This post is dedicated to my fellow flight attendant sisters (and brothers). A fun, fluff piece to make amends for last week’s rather lengthy (ok, too long) 3-installment post.
This past Sunday I was on a flight, middle seat, headed to Dallas. (aka Mecca for those of us who are/were LUS) Window seat, beside me, was one of my closest friends, K. Sharing her ear buds, we were watching training drill videos on her tablet: How to evacuate an airplane . . .
Yep. You guessed it. Recurrent training. CQT, I think, to those on the LAA side. Requalification training to those who are non-airline readers. A once a year—bane to our existence—requirement. (Ah, come on now! Be honest! I’m not the only one who would rather have a root canal, pap smear and a mammogram on the same day!)
As K and I watched, listening to the commands we’d soon be required to yell in a made-up scenario, in a mock-up aircraft simulator (ok, they call it a “trainer”), in a make-believe reality (“Ok, pretend there’s a door here. . .”), we started to laugh.
“Sounds like falling in love,” K said. “Jump and slide. Just jump–and awaaaaay you go!”
“Come this way,” I answered. “Leave everything–especially your common sense and self-respect.”
FYI, we are both coming off failed relationships. This fact may have therefore had a slight influence upon the correlations we were drawing. (Yeah, ok, probably more than “slight.”) Still, the comparison isn’t wildly off the mark. Falling in love is a leap of faith. Like boarding an airplane, most people entering a relationship expect the thing to take off and fly. No one boards a flight expecting it to crash–any more they begin a love affair expecting it to fail.
So back to K and me . . . The videos continued, progressing from boarding door evacuations to over wing window escapes. Appropriately, the requisite flight attendant commands changed with the change of exits: “Come this way. Leave Everything. Step out.”
“Yeah, onto a freakin’ ledge . . . step out . . .” As I augmented the mandatory verbiage with personal editorial, K laughed.
“Don’t forget to follow the arrows,” she rejoined, joining in, “so you go right off the edge!”
Eventually (thankfully) we ran out of aircraft. To explain to the lay person: All airplanes are not alike. For example, I’m qualified on the Airbus 319/320/321/330, the Boeing 737/ 757/767 and the Embraer 190. Each has its own particular evacuation procedure. Whether it’s a door or window, the exits all have differing types of handles, arming/disarming systems, opening methods (manual, pneumonic-assist, electric), flight attendant responsibilities, etc.
So back to the videos . . . We left land evacs and moved on to planned water ditchings. As a steady parade of flight attendants in orange life vests appeared on the screen, a new set of verbal commands sounded in my earbud. “Come this way. Leave everything. Inflate vest. Step into raft!”
I couldn’t help it. The correlation K and I had been joking around with earlier became stronger (at least in my head).
“Inflate heart,” I improvised. “Step into relationship.”
“Don’t forget,” K reminded. “Leave everything.”
Dutiful and responsible little flight attendants that we are, we watched every drill video. As K was winding up the cord on her earbuds, I looked at her.
“I know we were kidding around . . . but I think there’s a lesson here. On the airplane we tell them they have to leave everything for a reason. You can’t have the passengers trying to bring their crap with. Whether you’re stepping into a life raft—or stepping into a new relationship—the same applies. You can’t drag your baggage with.”
She nodded in understanding agreement. “Even though we all have it, you can’t take it with you.”
“Not if you want it to float . . .”
“It isn’t easy.” She looked at me. I knew exactly what she wasn’t saying.
“Nope. But they say nothing worthwhile ever is.”
She smiled. “Someday I want to meet ‘they.'”
“Don’t we all.”
BTW, you’ll be happy to know K and I are now fully re-qualified and trained to fly for another year.