issues in Atlanta, which is the city we flew in and out of, we weren't able to get on our first two flight choices. Erik and the girls ended up spending the night at Van's, while I caught a late night Delta flight to Denver. They treated me very well: a seat in first class and lots of friendly attention. Thanks, guys!

It was vital that I get home that night because I had a stand-alone duty day for June 3rd, and of course I got assigned a LaGuardia turn for the morning of the 3rd. I ended up spending the night in the quiet room in the crew lounge. The good news is that I got to fly in the back with my new friend, Tonya, who always makes flying a lot of fun. The day was very long (8.5 hours block time), but thanks to her it flew by - no pun intended.

But to get to the title of this post, with the worst being the financial nightmares we've had the last six months, thanks to Erik's former congregation refusing to pay him the agreed-upon severance package. My last paycheck was FINALLY a full paycheck, plus per diem, for the first time since December! He has lots of supply preaching gigs lined up for the rest of the summer, and we finally feel like we are able to hold our heads a little bit better above water. I AM hopeful that with these things, plus the new job prospect in NC, that we have weathered the worst and have good things ahead.

And now, though it is 8:30 am and I just got up 2.5 hours ago, it is off to bed soon again for me. I have a two-leg red-eye tonight, and I'm not quite sure how I'm going to survive it awake. With me, sun comes up - eyes open; sun goes down - eyes close. At this point I can only hope that a nice, long Ambien induced nap today will be enough to get me through until our 12 hour rest in Milwaukee tomorrow morning. Nite-nite.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Boarding Nightmares

I started my five days on call this week with a 6 am ready reserve couch sit. I was enjoying a nice quiet sit with two of my classmates when the three of us were called out for an Indianapolis overnight.

We quickly decided who would work what position, and I ended up with the "C" position - working the main cabin during boarding. Both flights were uneventful, for the most part, but this morning's boarding process was one of those inexplicably crazy ones where anybody and everybody needs something, usually while standing in the middle of the aisle, blocking everyone else.

First, I had a pregnant lady who needed me to lift her bag into the overhead bin (which was too fat, by the way). I explained about my recent shoulder surgery, but told her we could lift it together and share the weight, after we had taken a couple of things out of the front pocket, making it actually fit into the overhead bin.

Next was a lady traveling alone with three kids, one a lap child. Her seats, naturally, were not all together, and she wanted to know could I ask someone to move so she could sit with all three. I explained we would try, and she could ask her fellow passengers as she got to her row. Five minutes later I realized boarding had bottle-necked and saw some discussion taking place over boarding passes. It was the same Mom with those 3 little ones, and it looked like we had a seat dupe, only we didn't. In her frazzled state, she was looking at the boarding passes for her next, connecting flight and had seated them (with all their various detritus) in the totally wrong row - 6 rows back from where they should be. Of course. I finally got that mess straightened out, by letting them stay seated and asking pax assigned to those seats to simply switch with her (hey, how would you like to sit a lot closer to the front of the plane? wink, wink), then dealt with a lady who had spilled coffee on her white shirt while juggling her carry-ons, and checked into why the gate agent had asked another woman to gate check her bag - it, too, was way too over-stuffed to fit into the bin.

Next, I tried to soothe the couple in one of the exit rows who were very irritated that their seats didn't recline. Even though we had a few open seats and I invited them to move to one that did recline once the seat belt sign was off, it didn't help. They oozed an annoyed, put-upon air the entire flight. Darn that safety stuff, interfering with our 2 extra inches of comfort on a 2 hour flight!

Lastly, I worked with the last two rows, re-arranging a large family traveling together who had two lap children, and who were both assigned seats in the same row of 3. Can't have that - that would have been five folks with only four air masks. Luckily, they grasped the problem very quickly and one of the teenaged sons piped up and said, "Oh! I'll trade! No problem!"

By the time we closed the main cabin door, I was frazzled and exhausted myself. But no moment to dwell - time to arm doors, do the safety demo, and then compliance for take-off! Whew! Thank goodness for those few thousand feet of climbing time to take a deep breath and re-group!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Miss Me?

Yeah....I knew you didn't. Anyway, I was reading through my old posts and discovered I really do enjoy jotting down what happens to me in this crazy job. I just got out of the habit. I will try to do better.

Two major factors of my not blogging in the last year, though:

1) Erik lost his job six months ago. It's been a sad and depressing situation, and that makes it hard to focus on silly things like a blog.

2) I fell in our hotel on a layover on Thanksgiving Day and hurt my shoulder. I had surgery in January, but was not flying for 5 months. I've now been back for 3 weeks, and all is going well.

Did I mention it's been a rough year? More to come later...

Friday, June 5, 2009

Welcome to Maine!

With Erik's vacation and my 9 days in a row off, we decided to fly to Maine to spend a few days with Erik's old college roommate, Leni and his wife, Kim. There are four lovely girls in their house ages 14, 5, 2 and 4 months. It's a busy household!

We got passes for the family on AirTran, that being the best option for us to get from Colorado to Portland, ME. It should have been 3 flights for us: Denver-Atlanta-Baltimore-Portland, but after the flight to Atlanta was full we ended up taking a Frontier flight to Reagan airport in DC, then taking the Metro train and a bus to Baltimore, then catching up with an AirTran flight to Portland. Leni picked us up and after another hour and a half drive, we arrived at their house about 7:30 pm local time. Whew! It was a long travel day, but could not have gone more smoothly considering non-revenue travel. So guess what? You CAN "get theah from heah!"

We had a late supper of authentic New England clam chowder and crab cakes, got an incredibly good night sleep and are now on our way to go explore the Maine coast, which is fogged in today, so we will also get to experience some authentic Maine lighthouse foghorn sounds. Cool....

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Top 5 Unusual Tips

There are so many wonderful tips out there that we flight attendants eagerly share with each other as we're jetting back and forth, and many of them are so widely known, I don't feel I need to share them here. Instead, I thought I would give a short list of some of the more unusual tips I've received (and grown to love) that don't relate to travelling in general, but focus mostly on smoothing our job-related tasks. My favorites, from 5 to the number one:

5. As I'm serving beverages and empty a can, I flip the pop-top up to a vertical position to signal an empty can. That way as I'm cleaning out the cart at the end of service, I know at a glance which cans still have liquid in them, and which cans can be recycled or thrown away.

4. Our airbuses have a couple of round vents in all the galleys, so an easy, free way to freshen the air in the galley is to tear those perfume cards out of fashion magazines, roll them up and insert them in the vent. The air blows across the card and subtly perfumes the air.

3. Sanitary napkins are made to be absorbent! When I spill something in the galley, I just peel the sticky back off of a sanitary napkin, stick it to the bottom of my shoe and skate the spill away. Sounds disgusting, works incredibly well and saves a bunch of c-fold napkins.

2. Something I just discovered on my last trip: a combination of hot sauce and alcohol wipes will take chewing gum right off a seat belt buckle.

And my favorite tip, especially for dead-headers or those on extended airport appreciation time:

1. Blow up a beach ball about half-way, stick it inside a pillow case and voila! Cheap travel pillow! You can rest your head more comfortably on the tray table this way, or wedge it between your head and the plane window. Very malleable, and surprisingly comfortable. When you're done, let the air back out of the beach ball, fold it up and it takes up practically no space in your bag. Love it!

What are your favorite tips that have made this job easier?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Obviously, I Wasn't Fine!

Sorry about the previous post, guys. My computer hiccuped just after I typed the title, and posted my blog with no content. I immediately went back to edit my post, but fifteen minutes later, edit almost complete, my computer hiccuped again and shut itself off, so my edited post wasn't saved. At that point, I said, "Forget it! I'm going to bed!" and decided I'd just fix it today.

I got back last night from a 6 leg, two day trip worth 13.50 hours, with only 9 hours of rest on the ground at our layover. The truly humorous thing to me is that my post was all about how my esteemed colleagues and I just couldn't seem to get anything right on this trip. And my screwing up yesterday evening's post just sort of proves my point!

But the passengers were having problems, too: a gentleman spilled a brand new cup of Bloody Mary mix all over his khaki-panted lap and seatbelt; several passengers had to run back for things usually not forgotten, like laptops and suitcases; and somebody got chewing gum all over both parts of the buckle on their seatbelt.

As for the flight attendants: during one safety demo, the fa completely blanked on the words "flotation devices for children", much to the passengers amusement; later on, she verified over the PA that the aft doors were "disarmed", when we were actually arming them for take-off. The fa in the front almost told us to prepare for arrival over the PA, when we were actually preparing for departure, but caught herself at the last minute.

Me? I kept dropping things. I dropped a full can of Pepsi, which exploded all over the galley; while I was cleaning it up, I knocked a cup of diet Dr. Pepper off the shelf onto the floor; I couldn't remember for 10 seconds what anybody's drink order was, especially if there was extra conversation, and worst of all - I (gently) dropped a VERY heavy bag on a gentleman's head while I was trying to help a woman put it in the overhead bin. Even though I think part of the reason I lost my grip is because it was at least 60 pounds, I was still mortified. Luckily the gentleman had a great sense of humor:

Me: "Sir, I'm so sorry about that bag. Are you ok?"
Him: "Sorry, I can't understand you, due to my new brain damage."
Me: "Oh! Well, I was actually going to comp your TV for you today as an apology, but since you can't understand me anyway....."
Him: "I'm healed!"

Was it a full moon, or was it holiday weekend leftovers? I don't know, but sometimes trips take on a personality of their own. Thank goodness I was flying with kind, professional ladies who both had wonderfully funny personalities. It made all the frustration over brain-farts humorous and uplifting instead of downheartening, as they sometimes can be. And I knew, and think they did, too, that even though we made mistakes, we still knew what we were doing and had the safety thing in full control. We just had little "human" moments along the way!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009