Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
I don't like to fly.
That's not entirely accurate; what I'm really saying is I don't like:
- having absolutely no control
- rocketing through the atmosphere in an over-sized tin can
- the thought of plummeting to earth in a 60-second death spiral
Also, I'm not a fan of fuzzy-armed, talky men sitting next to me in
the summer, when I'm likely sleeveless and he's invariably going to be
an armrest hogger.
The actual flying part I'm slowly realizing I don't hate.
Which is impressive evidence of personal growth…or dementia (those
who've known me a while will testify). I'm voting for the former.
Considering with plane travel, you're cramming dozens of strangers
into a cramped space and demanding they be quiet and still for hours,
"situations" are bound to arise. Like my last return flight from
Germany when we happened to be flying in a Brand New Plane, which I
learned was new only after alerting the flight attendants the bathroom
door was broken AFTER I GOT STUCK IN IT BECAUSE I BROKE THE KNOB/LOCK
AND THE DOOR WOULDN'T OPEN, not that I'm scarred from BEING STUCK IN AN
AIRPLANE TOILET and not that I didn't wonder for seven more hours what
ELSE would fall off the plane with a simple push by a passenger.
Of course, that didn't involve anyone else, except that it did affect
EVERYONE ON THE PLANE; because the next thing I knew there was a sign
on the door that the bathroom was out of order.
Which reminds me of the
time we toured a German brewery and monastery and I accidentally locked
the bus bathroom ten minutes into our hour-long return trip home — AFTER WE HAD TOURED A
MONASTERY AND *BREWERY*, which in Germany means the people were treated
to a LOT of liquid refreshments and we might have had to make a few
stops for the menfolk to use the facilities (because, as you now know, I had accidentally
locked the bathroom and the driver couldn't/wouldn't open it), and by
"facilities" I mean the side of the road, which, if you don't know
German culture, is perfectly acceptable.
Odd pattern I'm suddenly seeing with me and broken toilets….
Anyways, on this particular trip there were no bathroom incidents
(okay, a minor one I won't mention involving my new iPhone) but I did practice my blogging mantra:
Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained.
In other words, I asked if I could be moved to a seat closer to the
front of the plane and voilà–my wish was Delta's command. My young traveling companion, Kaitlyn,
followed suit, sparing me the Fuzzy-armed Man Syndrome I had
experienced on my departing flight. Remarkably, we scored seats 1A and
1B, a lottery win in my book and a lesson to be genuinely nice to the
agents upon check-in.
I suppose that's one miracle at 30,000 feet but it's not the one I can't wait to tell you about.
The first incident involved our flight attendant who basically
verbally spanked Kaitlyn for wanting to get something out of her bag
before take-off. Her accent and abrupt manner weren't
typical–Brooklyn street smack meets who knows what, but we decided to
sit down and shut up for the duration.
(Later we would learn she was from Germany, ironic but fitting given her Gestapo techniques, and also clearing our confusion regarding her accent.)
Shortly after take-off, our flight attendant (whose nametag was
flipped backwards so I couldn't spy her name) suddenly sprang out of her
jumpseat, horrified, looking directly above
our seats and pointing.
That's always a comfort for the girl who doesn't like to fly.
"What is that? (She's backing to the far side of the plane.) What IS THAT?! Get it!" and then "Help…somebody
help…H-E-E-E-E-L-L-L-P!" but it was the most peculiar combination of whisper and
scream I've ever heard.
Her eyes lasered the man behind us,
her sense of urgency moving him to action. Meanwhile, I was unbuckling my seat belt
and taking off my shoe; she had reached for a paper towel and I was
imagining a Roach of Unusual Size, what with her whisper scream and
terror-filled expression and all, and I figured with that accent, she
wasn't used to the Southern Palmetto Bug, the creatures of which
nightmares are made, but every Steel Magnolia could stomp in her
The man just laughed, took her paper towel and explained, "It's a
grasshopper," and she insisted she had never seen one "that color" or
She was super nice and talky to me and Kaitlyn after that,
and I wished I had gotten her name. She surprised me, managing to redeem her extremely calloused first impression. Mid-fifties maybe, her face tan and leather, a demeanor showing remnants of hard living. We learned she:
- had been a flight attendant for five years after working as a ticketing agent for seven.
- moved from Germany to New York, and following her divorce moved to Texas. I asked Why Texas? and she shrugged and said Why not? (I was sad she hadn't moved for family or friends.) She now calls Detroit home.
- Yesterday was her birthday and she
was hoping she wouldn't have to work.
Interesting how a brief, random encounter can stick with you for a while. It was her birthday but this lady gave me and Kaitlyn a gift we'll remember a long, long time–an in-flight comedy complete with a monster and an action hero.
: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :
This was originally part of the real "Miracle at 30,000 Feet" post, but I decided it made the piece too long and distracted from the beauty of that moment. Hold tight–it'll be up tomorrow.