The latest Affairs. . .

Mrs. Tudball goes to Sarasota

Mrs. Tudball goes to Sarasota
I enjoy the passengers on my flights. People can be very interesting and entertaining. This isn’t that hard of a job in some ways. Basically, I look at it like someone coming to my home–“Welcome, come in and have a seat. Want a drink?” –kind of thing. We are a regulated industry and there are many rules we have to follow, but if you look at your interaction with the passengers like that, it gets easier.
The crews are good to work with. The pilots are usually nice. They don’t want much.
If you’ll just do your job, make sure they have water or whatever they need in the cock pit, they’re easy to get along with. They can’t leave the cock pit during a flight to stretch their legs or mingle, only for bodily needs, so as a flight attendant, we take care of them, too. And they’ll take care of us. If a passenger gets too rowdy or belligerent, it’s nice to know they’ve got our back.
There are those –pilots and flight attendants– that live up to the old lothario stereotype, but they’re really few and far between. Maybe it’s my age. I’m older than most of the guys I fly with. As a commuter airline, this is often their first commercial pilot position and they’re all hoping to bail as soon as possible to a mainline carrier. I’d guess most of the guys are 25-45 year old and if they’re near 30, married with a child. Most, by far, are family guys.
The flight attendants are more of a mixed bag. It can be interesting. This job doesn’t require you bring anything to the table. Pilots have had to get their own flight training prior to hire. There’s nothing a flight attendant has to bring except a certain level of intelligence and politeness. Their job requires more than that, but it’s learned after hiring. And the pay is so poor, schedules so difficult, you wonder sometimes, if this is who they hired, how did the rest appear?
The reason I stay is for the health insurance and flight benefits. My guy flew out to Spokane last week to meet a dear friend. They stayed in a hotel over the weekend and watched the Super Bowl together. The flight cost $40.
The other day, I had a trip to Sarasota. There are always old people and walking sticks on these flights. We’ll leave Charlotte with 8-10 passengers getting on in wheelchairs, but when we land, only 2-3 still want a chair. They don’t want their friends to see them in a wheelchair. They miraculously heal up in flight.
At the end of boarding, two sky caps brought out a couple, husband and wife, in wheelchairs. The terminal personnel that help in gate transfers are no longer called sky caps, but I don’t know what they’re called now. For those of us who remember real flying, they were sky caps.
Most times we have jetways, but at this particular gate, we did not. For people who can’t do stairs, they have a long ramp they’ll wheel up to the airplane door. The two sky caps parked their wheel chairs at the bottom of the ramp, one carried her purse and walked behind her guiding her up the ramp. The other followed with the husband and his tote bags.

Both passengers were a bit feeble, her more so. He had a portable oxygen concentrator or POC. This is a small, battery-powered machine that takes nitrogen out of the air and provides supplemental oxygen to someone with lung disease.  Passengers can’t bring on a personal oxygen bottle, so this does the trick. They have to have it pre-approved and carry a doctor’s statement attesting to its use.

As the lady came on, I stood in front of her, put her purse on my shoulder, took hold of both hands, walking backwards and helped her to her seat. She shuffled like Mr. Tudball from the Carol Burnett Show. For some reason, they reminded me of Lucille Ball and Burgess Meredith.
Here’s a portion of our conversations . . .

Lucille, “Oh, this is just terrible. I’m just not going to make it. I’ve never had anything this bad in my life. This is terrible. Just terrible. I just can’t go on.”

Me, “Sure your can. I’ll help you get settled. You’re right here in this second row.”

“I’m so cold. I’m just so cold. I need a drink. And I mean a real one. I want liquor.”

“Here’s a blanket. Would you like two? I’ll get you a drink just as soon as we’re in the air.”

“I can’t have it now? I have to wait?”

“Yes, ma’am. You have to wait. We’re leaving in just a minute and the FAA has a rule that we have to take up anything we serve you on the ground. I don’t have time to pour it and you don’t have time to drink it.”

“Now, why would they do that? What if I’m not finished?”

“Don’t know, but that’s the way it is.”

Burgess, “I need to sit in her seat. I have my oxygen.”

Her husband has boarded and is behind me. And he’s right. The person with the POC has to sit by a window so they don’t impede another passenger’s exit in the event of an emergency evacuation, but she’d sat down while he was still getting on & I didn’t know he had it yet.

“I’ll help you swap seats.” After much shuffling–think of Mr. Tudball and Mrs. Whiggins going in circles– they’ve swapped seats. Burgess is sitting at the window and Lucille’s on the aisle.

Pulling on my sleeve, she asks, “Where’s my drink? I want real liquor.”

“I can’t give it to you until we’re in the air. We’re leaving in just a second and you won’t have time to drink it.”

“Okay, but you won’t make me wait too long. I don’t know how much time I have, you know.”

“Right now, you need to fasten your seal belt.”

“Where is it?”

“Right here, I’ll help. Why don’t you tell me what you want and I’ll bring it to you as soon as I can.”

“I want a Cabernet.”

(We left the gate, took off, and I later brought her the Cabernet.)

“Are you going to give me any peanuts?”

“Not yet, I gave you your drink before anyone else was served, I need to give everyone else something to drink. When I finish that, I’ll bring around a snack basket and you can choose something then.”


“What would you like to drink?” I ask her husband.

“I want two hookers and a stick.”

“I’m sorry, you want what?”

“I want two hookers and a stick.” (I think, I never did get a clear idea of what he was saying, maybe they were on a stick.)

“I don’t have that brand. How about a second choice?”

“I’ll have a ginger ale.”

Lucille, “I’m hot. I need to take my jacket off.” (I helped her take off her red jacket.)
They were quite pleasant, just ditsy. Evidently, had traveled a lot in their life, had 3 homes, 2 up north and 1 in Sarasota. I can take ditsy, it’s hateful that can be hard to deal with.


“Now, what were you saying earlier to me? Two hookers and something?” 

“It’s a scotch on ice.”

“Oh, okay. I have Dewars. Would you like some?”

“Not now, can’t touch the stuff.”

Lucille, “I never drink liquor.” (She’s wearing a white jacket now and her red jacket is on her lap.)

“Well, you asked me to bring you liquor when you first sat down. You said, ‘I want liquor and I want real liquor.'”

“I did?”

Burgess, “Yes, dear, you did, that’s exactly what you said.”

“Well, I guess I could have a glass of Vodka now.”

“Not now. We’re landing. Maybe next time.”

“I need to go to the bathroom.” She starts struggling with her seat belt and jacket. “I can’t go in this jacket.”

“Right now? We’re on approach into Sarasota. If you go now, you’re going to have to be speedy, we can’t land with you in the toilet.” I helped her take off the white jacket.

She got back in her seat just as the wheels dropped.

Sarasota is always like this. In the terminal, the escalators go at half speed compared to any other escalator I’ve ridden. I hope those homes of theirs are assisted living.
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PS . . .
Did you know?
dog on escalator
Statistically, you have about the same chance of getting hurt on an escalator as from air travel?




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