Charlywalker's Blog

{November 2, 2013}   One Flew Over The Blog’s Nest.

I am amazed every day how fast time passes. Why it seems like only yesterday I was jumping into my size 4 designer jeans and meeting up with friends for an evening of fun and frolic that lingered into the wee hours where you would stumble home just in time to change your shoes to start another days work .  Maybe spritz a little body spray over the missed areas from your ten second shower, then shake your locks into a full upright position and grab anything from the fridge that didn’t contain mold and dangle it between your teeth as you start up the cold car to head out to your 10 hour day of public service.

Amazing how one could disguise the afore nights  festivities with a little make up and a breath mint, but then, who would notice if you forgo the morning shower when your career peeks at 35,000 feet staged with Bloody Mary requests, screaming babies, and smoking beyond rows 24.  Not one passenger would suspect that you had been out the night before enjoying  Carribean Mai Tai’s and escargot stuffed in mushrooms caps until 2 a.m.  Not a one.  Nor would they notice the pounding a head takes from dehydration, jet engines, and lack of oxygen.  OXYGEN.   Small green tanks  located behind designated rows of seats that are inspected and rendered full before each flight takes off for their destination.  Rendered Full….unless the crew that occupied the plane before you happened to be out the night before their flight. Or, on a rare occasion, some passenger required a portion of that bottled gas for a minor complaint, like anxiety, or maybe a few heart palpitations, or in one case, a woman experiencing early contractions right after take off, with nothing but two hours of ocean waters ahead.

I will tell you this, there is nothing more frustrating as you try to convince a non- English speaking pregnant passenger: “That everything will be just fine”, while racing through the cabin pulling pins on secured O2 canisters and finding  them all empty. Nothing.    Particularly since I had reserved one for myself. Nothing cures a hangover like a little fresh air….

It was at that moment I had decided to attempt some Spanish that I picked up on while based in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I sat with the pregnant passenger and  held her attention with the art of my inept broken language. She seem to calm down as her Braxton Hicks attempted to quiet themselves.  The quizzical look that spread across her face as I proceeded with my quasi Espanol repertoire, may have been a  hefty contributor to her new found demeanor. As It was later explained to me by a bilingual passenger, that I was telling her to; ” stow her belly under the seat” and ” the aircraft is safe with her Bambino in the overhead compartment”.

It wasn’t my fault I lacked proficiency in that language. I was 19 and a half and had four years of an accredited language to my credentials. German.  It was very difficult trying to utilize my German speaking talent on a plane full of Puerto Rican’s flying into Miami, however,  I did happen across a situation where my Bravarian skills came in handy.  There was an unattended child on the aircraft flying from the Islands to New York and he only spoke German.  The head Flight Attendant asked if any crew member was fluent in the little Liebchen’s language, so naturally I  jumped at the chance to show off the “A+”  I received  from my high school German teacher; Freuline Heidleberg. I gave her that title based on all her anecdotal stories about the local Hofrbrauhaus’ she encountered while traveling abroad.  Not to mention her breath wreaked of Brew-ha-ha during class time.

The Deutschland child was all of eight years of age and traveling alone to meet his parents at his destination. The Senior Stew mentioned to me that he seemed distressed while seated in his First class seat awaiting take off.  As I sat next to him I started the conversation with my learned textbook from grade 10; ” Auf Deutsch!”.  I began with what I could recall from lesson one:  “Hello, my name is Ludwiga, what is your name, and , have you seen  my black dog”.  Forgetting that Ludwiga was the German name assigned to me throughout the  entire four years of High School. Every other female student received cute frilly names like, Anja, Brigitte, or Gretchen.  I hated that Ludwiga name and Freuline Heidleberg knew it. I stuffed numerous requisitions for a name change in Freuline Heidleberg’s suggestion box, but my requests were  continually denied. She didn’t like me much, It might have had to do with the time I interrupted one of her  European  Beer adventure stories with a giant belch.

I shortened the name Ludwiga and scrolled ” LuLu”  in black felt pen onto my name tag  taped to my table top situated in the front row facing  Heidleberg’s desk.  I think I won this one as the following class day, Ms. Brew-ha-ha herself gleefully slipped me a note with a newly assigned Name:  BRUNHILDE.

It was later I learned that Brunhilde in German meant, Ready For Battle.  It was then decided I would notoriously autographed all my homework with my new moniker: ” xoxo HILDY”.

After ten minutes of trying to correct the German child seated in 2A that my name was not Ludwiga, I managed to get a handle on his agitated state. From what I could manage to decipher in my broken translation, the boy was “looking for a  Lost Man”.  I inquired about this Lost Man. The German child proceeded to rattle off descriptions faster than the speed of this plane. I filtered out the tough jargon that flew past me due to the the one day I decide to skip Freuline Heidlberg’s class  that covered the gigantic terms, and  stayed focused on the familiar basics that was covered in Lesson two.  The words I gathered out of this eight year old Bravarian’s dialect were: “Man, Hat, , Airplane, Lost, Seat , flew, and Captain”.  These were the words I elected to translate after we took off.

I still did not fully comprehend what this little German Strudel was trying to convey to me. The child was frantic and  was trying to pull up his seat cushion and arm rests, and pull on his tray table, as he spewed words from the Third Reich. He kept shouting the word Captain over and over.  I told him I would “find the Captain”, and to remain seated with his seat belt fastened, all in broken German.  After the plane leveled I tapped the secret Crew knock on the cockpit door. I entered a bit frazzled and told the captain about the German boy in seat 2A who described a lost man in a uniform that is a captain and how it could be serious as this could be a relative of the child’s who missed the flight. That we may have to turn the plane around as this child is presumed an unattended flyer.  The captain question my language ability with the boy and “did I get the story right?”.  I reassured him I had, and touted my four years of accomplished skills and getting an A+.   The flight Captain and first officer looked at me, then at each other as if they were deciding to flip a coin  to see  who would leave their seat which encompassed a freshly brewed cup of  hot coffee.  The First Officer lost the toss.

We walked out to our unattended Munchkin sitting calmly in his seat playing with two action figures on his tray table. I spoke to the German Lad and mentioned I have the First Officer and we need to know how serious this Lost Man situation is, because the Captain will have to turn the plane around and that is very costly.  The German Urchin looked up from the two toys clenched in his fists shaped like the Hindenburg and announced proudly in his native tongue ;     “that he found the Lost Man”.

The First Officer looked at me as I turned as green as the little army action figure that he was waving in front of my face.  A Captain America Action figure  wearing a hat that Flew out of his makeshift Hand airplane and fell into the crevice only to get Lost into the Seat cushions of Row 2A & B.      I’m sure this went down well in the Captain’s Log.

They say being up in the skies constantly can have an effect on your oxygen levels.  Might cause a slight impairment resulting in some conversations getting lost in translation. Might make one think that after taking some high school language classes they are adept in handling peace talks within the United Nations. Might make one think twice before volunteering their hyperbolic  language skills so freely.  Might want to cap that talent. Might want to keep their mouth shut and just serve coffee……

Spread the humor.

Continuing on with the parody of entering the Airline world, back when the dinosaurs roamed, and First Class served meals on real china…….not made in China……..

My adventures with this airline flew me across the country miles away from my family and landed me on a small island in the Caribbean. It is pronounced Cah-RIB-Be-an…if you are to be  a local. Most folks take on the pirated Johnny Depp’s annunciation: CARE- a -BEE-an.  Well, if Johnny Depp was pilfering Puerto Rico when I was living there who in their right mind would focus on Grammar……

My first stop before heading off to the assigned base in San Juan, was a six week layover in Miami for training. I managed to meet up with another chosen trainee on my flight to Florida, as she was from Oregon, and after chatting for what seemed like eight hours, we decided to share a cab to our hotel; The Villa’s. aka….Stew Zoo.

  Ms. Oregon and I were not accustomed to cabs and neglected to add a tip to our fare as we wrestled with our chump change laughing at the bottom of our purses.  The driver stood in disbelief as he fingered the coins and darted after us yelling something in Cuban.  Ms. Oregon turned  around and flipped him an added gesture with her free hand. I stopped to dig deeper in my pockets while Ms. Oregon was long gone halfway down the walkway to The Villa’s.  I was left with Scar face wielding and empty open palm in my direction.  I felt my Airline funding from my parents was dwindling before I even started the job…..

When we entered the Hotel, the lobby contained two genre’s of patrons:  “New Stews” and ” Lot’s of off the cuff men lingering after a busy day at Hialeah Race track.   The “Stew Group” sat in a designated mosh pit and awaited their Commander and Chief to assign their rooms and deliver vagrant instructions.  I was hoping to room with Ms. Oregon, but ended up  with Miss Midwest.

While unpacking our allotted one suitcase only, my roomie and I went over the itinerary and rules for our six week stay:

1) There will be Three meal times: 8:00am Breakfast, 12:00pm Lunch, and 6:00pm dinner. Should you miss any of these time you will not be allowed in the cafeteria, and no compensation for missing meals.

2) There is a curfew: In rooms by 9:00pm and bed check at 10:00pm. Should you not be present during these times you will be sent home.

3) Never miss class, unless there is an emergency or illness.

4) Never miss your assigned Fam Flight. Familiarization flight, there is only one, and no make-ups.

5) No bringing anyone to your rooms. Cause to be sent home.

6) There is one day dedicated to make-up and hair, must be present and abide by the Airline standard.

7) There will be random “Weigh -ins” at the Airline’s discretion.

8) You must present yourself professionally at all times, remember you are representing the Airline.

9) No alcohol.

10) Welcome aboard “The Wings of MAN”. See you at 8:00am sharp!

My first week there I broke rule number one.

We had some free time and I went to the beach with my roomie.  We managed a ride out there and did not secure a return trip back to The Villa’s. We were about eight miles from our Villa and it was getting to the dinner hour.  Most of the trainees came with a minimal amount of money as the airline suggested, and thus money was to be used to secure your living quarters when you settled at your new Base. Not for shopping.   My roomie and I used some of it in a few designer stores that screamed our names out as we passed by.  We bought new outfits during our “free time” at the beach.  We also realized we were short funds for a cab and the clock was ticking for our nightly room visit by the Airline Gestapo.

As Miss Michigan and I started to walk , and she was complaining about “not getting back in time”,  and “getting thrown out in our first week”, and “these stupid shoes are killing her feet”.    I  wanted to stick my thumbs in my ears, but decided to flag my hand out and trail my thumb along the  roadside towards traffic.  My roommate was horrified and slapped my hand down and proceeded to lecture on “deaths of hitchhikers”.  I told her who in their right mind would mess with two sunburned girls wearing new designer clothing?

I stuck my thumb out again. She slapped it down..again.  I slapped her hand back and there we were having a hand slapping conversation along the roadside dressed in Miami white pants and matching peach tops scuffing our decorative jeweled sandals. As we stood there slapping Patty-cake, a vintage beige Bentley pulled up with a shaggy haired bespectacled -what looked like an aging rock star- behind the wheel and he asked us if we needed a ride.

I grabbed the door handle and  then said “yes” before Miss Michigan objected. I tugged her too tight top into the back seat and blurted a “Thank you” to the driver.  He asked our destination and I told him “The Villa’s”.  He asked if we were Flight Attendants.  I said yes we were and we needed to get back to our rooms before curfew.

Our ride was not that long, and started out in complete silence.  My roommate kept darting hate stares at me and whispering heated words about , “Duct tape and Pick axes in the trunk……”.

The shaggy driver asked us if we “liked music” and stated he had “started a new band” and would we “like to hear his tape”.  Simultaneously we said Yes. Miss Michigan leaned over to me and exclaimed in my ear: “Music soothes the savage beast”…apparently she still had shades of Ted Bundy running through her head.

The driver and I conversed about his new band and as we were getting closer to our destination I asked him about  his Old Band. His former band.  As he pulled into the back parking lot of The Villa’s and stopped to let us out, he turned around and said:  “Oh.. I was the key-board player for The Doors.“.

I popped out of the car and smiled at my roommate. Ray Manzarek was our driver.  THIS is why you buy designer clothes when attempting to hitch hike…..

As it turned out we made it in time for bed check, however, we neglected to eat anything and my stomach was aching. Mostly because I could have held intense conversations with Mr. Manzarek about Jim  Morrison, but, instead, chose to fan off  the continuum  buzzing in my ear from my mid-western roommate about Hitch hikers and  Serial killers.

It was my stomach growling that lead me to break rule number two………

( to be continued…)

I have made  passing references about my past as an airline flight attendant, but did I ever fill you in on how I became one?

First I should inject that this was a career I had over thirty years ago and the Airline is no longer in service.  No….it is not in the Smithsonian………but parts of it are in the Museum of flight exhibit.  I happened upon this when I took my kids on a trip to Washington DC to view some history.  Little did I know I would stumble across a notable prop plane with my daughter at my side pointing out to her friends that it has the same Logo that is on her mom’s  Stewardess wings now collecting dust in a Jewelry box…

When most high school graduates were sending in their SAT scores to prospective colleges, my mind was set on traveling the wonders of the world, and I did not see my self scoring a place and having to SAT my seat in front of a desk thumbing through textbooks.  I knew what I didn’t want to do but not quite sure what I wanted to do.  I was the last of four children and I’m sure my parents were tapping their happy feet for me to venture out.  OUT of the house.

I came home one day and told my mother I decided I want to be a flight attendant.  My mother’s reply to that staement went a little like this: ” Why?….Any idiot can do that.”.  Well, being that my grades were in the toilet at the time, and Harvard and Yale were not Knock-knock-knockin’ on my door… fact no college was knocking….not even a light tap-tap was audible;  I decided to succumbed to my  mothers statement and went to all available ticket counters at our local airport to  fill out an  application that might send this Idiot abroad.

My first interview and rejection was from a large airline that UNITED their fleet all over the globe.  I returned home feeling distraught and feeling the FOOL and now realizing that I’m one less idiot that can’t make the cut.  My mother sat in the living room reading her morning paper and sipping a cup of java as I entered the house with my head lowered fighting back the tears and laughing on the wrong side of the mouth.  I crept in down the hallway and headed straight to my room to wallow in my defeat.  Without looking up from her Dear Abby column she slung the words toward me:

“ did it go?”

I gave her my results through a broken voice :

“They said  Thank you for coming……………NEXT!

My mother folded the Times and placed it on her lap and looked at me. She could see the disappointment I endured and then uttered a few sentences that went like this:

“You know why they didn’t hire you?  You’re too pretty for that airline.  Your father and I fly that airline all the time and those girls are not easy on the eyes.”

Then she offered to call my father who knew the CEO of that airline to help me along with the process.  I rolled my teary eyes at her and her backhanded compliment and declined her offer.  This idiot doesn’t need a helping hand……

Out of the Ten or so applications I sent out to become a flight attendant three responded back with proposed interview dates.  The first was the afore mentioned above, the second was from an EASTERN company that I had never heard of because I was a local from the Pacific Northwest.  I had it set in my mind to handle this interview differently. I decided to let fate and nature take its course.

I borrowed a suit from a girlfriend that was one size too big, and clipped my long brown hair into a studious undocked tail of a pony.  My make up was subdued and my pantyhose the color of the Ivory coast with my feet locked into someone’s leftover Nun’s shoes.  I was the ugly Idiot determined to go abroad…..

I walked into the entrance of the building shuffling my shoes along the linoleum when something hit me in the pit of my stomach……….

It was yesterday’s enchilada.

I raced to the concierge for directions to the nearest restroom and made it to the porcelain thrown as chili peppers held an emergency evacuation of last nights dinner.  I sat there in all my glory emptying contents and thoughts of missing my interview based on some bad beans.   I fled from the scene of the chyme and raced upstairs to make my appointment.  I hurried to the designated office and flew through the doors only to be greeted by a room full of life like Barbie’s.  There they were aligned in a U- shaped formation around the room……….forty girls, beautiful, tall, perfectly postured, trimmed, sleek, impeccably dressed with Ultra- Brite smiles.

I crossed the room to take the final seat and sat there as my pony tail flogged the person next to me and my stomach growled Beethoven’s 9th……

An Airline rep entered the room and called out half the names to follow her and the second half remain in the room.  I was left in the room.  It was then I was ready to accept the fated realization that who in their right mind would hire this plain Idiot in an over sized hounds tooth printed attire shifting in their chair stressing to suppress  a symphony of Gas.  I should just relieve myself of this ill-fated agony ……Well that would be one way to clear the room of competition….

In those hours I managed a few trips to the ladies room, hoping I wouldn’t be marked “absent” for my upcoming interview.  I was the last person called, and as the interviewer approached me I detected a wince emanating from her face as she ushered in her last candidate into her office who looked more like a Cabbage Patch Kid left out in the back yard too long  than a prospective Airline Stewardess.

The Interview lasted over an hour and most the time it was filled with visual scrutiny and few ” ah yes….” and “Hmmm” as she scribbled addendum’s into her notebook.  She ended with the usual  “Thank you” and shook my hand.  I walked out of her office knowing there was no future in this company for me and said “Thank you” in return.  As I took three steps down the hall the interviewer called out to me and said:

” Say…would you mind changing your hair style?”

I spun around and looked her in the eyes and smiled my reply:

“If you can do something with this hair I would be grateful,  I have been trying for years and can’t do a thing with it”.

It was a week later I got a call for a second interview and this is how that went down:

I wore a nice suite that fit, I wore wedge heels, I  applied make up, and I didn’t eat any Mexican food the night before.  I made the interview on time and noticed only one other girl in the waiting room.

I was called into a small dimly lit room with a leggy blonde sitting at a desk that held a smoldering cigarette in a glass ashtray.  She stood up to greet me and we shook hands. She asked me to have a seat. I sat as she discussed the Airline’s back round and what is required of a  Flight Attendant who  works for this airline.  I listened intently and answered when asked.  She then told me there is certain protocol with this airline and there fore I needed to be put through some tasks:

One task was to see how you walked, carried yourself, stature, balance, and posture.  She asked me to rise and walk about five feet and turn around to face her.  I rose out of my chair and in doing so my nylon clad foot slipped out of my backless wedgies and I toppled to the floor.  I got up from the cold tile and I turned to look at her and said:

“Well, that went well”.

The Marlena Dietrich Interviewer didn’t even flinch, she lit another cigarette and  blew a puff of smoke in my direction and muttered:


I walked  the allotted five feet steady as she goes, and spun around to return when she shot a command of :

“STOP. Stand right there.”

And I did. Frozen in step.   Then she ordered another request:

“Raise your skirt up so I can see your thighs”.

Okaaayyyyy……yeah…….uuuuhhh…..yikessheesh….now wait a minute sister……can I have a nurse in the room?

I stood across the room and questioned the thoughts going through my head.  I looked back at her  through another puff of smoke as her head glanced down at a sheet of paper filled with check marks.  I stood there with  my eyes closed as I grasped the bottom of my skirt and fanned the hem high above my waist resembling a card board cut out of a Can-Can girl………minus the kicks.  While poised center stage flashing my Moulin Rouge,I heard the interviewer cough a chuckle and state:

” You can put that skirt down.  This year our Flight Attendants are wearing Hot Pants and we need to see the size of the legs to see if it is a right fit for the uniform”.

Strike two….I’m batting a thousand..I’m sure I’ve nailed this job…..what…..starting with a fall , followed by flashing my panties with Thursday written all over them… if she needed reminding of what day is was…..

She walked me to the door and said: “Thank You”.

I reiterated the same and tried to leave with what dignity I had left, and as I took another step she called out to me:

“I forgot to mention where you will be based, you have a choice  of New York or San Juan”.

I told her San Juan is fine, being that I was from the Pacific Northwest and we use to boat around the San Juan Islands all the time and I would be close to my hometown of Seattle.

 She blew her final puff of smoke and went back into her office.

A week later I received a packet from this EASTERN company announcing my acceptance to the airline and  a welcome aboard the “Wings of Man”.  I was so excited I rallied around the family and told them my base is really close to home.

“It’s San Juan”, I scream with delight.

My sister read the fine print of my contract and stated it was a base in PUERTO RICO……

Idiot Abroad…..

spread the humor.

et cetera
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