Friday, December 08, 2006

Taking The Lead

On my last trip, I got the LEAD position. In the airline that I work for, EVERYTHING works in seniority order...When you bid for work-positions on a flight, you go right down the ladder...If the senior person doesn't want the LEAD position on a domestic trip, the position goes down the line until it hits the most junior person...That means they work up front in First Class, board the plane, make the announcements...basically, I have the illusion of power. I'm also the lead communicator to the pilots up front. They can't come out unless I put up a meal cart in the way to hinder any attack attempts. SO...I don't usually like any leadership role but this one helped my confidence quite a bit. I learned that the secret to being Lead is to a)Be Organized, b)Exercise a bit of foresight...open up a couple extra bottles of wine for example...to avoid a time-sucking mad-scramble later...and c)Not to be overly concerned about being perfect. If you forget something or let something slide, Oh, WELL...shit happens to us humans, I guess... The whole experience helped to focus my confidence and motivation...Gave me some much-needed self-confidence...The ability to say "I can DO this..." Luckily, I didn't have any Unaccompanied Minors or Wheelchair passengers in the mix...but you see just how many cutbacks have taken place in the airline when you see how things are being done out in the domestic system...Some of the outsourced agaents don't know exactly what they're doing, everyone is understaffed and overworked...the caterers and the cleaners, especially...I think the most harried I've ever been. You have the caterers coming in one door while the passengers are boarding through the opposite door...My colleague and I trying to hang up First Class coats...forget about drink predeparture drink-orders...THEY're not happening in THAT mad rush... The worst was the boarding the Boston bound-flight...This flight is usually filled with what we cheerfully call "Beacon Hill Bastards"...all of the well-heeled lawyers and businessmen coming home from a grueling day of wheeling, dealing and hob-knobbing with America's Upper-Crust boardroom, Forbes-reading Millionaire contingent...Naturally, First Class was full and thankfully devoid of that BHB attitude...The luggage-quotient was ridiculous but I refused to get harried. When it came time to send rollerboard-luggage down into the cargo-hold, I did it with a business-like, matter-of-fact demeanor. No one gave me any grief but I was ready for it with a no-bullshit attitude. I don't care if these people earn ten times more than I do, how better they think they are...they were in MY arena now. The whole experience of serving drinks and dinner up in First Class reinforced the need to comport one's self in a dignified manner. I was dealing with Upper-crust people...I was going to have some class and respect...but I wasn't going to take any garbage, either. Seemed to work out okay. Complimented this renaissance man with a bow-tie, horn-rimmed glasses, and old-style briefcase on his gentlemanly demeanor... he RADIATED gentleman...and I that's something I respect. So I survived the lead experience, made a LITTLE BIT of extra money, and bolstered my confidence...I have to say, though, that domestic travel can be harder on the body than international...early-morning departures, sleeping at the airport, just feeling DAZED. This job AIN'T glamorous. I don't think it EVER was...and it definitely isn't NOW. Fly safe...GaP

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