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Flying After 9/11...(Part Three)

September 12, 2011

(Part One)
(Part Two)

The first flight I worked after September 11th was  BOS-ORD-EKC-ORD-EKC-ORD...meaning I flew from Boston to Chicago, then worked a "double turn" from Chicago to Kansas City return to Chicago return to Kansas City and then end my day back in Chicago.  This was a long day of travel...and there were many new security measures that had been implemented, yet nobody complained!

When I was training to be a flight attendant, we certainly learned about hijacking.  What we were told was to sit down, shut up and do as we were told.  Then when the plane landed in Cuba...or where ever the hijackers requested the pilots fly to....we would be rescued (or so we would hope to be rescued).  There was nothing in our training that told us how to notify the pilot that something was going on in the cabin...and to block the door.  Who would have ever thought the hijackers would fly the plane themselves?

Anyhow, what I remember most about flying right after 9/11 is that people were patient, and they were polite.  People looked out for the strangers they were seated next to.  Nobody complained when they stood in a long line for security.  Everyone paid attention and listened to the safety demo .  Nobody complained when they were told there would not be a meal service on their flight.  People looked at the bigger picture...some things are just not worth getting upset over.

I only worked two trips after 9/11.  I was known as a junior flight attendant...having been hired December 2000.  Since the airlines were cutting back flights and retiring airplanes....they no longer needed as many flight attendants.  I was placed on furlough by the end of September.  (Basically I was laid off, but maintained my benefits)...when the need for more flight attendants came, we would be called back by seniority.

That fall I went to live with my boyfriend in the city he was coaching in.  The team hired me to work in the office, and I learned more about the business side of hockey than I care to know.  I also took the time to travel the world.  With my boyfriend's blessing, I backpacked alone through Ireland for ten days. I went to Paris to visit friends. I saw New Zealand, Italy, Germany and did my Christmas shopping in London.

One night, when I was on boyfriend and I were talking about 9/11 and those we knew who had been killed.  I remember telling him that we are not guaranteed anything.  At that point, we had been dating almost five years and still we were not engaged.  Whenever the idea of marriage would come up, my boyfriend would say "We have all the time in the world."  Well guess what...we don't have all the time in the world!  The passengers on the planes? The people working in either tower? Those who lost their lives trying to save others?  What about their time?

In the summer of 2002 I was called back to work...and I had a shiny ring on my finger!  There was new protocol aboard the planes for safety and security along with numerous Air Marshals gracing the cabin each flight.  Our hours flown each day got longer and our layovers got shorter.  Slowly the meals were returned to the flights, but were now being sold.  People forgot their manners and once again thought only of themselves, their schedule, and their growling stomachs.  It was a completely different job than before.

I took a voluntary furlough in the summer of 2003, had a wedding and got pregnant...I was recalled September 2003 but opted to get a note from the doctor for my pregnancy.  I returned to flying for my second trimester but once again opted out of flying December 2003 until I gave birth the following Spring. I used my maternity leave (or what little I received) and resigned from United Airlines in the fall of 2004.

To this day, I never complain about lines at the airport.  I never get upset over delayed flights (It is always better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air, than in the air wishing you were on the ground!) I always pay attention to the safety demo, I would never think of pressing the call button (OK, that is just a personal peeve from when I flew)....and I always gift my flight attendants with my tabloids that I have read during the flight!

So forgive me if I sound "unpatriotic" this weekend.  But the memorials, television broadcasts, documentaries, panel discussions, photo opportunities are fine.....but if we are not going to act like we did right after 9/11...then it is all quite pointless.

In a week there will be new headlines to replace old ones, and we will all go back to our usual routines.  My blog will once again be full of silly pictures with hockey masks and funny stories to go with them...But if we can take one thing with us from this anniversary and all of our "where I was when" blog would be to remember how we acted in the days after the attacks.  We patiently stood in line at the grocery store, we made a point to speak to our neighbors, and we were just a little bit nicer than we were on September 10, 2001.


Big Fat Gini said...

I think what you've said is just the opposite of unpatriotic. The events of that day have been surrounded by a political haze. Right and left. Red and blue. I am not a middle ground "can't we all just get along" kind of person (and I am a dyed in the wool conservative), but it does sadden me to see that too many people have gone back to living in their "September 10th World." Life has changed, and in those days after, I never felt more proud of our nation and the way we came together in the face of that tragedy. Ten years later, I'm not sure if I would say the same.

Thank you for sharing your perspective.  

Ginger@NJAMT said...

Excellent...excellent...excellent point!  People forget too easily...why oh why did it take something like that to happen to make people be "nice, patient, understanding, loving"...isn't that what WE should BE everyday...all the time (well, for the most part, we all have bad days).

I also do not complain in long lines at the airport or anywhere for that matter, I let the person behind me go ahead if they have fewer items, I also wave "thank you" when driving AND I try to always treat people the way I want to be treated.  (I "gift" my trashy mags to the flight attendants all the time too!)

It was GREAT to "click" in for a visit...I shall be back!

Kudrocova said...

What a story!! And you have a great point..its so easy to forget!

TexaGermaNadian said...

Great point to this all. If anything, I hope that the remembering triggers some of those memories and actions that were so patriotic and unified after 9/11!