Saturday, January 26, 2008

Yea Though I Taxi Through The Valley...

You all know about the brace position. That whole thing where you "put your head between your knees and kiss..." Yeah, I really stopped thinking that saying was funny around seventh grade, and now that I'm in this job, I've stopped even harder. But anyway, the brace position is real, and it works. Basically prepositions you as far forward as you're going to get, so that you suffer minimal deceleration damage during a sudden stop. There are several stories of people emerging from airplane crashes with only a few scratches having done the brace position (of course, 'only a few scratches' in terms of airplane crashes usually means 'both legs broken and liver missing'). You, as a passenger, only do the brace position when that proverbial thing is about to hit that other proverbial thing. And same for you if you're the forward FA, because you're facing backwards, and are already all the way forward. But if you're the aft FA, things are a little different. Since you don't have a seat in front of you to bounce off of, your brace position is head down as far as possible so you don't get whiplash when a captain stops suddenly at a runway-side fruit stand.
I enjoy being aft, because more often than not, I didn't get as much sleep as I needed, and with your head down, you can get thirty seconds of field shut-eye. But sometimes it can spook passengers. Being an FA is often theater in that you have to watch what you say and sometimes pretend that things are not as they are. For example, I never say "bomb," "terrorist," "explosion," "crash," "9/11," or "hijack," although there really are those things. In the same vein, I sometimes see superstitious people pat the hull as they get on board, and I'm quick to tell them that Canadair's built them a good plane. Understanding, then, that a passenger's feeling of safety is sometimes fragile, you can see why someone's confidence might take a hit when they see me in the jumpseat next to them all crunched over like something bad is about to happen. Several people have asked me if I'm praying. Even if I was praying, I'd never tell a passenger that. One lady even asked me this.* The more secular wits bag on me because of the four point seatbelt I've got on in the jumpseat. "How come you got that whole rig on, and all we got is this regular seatbelt?" I explain to them that part about bouncing off the seat in front of them, and that I don't have one in front of me, and that if I had a regular seatbelt on, chances are I'd go tumbling up the aisle in a sudden stop. That's usually a funny enough image to them to make them forget what they were talking about, and more than funny enough to me to make me forget them if they don't forget.

*This one is so stupid that it demands its own entry.


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