Recently, an irate reader let me know he was sick of me moaning about my job as a flight attendant. His exact words were, “If you don’t like it, the last I heard, the drink-tosser’s job was voluntary.”
I think he got the wrong opinion of my attitude toward the job, but he got me thinking about signs to look out for in the future. So, I drew up an informal poll and asked more than a hundred flight attendants when they would know it was time to take off their wings. Here are some of the best and most interesting answers.
You know it’s time to quit being a flight attendant when:
* The copilot and the captain are both younger than you.
* You can remember when they cooked eggs to order in first class.
* Passengers ask you questions at the airport and you aren’t even in uniform.
* You see a passenger for the first time and know what he wants to drink even before he asks. (I am correct about 90 percent of the time. Some people just look like a ginger ale.)
* You wake up in a strange city, don’t remember where you are — and don’t really care.
* Your “secret knock” at home is the same as the code for the cockpit door.
* You have a huge collection of miniature alcohol bottles at home. (At last count, I had 512 miniatures from more than 50 countries.)
* You take alcohol off the airplane, and you aren’t a drinker.
* You use the seat backs as support to walk down the aisles. Bless her heart, I flew with an 82-year-old flight attendant who needed the bar cart to prop her up in the aisle.
* A younger crew member asks you what it was like in the “good old days.”
* Several hotel staffs know you by name.
* You’re the last one to sit down to your family dinner, and the first one to clear the plates.
* You know the safety demonstration announcements by heart, and you prove it by reciting them in the shower.
* You have airplane disaster dreams, and you like them.
* You carry a non-uniform jacket with you just in case the day is full of cancellations and you will need to hide from angry passengers in the terminal.
* A younger crew member asks you if you still go out for drinks with the crew “at your age.”
* You start to smell like a Boeing aircraft. Eau de Boeing they call it.
* You are serving dinner at home — it’s either chicken or beef, and not very good — and you think about charging the family for it.
* When an angry passenger explains why he will never fly on your airline again, you agree with him and begin to wonder why anyone flies on your airline.
* You lie to perfect strangers about which airline you work for.
* You are on a tropical-island layover with beautiful weather and a fun crew, and you think the layover should be shorter so you can get home.
* On the way to work, you fantasize about phoning in a bomb threat just so your flight will be canceled.
* You see oversize luggage and you instinctively start to growl.
* Top management’s bonuses increase, your paycheck and pension decrease, and you get curious about the going rate for hit men.
* You carry a flask everywhere you go.
* You start saying “Buh-bye” in your sleep.
Thanks to all my colleagues who answered the poll. Your responses were funny and insightful. As for me, I think it’s time to quit being a flight attendant when you can no longer find the humor in the job. Luckily, that hasn’t happened to me yet. I truly love this career, and I will stick it out — just to see what happens tomorrow.
Passengers, do you have anything to add? What are some of the signals that your flight attendant needs to quit? E-mail your comments to me. I would love to hear from you.