LUGGAGE Lady

Contemplations about Life, Love, & the Pursuit of Meaningful Existence…

Archive for the category “Flight Attendant”

Love Always Wins

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“If love is universal, no one can be left out.” ~ Deepak Chopra

💕

Celebrating sixteen years of perfectly imperfect marriage this week, conflicted feelings wash over me. While I’m thrilled for my gay friends who finally share the right to marry in this country, the disrespectful dialogue generated by the ruling has been bewildering. Although derogatory commentary is sadly the norm these days, hearing the hypocritical roar from the so-called “religious” sector hollowed my soul.

Shouldn’t we be focusing on treating one another with dignity rather than groveling over marital definitions? After all, we’re an extremely diverse nation with a myriad of beliefs. Can’t we simply agree to disagree and respectfully move forward? Maybe even celebrate our differences and learn a wee bit along the way??

Heck, my husband and I said our vows on a beach and chose not to have children. In the eyes of some, we’re not “truly” married. Thankfully, we never had to go to court to argue whether our love was worthy of the marriage label.

With negativity dampening spirits aplenty, I keep returning to what I believe is a universal covenant:

I am a mere human, placed upon this earth to judge no one!

As a flight attendant, privileged to interact with hundreds of amazingly unique humanoids on a daily basis, I know how rapidly my day deteriorates when I fail to honor this fundamental principle.

Will I open my mind or open my mouth?

Endear or alienate?

Leave a peaceful trail or one of dissension?

Spread love or animosity?

Despite routine stumbles, whenever I don my compassionate heart, joy colorizes my life beautifully…

Because

💕LOVE💕

Always

Wins

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When Parents Opt Out

Precious times two

“They say that abandonment is a wound that never heals. I say only that an abandoned child never forgets.” ~ Mario Balotelli

💔

Working the last few flights of a three-day trip, I’m organizing the back galley when two little girls, I’m guessing to be around seven and four, come back to say hello.

“Are you our flight attendant?” the older one asks.

“I am.” I smile, a stack of napkins slipping from my fingers.

They rush over. “It’s okay, sweethearts. Don’t touch the dirty floor.”

Too late. They’ve already scooped them up, proudly dropping them in the trash.

“You look really pretty,” the younger girl says.

“So do you,” I say. “I love your shirt. Pink is my favorite color.”

She giggles. “Mine too, but this is actually my pajama top.”

“Well, it’s perfect — and it matches your shoes.”

She beams.

“Where are you going?” (I’m thinking Disneyland based upon our destination.)

“California,” the older girl says.

“Southern?”

“I’m not sure.”

“Are you getting off at the first or second stop?”

“The next one.”

“Then you’re going to southern.”

“Okay. ” She shrugs. “That’s beautiful.” She gently taps my bracelet.

“Just like both of you.”

They blush in unison, and I follow them to their seats, eager to compliment the folks responsible for raising such charming children.

“Are these your daughters?” I ask the woman they quietly slide past.

She purses her lips. “Oh, no.  I’m just escorting them to a new home. They’re foster kids, and I’m their case worker.”

My lungs lock. “Well, they’re adorable,” I choke out the words.

Her eyes dart in their direction. “Yes, I suppose so.”

I flee to my galley, tears of disbelief pooling. They should be going to Disneyland — NOT a “new” home!!!! What happened to their parents? Why are these precious dolls floating around the system? And what if things don’t work out this time? Should I call my husband and tell him I’m bringing home two angels to shower with love — and anything else they’ve spent their tender years going without?? I write down my name and number to give the social worker.

But my head interjects, giving my heart a run for its money: This is none of my concern. Who am I to interfere? I probably wouldn’t even qualify as a legal guardian — I’ve never parented anybody!

And so…

I do nothing but serve them drinks and peanuts, all the while marveling at their sweet demeanor and impeccable manners.

An hour later they wave goodbye, sparkly-eyed and grinning. They seem so happy so — well-adjusted.

They’ll be fine.

I tell myself

over and over

just fine…

gulp

blink

blink

💔

🌺For many, Mother’s and Father’s Days trigger more feelings of loss than joy. I dedicate this to ALL those who’ve had to grovel (like my husband) for the parental love I’ve taken for granted.🌺

***Luggage Lady is off to the Balkans. I’ll return with more stories soon…😘

(Photo: From our 40-mile hike to Machu Picchu, Peru 2013 💕 Incidentally, this darling boy had two doting parents hovering nearby…I just loved the picture.)

To My Cherished Airline Passengers,

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First of all, I want to thank you for making my job so rewarding. Many of you have visited my galley to share tales of love, loss, hope, heroism, military sacrifice, business innovations, health hurdles, medical miracles, travel recommendations, and lifelong dreams. I treasure every inspiring conversation, laugh, and occasional tear we’ve shared. I strive to ensure your journey is enjoyable and stress-free. So, when you leave my airplane smiling, it warms the cockles of my heart.

Aviators tend to be perfectionists, and my husband is no exception. He prides himself on thorough communication, comfortable cabin conditions, and flying finesse. If he can grease his landing for you, it makes his day. He wants you to walk off his aircraft relaxed, knowing your safety and well-being will always be paramount.

We’re a seamless team, looking out for you and each other on every single flight. When emergencies arise, we have each other’s backs more than ever. I may work with different crewmates each week — but the paradigm never changes.

Add to this synergy, the way you selflessly volunteer when we need medical assistance or respond in some other gallant manner — like the time two of you saved me from hitting the ceiling during clear air turbulence — and you can understand why it’s devastating to have the trust between us compromised.

I don’t wish to marginalize the Germanwings tragedy. I just want you to know, as perplexing and appalling as the disaster is, it only reinforces our bond. We’re truly in this together. Which is why, every time my colleagues and I welcome you aboard, we seek to honor that trust by doing everything in our power to take great care of YOU.

Love,

Your flight attendant (aka: Luggage Lady)

* * *

Dedicated to the beautiful souls of flight #9525 — we carry 💗you💗 in our hearts, always…

Travel’s Priceless Souvenir

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“I’ve orchestrated my life around travel because nothing else truncates imaginary woes or realigns perspective so stealthily.” ~ 💗Luggage Lady

✈ ✈  ✈

Two weeks after graduating college, I tucked a second-class Eurail pass into an overloaded backpack and jetted off to Europe. I saw the opportunity as a luxurious postponement of reality, but my ‘delusions of glamour’ shattered the moment that plane skidded to a halt. Far from lavish, the summer of ’88 revamped my sheltered mindset and fortified my coddled heart. Not a day goes by that I don’t thank my lucky stars (and my parents) for this gift.

Twenty-seven years and 56 countries later, here are a few introspective observations:

🌎 Hunkering in Dachau, Germany’s dank concentration camp gas chamber, death’s stench lingered in my imagination. Sickened by such incomprehensible horror, I focused on those who’d somehow survived the senseless carnage, praying they’d gone on to lead wildly fulfilling, dignified lives — complete with every well-deserved amenity.

(I have never experienced true suffering and have no excuse whatsoever for not adding positivity in my brief time here.) 

🌎 Swaying on unsteady legs in an African AIDS orphanage, jet-lagged and longing for caffeine, the guide announced the arrival of his American friends and the children swarmed. Frail arms clung to my knees, giant eyes gazing upward. I bit my cheek until I tasted blood to keep the pooling tears from falling and knelt down to join them.

(I know nothing of hardship. Overfed, overwatered, and otherwise overindulged — I have absolutely nothing to complain about — ever!)

🌎 When my Guatemalan tour guide asked if he could show me his new house, I agreed but worried what he’d be omitting from our tour as a result. I can barely recall the rain forest, but touring his minuscule cinderblock home, as he proudly pointed to the concrete floor and explained how he’d had dirt flooring his entire life, is something I’ll never forget. Shame prickled in my gut for all the creature comforts I had — and took for granted. Yet, there he stood, with his shy wife and cooing baby at his side, all of them beaming.

(How few material possessions we need! Family, love, friends, and the dreams we build together represent real wealth.)

🌎 I’d already been advised not to wander out of this Turkish port town’s tourist area and shooed from a mosque. Instead of visiting the woman’s designated prayer trailer, I roamed the residential back streets. My heart froze when I heard voices chanting, “American, American.” Before I knew it, a giggling boy and girl were grabbing my hands — just wanting to say hello.

(Political and religious zealots may capture the headlines and fuel fears aplenty, but they rarely represent the spirit of the people.)

🌎 As we prepared to sail away from Thailand’s Phi Phi Islands my husband smacked his empty back pocket and gasped. He’d forgotten his wallet in a massage parlor the previous night. The cynic in me thought we were more likely to be struck by lightning than to ever see the contents of that wallet again. Not only did he get it back, but when he offered a tip of gratitude, the business owner vehemently declined, saying, “You come back and visit me again — that will be my thanks.”

(Most people are good and decent and moral — and cynicism is such an unattractive waste of energy!)

🌎 Beyond the rear gardens of St Petersburg’s Summer Palace, my husband spotted his ideal food venue: a shish kabob cart packed with locals. Turned out, the chef/owner was Armenian and thrilled to have Americans patronizing his establishment. He brought a complimentary sampler platter to our table and sat down. The only problem? His English was extremely limited and, as you can probably guess, we didn’t speak a lick of Armenian. But, boy oh boy, did we ever have a blast communicating about his family and how he ended up in Russia, where we were from and what we did for a living…

(The desire to share one’s story is universal. Cultivate magical connections whenever possible.)

🌎 A darling travel mate was inspiring some Cuban school children to smile for our photographs. She shouted, “Cheese!” Seeing their confusion, she repeated the word in Spanish: “Queso!” Her sweet, albeit — completely lost in translation —  effort sent our group into giggling fits. The vision of middle-aged gringos practically rolling on the ground elicited enormous grins from the kids. Mission accomplished!

(A friendly demeanor and hearty helping of humor can overcome just about any barrier.)

🌎 Whether marveling over the Inca’s artistry at Machu Picchu or rocketing across the sky at roughly 600 mph, I can’t help but stand in awe of mankind’s ingenuity. From architecture to innovation, brilliance abounds! 

(Next time I start flapping my jaw about spotty internet coverage, or shrinking airplane seats, or any other deemed ‘inconvenience’ — may I honor humanity’s achievements by respectfully clamping my teeth over my tongue.)

✈ ✈  ✈

Travel’s Priceless Souvenir??

The empowering realization that we awaken our best selves each time we stretch outside our comfort zones and engage another, whether interacting globally or within one’s community: Greeting, smiling, listening, learning, and appreciating the diverse souls populating our planet, while celebrating how similar we truly are — hearts beating and breaking, just the same.

Machu Picchu -- WOW!

(photo from our Machu Picchu 42-mile hiking adventure 2013)

Ode to Cabin Crew

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I wanted to be a flight attendant for as long as I can remember. More than twenty years later, I still pinch myself from time to time. Although my experience has been overwhelmingly positive, there’s a dark side no one really discusses. We’re supposed to be social butterflies with contacts spanning the globe and bags expertly packed for our next exotic excursion, after all. Lonely, isolated, and disconnected are probably not terms most would associate with cabin crew. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. Maybe part of it is that we’re so busy caring for others that we forget to care for ourselves. Perhaps we bottle up the day’s negative energy, like the mountains of trash we collect but forget to throw away the former. Or maybe because we’re trained to calmly handle countless emergency scenarios, we’re terrified to admit when we need a lifeline of our own. Whatever the reason, we must do our best to look out for our sky family, honoring the fact that we’re forever united by wings…

💗I dedicate this to a dear sky angel who left this world far too soon. Rest in peace, sweet friend.💗

✈🌎 ✈

Hired for our upbeat personas, quick wit, and reassuring smiles

We’re kindred spirits united by similar dispositions

Our aluminum-tubed office affording a collage of continuous change

Crewmates bonding as seamlessly as the airplane generates lift

 

Perhaps it’s the liberation of zipping

Seven peaceful miles aloft across azure skies

Teetering on sparsely padded jump seats

We share stories those closest to us may never hear

 

Whether swapping tales of adventure

Or unfathomable challenges, lessons, and heartache

We inspire and garner fresh perspectives from one another

A myriad of personalities merging at 37,000 feet

 

Not just a career

But a dynamic lifestyle

Cherished wings

Symbolizing fortuitous passage to a boundless world

Thump against my ever-grateful heart

 

And yet – somewhere between the ‘hellos’ and ‘goodbyes’

A sense of impermanence looms

We’re independent souls

Or we wouldn’t have chosen this profession

 

But sometimes

When that hotel room door clicks shut at the end of a grueling day

A lonely heart slips beneath the covers

Brushing away a tear or two

And questioning

“Who’s going to have my back when my smile falters?”

✈ 🌎 ✈

(♥ Photo courtesy of a dear colleague’s friend. Check out her site, featuring the precious model above: http://karlaquiz.com ♥)

🌎 See also: Love Letters to Malaysia Airlines

Sweet Wanderlust

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The world enraptures

With spellbinding possibility

Spontaneous adventure ever-beckoning

Enchanting souls await your acquaintance

Charming with their

Inspiring architecture

Mesmerizing art

And impromptu street music

Rousing senses

Revitalizing spirits

An open invitation:

Come this way, dear friend

Devour uncharted terrain, cultures, and cuisine

With boundless intrigue

Savoring how each new experience

Kindles personal reinvention

Whether distant or near

May sweet wanderlust spark

Every footfall of your journey…

 

🌎 🌎 🌎

As I pack for a whirlwind tour of Ireland, Iceland, Greenland, Newfoundland, Québec City, & Montreal, I leave you with Khalil Gibran’s lovely words:

“For the breath of life is in the sunlight and the hand of life is in the wind…Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.” ♥ LL

 

 

 

Love Letters to Malaysia Airlines

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I wrote these words some time ago (https://luggagelady.net/2012/12/16/we-are-one/) but reposted the piece on my facebook page after last week’s heartbreaking airline tragedy. What happened from there was magical. A dear high school friend contacted me, asking to embed my poem onto her exquisite jewelry website. I replied with a resounding “YES!” and promptly added her lovely creation to a flight attendant networking site:  https://www.facebook.com/aflyguyslounge under “Love Letters to Malaysia Airlines.” (Please take a peek if you’re able as I believe the gracious sentiments from airlines worldwide will put a smile in your heart.)

Whether united by wings, artistic endeavors, or sheer compassion — we traverse this globe together — hearts overlapping… 💞

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 Luv

Redefining Happy

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The greatest privilege of being a flight attendant is crossing paths with passengers who completely transform your day life…

🌻🌻🌻

Jon was born three months early and diagnosed with cerebral palsy. The doctors told his parents the deformation in his brain’s frontal lobe was such that he’d likely never be more than a vegetable.

They were wrong.

Jon rolled down the jetway in a motorized wheelchair that allowed him to stand upright, looking like Robert Downey Jr. in the movie Iron Man. His megawatt smile and larger-than-life personality amplified my superhero impression. When I asked where he was traveling, he told me he’d been selected as one of seventy college students nationwide to participate in a five-day leadership conference. He’d be giving several motivational speeches.

“I love talking. Put a tree in front of me, I’ll talk to it.” He laughed. “My plan, once I get my master’s, is to be a motivational speaker. I’ve already produced a few short films, and I’m writing a book.”

“What’s it about?” I asked, thinking I had a fairly good idea.

“It’s about how the definition of happy is completely inaccurate,” he said, upending my presumption. “Happiness is not a single emotion. It’s the ability to appreciate all emotional states, learning and growing from both positive and negative experiences. People buy all these self-help books on how to be happy when what they need to do is engage the world around them. Happiness isn’t an adjective — it’s a verb.”

“Impressive wisdom coming from a college kid.” I winked.

“Well, I wasn’t always so smart.” He fidgeted with his cell phone. “In high school I got a little depressed, you know, focusing on all the stuff I couldn’t do. Fortunately, my mom is a very smart lady. She let me wallow in self-pity exactly three days. Then, we visited a kid born with my same condition. There I was staring into the eyes of a boy roughly my age, except he can’t move, can’t speak, can’t feed himself — nothing. He wasn’t as lucky as me!”

I nodded, digging my fingernails into my palms, trying in vain to keep the tears from pooling.

“Anyway, like I was saying,” he continued, “happiness boils down to how you choose to interact with the world. A perfect example of this occurred coming through security. When the TSA spoke to my travel assistant, their tone was totally normal. But when they turned to me, their voices shot up several decibels, addressing me like a kindergartener. Was I going to let that ruin my day? No way, Jose! I started joking around with them until they were clutching their bellies. By the time they were done scanning all my metal parts, I’m pretty sure they saw me as someone who wasn’t all that different from them.”

He shrugged. “And that’s my secret to happiness: When others treat me with indifference or disrespect, I show only kindness. Most people are so accustomed to confrontation, they don’t even know how to process this. Then, something shifts, and their entire disposition changes. That’s super cool to watch.” His smile illuminated the cabin.

“You’d make a great flight attendant.”

His eyes lit up. “I’d even sing!”

Not Goodbye — Just So Long for Now

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I remember lugging my backpack around Europe in the summer of ’88, enviously eyeballing the tour operators in their air-conditioned buses and thinking, must be nice. Soon though, it became clear that those peering from behind the fancy tinted windows were limited to staged visits at predetermined sites — extemporaneous exploration excluded. At twenty-one, immortality remained a reality but a wisp of doubt lingered: Perhaps bucket list pursuits came with a use-by date?

When I met my husband, he sported a fused ankle bone with a few steel screws drilled in for good measure (a youthful act of…let’s just say a lapse in judgment he’ll never forget). Besides triggering airport security (ever spy that airline captain standing spread-eagle?😜 ), the impeded mobility continues to challenge. Therefore, we never squander opportunities that may prove impossible tomorrow.

Blessed to work in an industry that allows generous vacation time and travel deals, we’re off to hike Machu Picchu — an itinerary that has us traipsing some forty miles through the Andes at altitudes exceeding 15,000 feet. We’ve been training, but I’m more harvest hen than spring chicken and hope I haven’t overestimated my prissy-girl parameters to my own detriment. Just praying I’m not the one they strap atop the poor rescue mule.

As this Bag Lady vanishes from the grid for a while, I wish you renewed celebration of life’s true fortunes: Smile ’til your cheeks ache, laugh readily with wild abandon, love yourself and all you touch whilst delighting in your every aspiration! I’ll be hyperventilating beneath celestial Peruvian skies…

Not Goodbye — Just So Long for Now! ♥♥♥

Thank You Military Personnel

I was working a flight over Labor Day Weekend when one of our country’s finest came aboard. As flight attendants, we had three clues:

(1) His camouflage backpack.

(2) His humble attitude (he sat in the very last row).

(3) A fellow passenger who’d spoken with him in the gate area and couldn’t wait to tell us about our esteemed cargo, making certain we were aware he hadn’t been home from Afghanistan since Christmas!

He slept the duration of the flight, but upon landing our lead attendant announced that we had military personnel on board and could everyone kindly give him the courtesy of deplaning first? I’d heard about this respectful gesture being extended in various venues around our beautiful country, but until I stood at the front of that airplane and listened to the thunderous applause, while this brave defender of our freedoms marched up the aisle, high-fiving every passenger sitting on the aisle (with others reaching out as far as their limbs would allow — just to make contact), I had never experienced the magnitude of appreciation from my fellow citizens.

I am boundlessly grateful for the military men and women who keep us safe each and every day — and for those who take the time to acknowledge their service and sacrifice.

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