Saturday, June 09, 2007

Stripes Of A Different Color

In school we ordered uniforms about a week before we graduated. Unlike any of the other uniform-type jobs I've had, this one has several different mix-and-match pieces... you can wear whatever you want. You get four shirts, and so I ordered two long-sleeve and two short-sleeve ones, to cover winter and summer. So far it's been winter, and you've seen me here in the blue stripe one and the solid blue one. And if I may launch a tangent: a word about the striped one. None of the security people recognize you as an FA in that shirt. I guess they think I look like a businessman with a thing for polyester. But it usually goes like this at the metal detector:

DUMB: Boarding pass, please.
ME: I'm the flight attendant.
DUMB (staring straight at me): Boarding pass.
ME (pointing to my wings and ID): Flight attendant.
DUMB: I need to see your boarding pass, sir. You're holding up the--
ME: I... am... the flight attendant... on this flight.

Two seconds pass. DUMB's face lights up with a dizzy grin as if I've just now appeared before him.

DUMB: Come on through, sir!

In North Carolina, a security butch actually argued that I wasn't in uniform. I was this close to asking her, "You think I dress like this because I think it looks good?" but the captain intervened. Seeing that she was wrong in front of a bunch of people, she ordered me a bag check just for spite. Things happen like that.
Back to the shirts. It's summer now, and it's time to break out the short-sleeve ones, and they look like this:

Yeah, it's the pilot shirt. It was one of the options for order, and I figured, when am I ever going to get the chance to seriously wear a shirt like this? So I got some. But a few things come along with wearing this shirt, though, for which I was not prepared:
For one, the pockets are wack. Even though it's a button flap pocket, it opens at the top, as if there's no flap. The button unbuttons, and the flap comes up, but there's no pocket under it... it's over the flap. That makes for a damn useless pocket.
Another thing is that, from a distance, some pilots think you're another pilot. Most pilots wear gold stripes, but some wear silver. And those ones give me the secret pilot nod that conveys solidarity among those who routinely sit in a too-small room in pairs to look at sky for twelve hours at a time. And if you're not ready with the return nod, well... you're out of the club.
Yet another thing is that passengers in the airport ask you questions on sight. It never occurred to me before, but I guess if you only go to an airport once a year and you see a pilot, you might well assume he works at that airport, for your airline, and possibly your very plane. So they ask. And invariably the answer is, "Sorry, ma'am, I don't work here," for which I get a stern stare. And most of the time I do feel bad, because hey, I am dressed like I ought to know something. But I am secretly waiting for some self-important cellphone-talking businessman to corner me and yell, "You know, my plane was late and it's your fault because the airlines are screwing us, and I scheduled a ten minute connection that I've gotta make, so why don't you do your job for once and tell me where the E concourse is?"
I am, of course, waiting for this so that I can say in my best pilot voice, "E gates? They're this way, down between the L and M concourses. Good luck, sir."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

My what a snazzy shirt. And nice pose for the picture. ;>

8:14 PM  

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