Flying in and out of airports and sitting on planes offer great opportunities for people watching and eaves dropping. You see and hear wonderful stuff. Here a few of my collected gems of people’s words and statements.
THE PLANE TRUTH
Ever flown over the Sahara Desert? It’s a big place, a real big place, full of sand. I used to fly across it regularly, from Ghana, West Africa to the Netherlands and back. At times I’d take Ghana Airways, which was always a risky choice. Flights were sometimes cancelled without notice. So, naturally, it came to pass that it was my turn. I schlepped my luggage and my sorry self back to the house and flew out the next day. But never mind, we all have such stories. Let me just tell you about what happened once we were well on our way the next day:
A few hours into the flight, after night has fallen and we’re flying high above the Sahara, I get out of my seat to stretch my legs and get another drink in the galley. The flight attendant is a young Ghanaian man, happy to help me and ready to chat. Ghanaians in general are a friendly sort. So we chat, and I’m saying it must be rather a problem for passengers with connections to find out the flight has been cancelled when they get to the airport and that canceling flights without notice is not good for the airline’s reputation.
The friendly Ghanaian flight attendant hands me my water. “Madame,” he says sorrowfully, “yesterday, it was a problem, because the plane from Ethiopia didn’t come to Accra because it had technical problems. So we had no plane yesterday to fly to Amsterdam. We need more money so we can buy more planes.”
Ghana Airways is (at the time of this writing) a modest outfit with a small fleet of aircraft. They fly to Addis Ababa, Amsterdam, London, and a few other locations, making one flight a week to each of these places. If all goes well.
I suggest that perhaps better management might help improve the scheduling problems. Management skills generally do not rank high among Ghanaian talents. Training flight attendants leaves something to be desired as well (read on).
The friendly Ghanaian flight attendant shakes his head and looks doubtful about my management suggestion. “Madame, we need more money. All our planes are so old, they break down all the time.”
Just what you want to hear, high in the sky above a cold, dark, empty Sahara Desert.
Here a story with a different sort of flight attendant:
VIVE AIR FRANCE!
I’m on an Air France flight from Yerevan, Armenia, to Paris, France. We’re getting ready to take off and are instructed to turn off our electronic gadgetry and phones, you know, the regular routine.
Across the aisle from me sits a large Armenian man all in black, looking important. He keeps talking on his cell phone and ignores the order. After all, he is important. An elegant French flight attendant sashays past and tells him in clear English that he must turn off his phone. He ignores her with stunning arrogance and keeps talking after she walks on. I know his type. He is a self-important big shot as there are a number of them strutting around in Armenia and they do not like to take orders from mere flight attendants and other lowly people in the service industry.
The pretty flight attendant comes back and tells him again, in a raised voice, “Sir! Turn off your phone!” Pretending to be deaf and blind, he ignores her completely, because, after all, he is important.
Miss Air France reaches over and simply plucks the phone right out of his hand and hip-swings away with it.
La coolitude! Vive la France!
WANTED: A HUG AND A PLANE
I’m at the airport in Denver, Colorado, USA. It’s chaos. Flights cancelled and delayed. People milling around everywhere, endless lines at ticket counters and feeding stations. People are hungry, angry, tired and fed up. My flight to Washington is now four hours delayed and I have long given up any pretense of being ladylike. I’ve sagged down on the floor, my back against the wall and try to be Zen about it all. It just is. It just is. I watch the people going by, listen to screaming children and howling babies and thank the gods my kids are grown.
A granny in big white sports shoes comes slogging past me, her purse slung diagonally across her chest, a cane in one hand, a dripping ice cream cone in the other. Can you see her? She’s alone and looks exhausted, her eyes staring wildly into the far yonder.
“I can’t do this no more,” she says, speaking to no one. “I can’t do this no more.”
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Okay, your turn. What memorable bits and pieces did you overhear in planes or airports? Or what little dramas did you witness?