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In her new column, “Carrie’s Galley Gossip,” TPG Insider Carrie A. Trey shares some of her favorite stories about life at 35,000 feet.
Often, as we sit on the jumpseat winging our way across the Atlantic at 500mph, one of our favorite activities as cabin crew is to tell stories. Goodness knows that given the sheer number of people we interact with — both crew and passengers — a good story or two is bound to crop up somewhere. All too often passengers come back and wonder what we’re having such a giggle at. Well, now you’ll know.
1. Rock-A-Bye Baby…
On a night flight from the Middle East to the East Coast, I was walking up the cabin and noticed one of the center overhead bins open. I reached up to close it and was immediately stopped by a woman for whom English was at least a second language. “Shhhhh!” she barked at me, “qviet!”
“Yes, I understand, madam, however I’m quite sure you’ll sleep better if the bins are closed.”
“No, leave it!,” she again replied. “Comftaaaa-bl — leave it!”
I again tried to explain that she would be even cozier without bags raining down on her head but I just got shushed again. “Baby is sleeping! Go avay!,” she then barked.
“What baby?” I asked myself, as she didn’t have a baby with her at all nor could I see anyone else nearby with one. And BAM! It hit me. I peeked up in the overhead and sure enough, there was an eight-month old little cherub, fast asleep. I immediately scooped it up, handed it back to the irresponsible mother (a judgment that I still sometimes regret) and walked back to the galley, still stunned.
A bin baby? Really? She had been upset that she didn’t get a seat with a bassinet (in fairness, they were all occupied by other families with their own little cherubs) but to put your baby in an overhead bin?! It truly boggles my mind.
2. Silly Cow
While many of my colleagues are charming, professional and intelligent, some of you may have noticed that there’s the occasional bad apple — and on a flight back to the US from Athens, I had the displeasure of working with one of them. Brittney (as I’ll call her) is tall and lanky, with a meticulously maintained blonde beehive and a Texas drawl that would put George W to shame. She often has trouble understanding some of our customers with thicker accents, but rather than make an effort to further communication, she just smiles, nods and walks away.
On this particular flight, there was an older Greek gentleman who wanted something and had asked Brittney a few times, only to be greeted with her signature smile and nod routine (and maybe a flash of her cleavage, if I know Brittney). He finally came to the back galley and started to raise his voice at her in an effort to get her attention.
“Why you no listen me?! Three times I tell you I want from!! I just want blue from!!” (So he needed a blue customs form — an easy enough problem to solve without escalating to screaming, so you would think.)
Brittney’s well-tweezed eyebrows shot up in surprise, as she exclaimed, “Sir, sir! Please calm down. I want to help you, but I am an American, so darlin,’ you’ll have to talk American with me, ok?”
Not missing a beat, the brilliant gentleman responded, “You silly cow, I’ve been speaking English the whole time!!”
Brittney ran off to the forward galley in tears, the man got his customs form, and I haven’t seen her on an Athens trip since. Thank you, little old man, wherever you are. From the bottom of my heart, efharisto poli!
3. Bad Potato
Not long after I started flying, I was flying a Paris trip with the legendary Amy Jo Baker. Amy Jo was from Charlotte, and her beautiful southern accent and youthful looks made you want to call her Mrs. Blanche Devereaux. She was a doll to work with and had been with the company for well over 40 years. She also had a bit of a reputation for being able to get away with murder on the plane, thanks to her charming drawl, contagious smile and good looks.
On this particular flight, we had a couple sitting in the two middle seats in business class, and during the lunch service we came down the aisles to offer them wines. The husband had chosen the beef for lunch — a seared beef filet served with roasted vegetables and a baked potato with fixings of your choice. First he was upset because the beef wasn’t cooked to within two degrees of his preferred temperature, then he got upset because the zucchini was too soft and then as we made our pass with the wine, he decided to have a go at Amy Jo over his potato. Bad move.
Waving his fork at her, he announced, “Ma’am, this potato is just awful! I’ve had it. I want you to do something about it. Now!”
I saw a little twinkle in Amy Jo’s eyes and I knew this wasn’t going to end well for poor Mister 3G. “I tell you what, darlin’, I’m going to fix that for you right now,” she said as she put down the wine bottle in her hand. She then reached down onto his plate, picking up the potato with her bare hand and with her other hand she began spank the potato. “Bad potato! Bad potato!” she said, as sour cream, chives and potato bits flew everywhere. “There you go, sir,” she said, as she laid the beaten and bruised potato back on his plate. “It should be much better now, but if you have any more problems, my name is Amy Jo. Please call me.”
It took every ounce of self control for me not to start laughing, but in the end it was his wife who lost her composure first. She even came to the galley later and thanked Amy Jo. “Morty can be such a grouch sometimes. I’m going to start doing that at home when he complains about something and see how it works. Thank you!”
Indeed, Amy Jo — thank you.
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