Monthly Archives: August 2003

August 11, 2003 Sao Paulo-JFK

I’ve seen The Simpsons in Italian, German, French, Arabic, Spanish, and now we can add Portuguese to the list thanks to late night Brazilian television.  The version that most closely resembles the voices of the real Simpsons are the Portuguese voiceover people.  Homer could’ve been better, but Lisa and Marge were fantastic. That’s really what makes or breaks a dubbed Simpsons show in my opinion.  Of course they’re going to make the main characters sound right, but if they take the time to nail Ralph Wiggum, Otto the bus driver, or Hans Moleman, then they’ve really done a fantastic job, above and beyond. I believe they really gave a shit.

The episode I watched last night is the one where they go down to Australia to settle Bart’s collect-call charge he bestowed on some unsuspecting bogan family.  Even their rendition of an Australian accent was spot on.  Well done Brazilian television! I’m glad somebody finally put some effort into getting it as close to reality as possible.

When they showed the machine in the US Embassy that reversed the spiral of the water in the toilet and made it spiral the “correct” American way, I immediately went into my fancy Sao Paulo hotel bathroom and made sure the water really did go clockwise.  It did.

I’m now on the plane back to New York and a few minutes ago I noticed on the flight map that we were crossing the equator.  I ran into the lav and did some experiments with the water and the drain.  I filled up the sink and let the water drain out.  I wanted to see which way the water went or if it’d just go straight down the drain since we were directly on top of the equator.  I tried it several times in several different ways but I didn’t get any absolute conclusions.  It just kinda went straight down which is actually what it does anywhere in the world in our lavs. I think I was the only one out of the two hundred some odd people on the plane that even thought of checking.

It’s moments like these when I feel very blessed that one of the worst parts of the job is incredible amounts of boredom you face when everyone is asleep in the middle of the night. I have to find ways to entertain myself, or else just sit and stare. I can read. I can write. I can notice little things and let my mind wander. If I have some silly notion about water spiralling down the drain and want to do some experiments, I get to do it, while getting $40 an hour.

Other people, when they think of the worst parts of their job, think of much worse things. They may have to do something utterly disgusting or dangerous.  A coworker’s life may hang in the balance based solely on their decisions and actions. They may have to come home smelling like sewage, garbage, shit, body odor, fish guts, or a crime scene. They may have to confront criminals or charge into burning buildings.

They may have to get up at ridiculous hours every single day and not come home again until the sun’s gone down. They may have to get on a ship and be at sea for months at a time without contact with loved ones. They may have to struggle through five days of torture just to reach that Mecca of the weekend where they can finally relax and do whatever it is that they really want to do.

I know I’m blessed and I wish some of my coworkers realized how blessed we really are. Some of them bitch and complain about the dumbest shit and don’t even realize that on our worst days in the office, we still have it better than 90% of the American work force.  Honestly, what’s the worst thing I have to deal with? Some passenger goes off on me for not having their choice of meal? Someone refuses to buckle their seatbelt during turbulence and we have a battle of wills? A Business Class passenger thinks they’re better than me and speaks to me in a condescending tone?  Please, who the hell cares! In a few hours those guys are off the plane and I’ll never see them again for as long as I live. I wish for one week every year our airline would make us take a job in the real world just to keep everything in perspective. Maybe after scrubbing toilets for ten hours a day that “asshole” passenger in 28J who had the gall to order his coffee without telling us if he took milk or sugar won’t seem quite as bad.

It really is a joke how little we have to complain about but that’s just human nature. It’s the Unbearable Lightness of Being. When we first start, we realize what a great and easy job we have. After a while, however, great and easy becomes base level and humans are never satisfied with normal. That’s when we take things for granted and completely lose perspective.

If we had a week every year to remind ourselves how wonderful we have it, then every single one of us would be much happier, friendlier, more accommodating workers in the name Customer Service. I know some of my coworkers think that the worst part of the job is dealing with the very real terror threat in the skies. I get that, I really do. I just don’t let that affect my view of the job.

The job is still a joke, despite that. Some flight attendants like to think that we’re on the front line in the war against terror but every job has its perils. The ladies who cleaned bathrooms in the World Trade center thought they had safe jobs. The teachers in Columbine thought they had safe jobs. The band on the Titanic thought they had a sweet ass gig. Something can happen anywhere and 99% of flight crews won’t have to seriously deal with a terrorist threat.

I don’t block out that possibility or think that I’m immune. I’m vigilant on the plane, and I’ll be the first one to tackle a guy trying to light his shoe on fire, but at the same time I don’t let that threat turn my easy breezy job into a source of stress. You just can’t live like that. I’m just sick of flying with people who think our job is on par with working in an Emergency Room, being an Air Traffic Controller or a Corrections Officer. It’s NOT, pure and simple. Those people have reason to flip out every now and then.

Ok, I guess dealing with these Chicken Littles is the worst part of my job.