My new seat mate raised her hand like scout’s honor. And with that, she plopped down next to me in the first row of First Class.
She had just strode onto the airplane, large and in charge and demanded a drink. When she was told we were getting ready to push back and she’d have to wait, she remonstrated, to no one in particular and to everyone in general, that $1200 ought to get you a drink whenever you wanted it. But she threw up her hands and started sizing me up. Was I going to be a problem? Would I put a buzzkill over the next 2 hours?
I didn’t kill her buzz and she didn’t behave. She didn’t behave but she turned out to be one of the most fascinating people I have ever had the privilege of sharing a flight with. I looked into the galley. Here’s something I’ve learned about flight attendants: they are scanning and evaluating everyone that boards the plane. Is this person crazy? Could they help in an emergency? Might they need assistance during the flight? Were they going to be a pain in the ass? I’ve flown a lot, and you can tell a lot of things by just keeping an eye on the crew. Everything from a subtle nod of the head at a seat three rows up, to them tearing up the aisle at a run. (Flight attendants running is never a good sign.)
I saw our cabin flight attendant right before she turned to hide her face. She was laughing. Hard. She decided this one was going to be a wild ride and she was up for it.
As we spoke, I found out she was going to visit her mother. Her mother had built a fortune and then donated much of it to worthy causes around our city. There are buildings with her name on them. Big fancy buildings. She also gave much of it away as a parting gift to her employees when she sold her business. She was a popular woman. This was her wild child, but successful in her own right and owned a massive amount of vacation properties. She didn’t use her mother’s money.
Over the course of the next couple of hours she analyzed my playlist and decided my music choices made me a good guy. She also made me listen to recordings she had made and published to iTunes and told me I should be drinking more “you gotta keep up buddy, I move fast.”
She had some life behind her and she had made enough mistakes to make her interesting. She told me I wasn’t chasing my dreams, that she could tell I was successful, but wasn’t working in corporate America boring as hell? I laughed and admitted that yes, but that my upbringing, without much money biased me towards security…I never take for granted the roof over my head and the food on my table. I could tell by the look on her face that she had just learned something herself.
After being quiet for a minute while she processed that, she said “you are really self aware. More than me probably.”
I told her that the part of my job I loved was the international travel, and the ability to get to know people all over the world. Her eyes brightened, her mother and now her, were making their fortunes in the travel business. “Now that’s something. That’s something to hold onto.”
We chatted for the rest of the flight, and towards the end she gave me a business card and told me to bring my family out to Montana to ski. “You now know someone that can get you a good deal on a condo. The prices are crazy, but don’t worry, I’ll take care of you.”
Despite her opening performance, she didn’t drink a whole lot but the crew kept her glass full. As much as she pestered them, she kept them smiling and laughing.
I think that’s called charm.
© Glenn R Keller 2022, All Rights Reserved
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