My career in the air doesn’t always involve a lot of writing. But there are occasions when you need to write up a report about some incident or another and the powers-that be need the details. That is when I actually get quite enthusiastic about my job. Ahhh! Here is an opportunity to make a difference!

And then I get all excited about what I’m going to say and how I’m going to phrase things primarily because I like being a smart-ass when I write reports for work. I have also read other people’s reports and I found them boring. Dry. Listless.

They simply lacked a certain style sometimes needed to get the point across about whatever bone-headed event occurred at 35,0000 feet. I’ve always viewed it as an opportunity. But then, I was that obnoxious 12 year-old that didn’t mind writing themes.

I’ve had to write about a minor security breach, a baby being born onboard, as well as someone who, well, for lack of a better way of phrasing it, got a horrible case food poisoning and took it out on the carpeting down the aisle. About 10 feet of it. I am quite sure her white pants were never the same after that little incident. I know I’ll never be the same after having had to cover that up until the haz-mat people could get to us when we landed.

My reports are usually amusing and light-hearted and I make sure that when I write something up asking for some sort of compensation for the crew, that they feel the burn we felt and lived through the day we had, just to get them on our side. I want the reader to be completely empathetic to us or at least I want them to be so amused at the report that they want to help, or change something, or whatever.

I’ve been told in the past that my reports have been passed around the office like hors d’oeuvres at a wedding. I have also managed to maintain my spot on the DNFW list for some time now. I try to be pro-active and have some up with many solutions that have been implemented. So I’m not just constantly bitching here. I really am trying to make a difference. And I think the heads of state know that. And please bear in mind that I can only go so far in a report at work. I kind of have to reign it in a bit. I’d go further, but you know, that paycheck comes in pretty handy. I should probably write two versions of my reports: one that states what I really want to say, and the one I actually send  in.

I’m also quite big on complimenting people when they do a good job. Here is one of those commendations. I have omitted the last names to protect the innocent:

Good Morning,

 Thank you for indulging me by reading this commendation letter. There is a speech in William Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar given by the character Marc Antony. It begins with these lines:

 Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears; 

I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him; 

The evil that men do lives after them, 

The good is oft interred with their bones, 

So let it be with Caesar 

 I am writing very soon after having written a report regarding the crew being locked onto a jet bridge and aircraft in CanCun, which, as you can imagine did absolutely nothing for my mood or my hunger for that matter. 

 However, I was duly impressed with your swift and spot-on responses to the situation and I thank you.

I also want to recognize and thank my Manager, Alejandro  for coming across with some wonderful positive reinforcement for my having written it in the first place and encouraging me to continue writing reports. It felt good. And in all honesty, this is something most Flight Attendants cannot say when they have been contacted by their Manager.

 Just days after that little fiasco, I created another one for myself. As I once pointed out in one of my in-person reports, “I am not 25 anymore, and neither is anyone in this room…” 

Well, I’m not 25 and neither is my memory. I seem to be rambling, but I do have a point. Hang in there:

 About a week ago, I pulled one of the biggest idiot moves I’ve ever pulled in my career: I left my purse and a bag of feathers in a catering cart when I was leaving on a flight to Aruba. (Please refrain from the lecture. I know it was a bonehead move. I’ll address the reason further down.) 

 Long story short, (I know, too late.) Greg  and James, the Managers on Duty at the time pulled off a miracle: they not only got my purse and feathers back, they faxed a copy of my passport to Aruba Authorities so I wouldn’t spend the night in the hoosegow, on detention, doing “double-secret probation” or whatever would have happened to me had the authorities in Aruba not gotten a copy of that document. 

 Greg and James kept me calm, handled the situation with aplomb, retrieved my purse and feathers keeping them safe, and got it back to me the next day. I was thrilled. And they are heroes. 

 The reason I quoted Shakespeare was to make the point that I do not want “the good” that they did to be buried with them. I want you to know what they did for me and that I am eternally grateful. Please do something cool for them, like take them to lunch or buy them a beer or something. They did a wonderful thing and should be recognized for it. 

 As I have said many times before, too many good deeds go unnoticed in this department. For instance, why my crew never had their names on plaques on airplanes after helping to deliver that baby on that Haiti flight is beyond me. While I certainly can appreciate the efforts of a mechanic in Tulsa, or a fleet service clerk at JFK, I doubt their efforts made it onto Entertainment Tonight, CBS, NBC, and ABC generating the fabulous publicity we got out of the deal. So why this never happened still stymies me.

 As you know, I feel far too much effort is spent chasing down the clowns and buffoons of the department: Those people that do dumb stuff, get into dramas with passengers or appear to fail the “Standard” of what Employees should be while on duty. Then of course we have the ones that are just flat-out nuts, but that’s merely my opinion… 

 I think more time should be spent recognizing the good that results from our efforts. It means a lot to people. They may grumble and complain and say, “It means nothing unless it’s in my paycheck.” But that’s not entirely true. What is true is that far too much time has gone with no reward for the good things. And when the good things or recognition do happen for them, it’s too little, too late. But this doesn’t mean you cannot turn the tide. A little every day would make a huge difference.

 Of course, my theory is that 67% of the complaints received in this department are either a complete fabrication or a trumped-up and inflated story based on a shred of truth in order to gain miles, refunds or free tickets. I once had to give a deposition on our behalf and the attorney told me of a case she was preparing for where the company was getting sued by a customer because he did not get his choice of a meal during a breakfast service. I think the attorney was preparing her “Omelet Defense” when I walked into her office, and that’s why the subject came up. But in light of that recent “Catering Incident,” I’m thinking that we are  becoming more aware that my “67% theory” is probably fairly accurate. Good luck with that situation by the way…

 In summation of this rather lengthy, yet light-hearted mess of a commendation letter, I simply wanted you to know that I am practicing what I preach: I am not allowing Greg and James’ efforts to secure my belongings and making sure I wasn’t detained in Aruba go unnoticed. In short, (probably the shortest thing is this report…) they were wonderful.

 And now, I will present to you a challenge: Get three members of your staff and go to the back of a 757 with each person having these items- a standard roll-aboard suitcase, a standard carryon bag and a personal bag or purse. Also, have a uniform jacket with you. This is what we normally carry onto an airplane. Oh, and don’t forget your lunch. You are pretending to be going to CanCun where you will be locked in with no access to food, so you need to carry some food along as well. You will notice that this is a lot of stuff to find places for.

Your challenge is to stow all of that stuff so that you have access to your manuals, lunch, apron, pocket masks, a pen for a passenger to forget to return to you and the latest copy of People Magazine at a moment’s notice. Also, try and find a spot to put your uniform jacket so that you can still get to it but it doesn’t appear to have been slept in at the end of the flight. Do this in 2 minutes while catering is in the back of the plane changing out the carts and the Gate Agents are screaming for a plucker. And don’t forget to check your emergency equipment. You may begin… 

 I think you will find it virtually impossible to find enough space to stow all of this stuff without using all of the overhead bin space for the last four rows of customers or without employing an oven or a cart. And good luck with locating a coat hook. There aren’t any on the older 757s. 

 And that is why my purse took a little ride on a catering truck.

 I thank you again for taking the time to read this chronicle of my current calamity. 

You will notice that I will not “thank you for all that you do.” The phrase is tired, overused and intolerable. 

I will however tell you that “I’m glad you here.” Really. I mean it.

 With Respect,

 Patricia

 

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