Remember when I was little? When the ultimate dream of a little girl was to grow up to be a stewardess?
I never flew anywhere when I was growing up. We took a vacation once, but we drove, since it was to southern Ohio, a three-hour drive from home. I didn’t take my first airplane ride until I was a senior in college and I took a trip to Disney with my friends Bob and Ed and two other girls. They promised me I would be fine, just have a Bloody Mary, you’ll barely know you’re in the air. Bob, who was responsible for seeing to it that I didn’t get nervous, ended up having a few too many and slept through the entire flight, snoring through my shrieks and seat clutches with every movement of the plane.
So through my entire childhood, I only saw pictures of stewardesses and I wanted to be one bad. They got to travel, they were blonde and wore eye liner, and they got to wear sexy versions of a military uniform. What’s not to like?
It didn’t occur to me until I actually was on a plane and saw one in person that I realized they’re just waitresses in uniforms slightly less comfortable than the orange and teal polyester dress I wore at Howard Johnson’s. And even real waitresses don’t have to push a demeaning little cart up and down an aisle.
It used to be that stewardesses had to be female, young and pretty. Now they can be old, ugly, refuse to wear the eye liner, and they don’t even have to have blond hair! They can even be men. But they still can’t be fat. A fat stewardess could never fit through the aisle. Plus airplanes are not exactly the dream job of people who enjoy eating. I could barely get a little bag of nine honey roasted peanuts out of our stewardess on our flight back from Florida.
Our last stewardess, from Atlanta to Lexington, was clearly at the end of a long shift. She was starting to get a little punchy. “There will be no screaming,” she said, when giving instructions on how to use the oxygen masks. When that didn’t get the reaction she hoped for, she said, “After you’ve placed the mask on your face, don’t worry about the person next to you.” Was I dreaming this? Had I fainted from my fear of flying and was having a bad airplane hallucination?
I no longer want to be a stewardess (or shall I say “flight attendant”) but I’m glad they get to have brown hair and other rights. When the plane dips a little bit or the wheels start grinding down, I look for her and if she’s not clutching her heart, I figure we’re probably going to be OK.