Organizations hire me as a Motivational Humorist to come in and talk to their people about managing their stress and keeping their sense of humor. So, I travel.
I have to travel to them because I can’t get them to come to my house. (I don’t know why; I have a large porch, but they keep telling me that a conference center is more “comfortable” for a conference. Go figure.) So, my life is like a scene out of the movie, “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.” Mostly planes.
Remember the quaint slogan of yore, “Fly the Friendly Skies?” That used to apply to all of us, but now that is reserved for the elite passengers in First Class. For the rest of us back in the “NO class“ section it’s a whooooole different story.
I’ve noticed that the gulf between First Class and The Rest of Us gets wider and wider all the time. They will have 4 or 5 flight attendants running around up there in First Class catering to their every whim, making sure to catch crumbs before they ever land in their laps. But, for us poor slobs back in “coach”, aka the “unwashed masses,” we get that one grouchy flight attendant who is 5 minutes from retirement and has “had it up to here” with passengers in general. At the end of my last airplane trip, the flight attendant went up and down the aisle with a Hefty bag, looking left and right saying, “Trash. Trash. Trash.” Is name calling really necessary?
Even though the captain always comes over the intercom with that stock speech inviting us to let them know if they can do anything to make the flight “more enjoyable,” don’t think for a second that they really mean it. I once told a pilot that I’d really “enjoy” a foot massage and a nice lullaby to help with my in-flight nap. I’m lucky that I didn’t land on the TSA “watch list” until the end of time.
In these post 9/11 times, airline employees are touchier than ever and you must keep your snarky comments to yourself. Planes are now “no smoking” AND “no joking” zones. I’m pretty sure they would ground the plane and toss you off just for excessive sarcasm. So, I keep my thoughts to myself, but there is a non-stop party going on in my head during the entire flight. It goes like this:
What they say: “I need you to fasten your seatbelt.”
What I think: “But, I haven’t had my lesson yet!”
Them: “Your seat can be used as a flotation device.”
Me: “I didn’t know rocks could float…”
You get the idea.
The flight attendants are there for our “comfort and safety.” Most of them are extremely nice people who obviously enjoy their jobs. Others, not so much. Some will gently glide up and down the aisle with the beverage cart, imploring those of us in the aisle seats to keep our arms pulled in so we don’t get grazed. Others barrel up and down the aisle, with absolutely no regard for the welfare of our poor limbs. I once saw a beverage cart with little pieces of elbow stuck all over the sides.
And speaking of arms. Whoever designed planes with the idea that two people could somehow share ONE armrest needs a class in basic physics. I’m pretty sure I learned in kindergarten that two objects can’t occupy the same space at the same time. We’re left trying to “work it out” with a complete stranger. “Okay, you take the arm rest for the first hour and I’ll take it for the second. If the flight is late, we can alternate every 5 minutes after that.” It’s exhausting.
Despite all of its travails, flying is still the best, most efficient way to (mostly) get where you want or need to go. (Like a Motivational Humorist friend of mine says, “We’ll never get the audience to come to our houses, so we have to go the them!”) I’m still amazed that we all climb into this metal tube and it actually descends into the clouds, and then gently deposits us all in one piece a few hours later. If you keep a good attitude and realize that nearly all of the process is out of your control, you can handle the many potential irritations with humor and grace.
And, with all of the downsides of air travel, it warms my heart when the pilots come on at the end of flight to tell us all what a “pleasure” we’ve been and how much they hope we “enjoyed” our flight. Nice sentiment, but I’m still waiting for my foot rub.
c. Kay Frances 2014
Kay Frances is known as “America’s Funniest Stressbuster.” She gives humorous keynote presentations to any group that can be reached by a plane, train, automobile or combination thereof. She is the author of “The Funny Thing about Stress.” For more information, visit her website at www.KayFrances.com
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