Imperfect Flight Attendant

By Beacon Staff

The voice of the flight attendant came over the loudspeakers precisely as the textbook said it should.

I was instinctively blocking out the safety message of, “If we experience a water landing the seat cushions can act as a flotation device.” It was not easy to bend my large frame into the design of a coach airline seat on the flight from Ames, Iowa to Pueblo, Colo. and I couldn’t imagine how we’d have a water landing on that route.

I have been flying on commercial airlines since my first trip in 1945 in a 24-hour flight from Miami to San Francisco. It would be hard to calculate how many times I had heard the same voice trying to convince me that it really was safe way up there in the clouds.

For years I have wished I could rewrite that safety speech so that it was at least entertaining. No matter how grumpy I was on a late flight on the scheduled airline stuck at 38,000 feet, my rewrite would sound less intimidating and scary.

Imagine my surprise when we were getting ready to taxi to the takeoff spot when “Grace Goodenough” turned on the microphone. She made it sound like open mic at the local Comedy Club:

“Will the people sitting on the aisle please pull their elbows and shoulders in so the captain can see to back up the airplane.

“For all take offs and landings will you make sure your tray tables are put away and your seatbacks are in the upright and most uncomfortable position.

“In the event of a water landing (crash) anywhere while en route be sure to study the 23-page safety instruction booklet that is somewhere in the seat pocket in front of you. Study it carefully so you can put on your seat cushion without disturbing your neighbor.

“In the unlikely event of a sudden loss in cabin pressure due to some kid opening an outside door, oxygen masks will fall out from the roof, which is directly over your head.

“If you are riding in first class, for lunch you will be served our famous zucchini lasagna, macaroni and cheese casserole with an extra slice of our new 19-grain bread. We will also be serving all of the free vintage wine you can drink and still get off of the plane without wheelchair help. We will be serving the wine from our new biodegradable cartons.

“If you are stuck in the cheap back seats we will be serving a bologna sandwich with a glass of supposed mountain spring water from a mountain somewhere in Arizona.

“Wine, gin, whiskey, and bourbon are all free for you lucky folks up front. For you cheapskates in the back, once again we have free water; alcoholic beverages are five dollars a pop.

“Since this plane is now going to be late because of the fire in our No. 3 engine many of you will be missing your connections. I don’t know the arrival gate of our flight or where the bulletin board is located so good luck on making a reservation to wherever you were planning on going.

“You didn’t know about that little fire in the engine did you? I think the captain faked you out with that little story about clear air turbulence when he was just playing with the controls.

“Please stay seated with your seat belts on until the plane has come to a complete stop at the gate and the seat belt sign has been turned off. We don’t want you to fall down and sue us. Especially after all of that free booze we gave you while in flight.

“Now that we are finally safely on the ground I want to welcome you to, where are we captain? Oh yes. You think we are in Colorado somewhere. That’s fine with me we are safe and as you open the overhead luggage compartments be careful because shift happens.”

For more of Warren’s wanderings go to www.warrenmiller.net or visit him on his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/warrenmiller. For information on his Foundation, please visit the Warren Miller Freedom Foundation, at www.warrenmiller.org.

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