Flying the Jacked-Up Skies
Monday, April 19, 2010

Hi!!!! I'm back! Oh, how I've missed you Internet!

In fact, there are so many things I've missed.

I've missed my tropical weather and my own cushy bed and I've missed my flossing addiction. That's right, my flossing addiction. See, I floss whenever the spirit moves me and the spirit moves me quite a bit. And since we were on vacation with other folks, I couldn't floss as much as I wanted to. Because, you don't floss in front of just anyone. That would be gross. Good etiquette deems you only floss in front of your family. So, I missed that. 

And, I missed my sweet big dog, Bella and believe it or not, I even missed the Moron twins

And oh my goodness, how they have grown in just a week's time! At this rate, they're going to be the size of Great Danes. 

But, most of all, I have missed telling you my stories and so even though the suitcases are untouched and the laundry is a towering pile of dirty, I am here with you, the only place I want to be. 

For this week, I will regale you with tales of our travel and do I ever have some tales to tell!

I'll start today at the beginning.

Probably the riskiest thing I do besides raising three daughters, is to hop on board an airplane. 

I don't like flying for so many reasons, but mainly because you're up in the air, thousands upon thousands of feet in the air, in a big metal bird. 

Now, I have had plenty of adventures in all the collective years of my flight travels. A memorable one that sticks out for me, was the time I was coming back from Ireland. Flying to the states from Ireland is one long-ass flight and I was so utterly relieved by the time we made our connecting flight in Atlanta. 

That is, until I boarded the plane. 

The first thing the gent sitting next to me said was, "I am 36 years old and this is my first time on a jet plane."

He said this with a heavy twang, mind you, a twang representative of banjoes and Pabst Blue Ribbon and junk cars on cinderblocks. 

My Hubby smirked on the other side of me. He claims the freaks of the universe are magnetically attracted to me and on most days, I can only agree with him. 

As I tried to make polite conversation with Mr. Aeryplane Virgin, the dude proceeded to pull what I can only assume was his best story out of his Skoal baseball cap. 

I'll try to make it brief, since I have wandered away from my story AGAIN, but it went something like this. 

"I took my son to the monster truck rally." Now, insert your own Alabamy accent. (That's how he pronounced his state, not me.) 

"He is durn four years old. And as we was trying to park, this girl was standing in the middle of the road, blocking our way. So, I honked my horn jest a little bit, cause we don't want to be late. And wouldn't you know it? That chick just lifted her t-shirt and flashed her big ole' tiddies at us!"

By this point, my Hubby was strangling on his cocktail.

"And my son said, "Daddy, look at those lady's tiddies!'" 

Because, I'm sure all 4-year old boys are taught the proper names of the body just like that. 

"And my brother-in-law and his 14-year old boy was with us and my son is just a-looing at those tiddies and wouldn't you know it, but my nephew, he hid his face, hid his durn face! I turned to my brother-in-law and said, 'What? Is your boy a homosexual? What is wrong with him?'"

By now, my Hubby was practically having a coronary at my expense. 

I didn't think the story could get worse until Larry The Cable guy said, "I says to my boy, 'Don't be telling your Mamma we seen some tiddies.' And wouldn't you know he burst out with it the minute we get home. My wife was so durn mad. She said, "He ain't sposed to be seein' no tiddies at 4. He needs to be at least 10.'"

I was sure I was going to have to hit the call button to get some CPR help for my Hubby at this point. 

I tried to steer Mr. Charm away from the tiddy talk, by asking him what event caused him to be on a plane for the very first time. Hoping against hope, it wasn't a Hooter's convention. 

Thankfully, it had something to do with his work as a pipefitter. He was going down to our neck of the woods to meet up with other pipefitters for something. I don't know. I was just thankful to be talking about something other than tiddies. 

He then asked me for suggestions for restaurants and as I listed places I thought might appeal to him, my Hubby leaned over with a piece of paper and said, "This is all you need to know, my friend."

He'd written down the name of the infamous strip club in our area. 

The tiddy pipefitter was more than overjoyed for that recommendation. 

So now, back to my story. As usual, I was a big bundle of nerves. The crazy flight attendant we were lucky enough to get, didn't help matters in the least. 

Now, I empathize with flight attendants. I do. Their job is thankless and when they have a douche onboard, (which is quite often from what my flight attendant friends tell me), they're trapped with the douche. In the sky, douche-trapped. 

So, I always befriend the flight attendant. I'm always nice and oozing with the schmooze. 

I schmooze with panache. 

We like flying Southwest. We love their efficient ability to keep their flights on time. We love their courtesy. We love their safety record. 

And so does Ralph Nader, by the way. Read about my adventure with Ralph, right here

When we fly, I pay the small fee for early bird seating. It helps alleviate a little of my angst to be able to board the plane first. And it's even nicer to snag an exit row, especially with my history of blood clots. 

This time, we boarded the plane and surprisingly there were many before us who'd gone early bird, too. The flight was packed. I slid into the last seats on the exit row still not taken. And the flight attendant who was standing there monitoring the rows, said, "Excuse me, you can't sit there. I can't let you sit there as a family"

We reassured her that only two of us, would be sitting in the exit row, one parent and one very capable teenager, who was old enough by law to sit on an exit row. 

(Our poor little Odawg was not with us, sadly. Our other girls' spring break coincided with her finals week at college. We miss not having her with us, but more importantly, we miss the great meltdown pictures she's so great at.)

But this flight attendant came out with, "No, I can't let you sit there, because your priority would be to your family instead of the rest of the plane. And I need to have passengers in these seats who will make the entire plane's safety their main priority."

We were like, "Huh?"

She repeated her directive and the people around us actually started muttering in our defense, "You can't do that!" 

She was firm. No matter how much we tried to assert our right to those seats. 

I nudged my Hubby who has NO problem EVER asserting his opinion and whispered, "Two words: Air Marshals. We have to do what she says."

My Hubby swallowed the woman's ridiculous directive and escorted both my girls to a regular row and told me to take the exit seat. 

The flight attendant then said, "Oh no. I can't let you sit there, either. I can't be assured that your main priority won't be to your family instead of the other passengers."

At this point, the big man in the exit row behind me, said, "You've got to be kidding me!"

My Hubby joined in with, "Don't worry about my children. I will take care of them in the case of an emergency. My wife WILL be sitting there. She needs the room for her legs."

And as I stood there, confused and unsure of what to do, there was this one thought that ran through my brain: Yes, without a doubt, even if I was there right alongside him, My Hubby would rescue us all. There is no doubt. 

Finally, thanks to the chorus of protests in my defense from the people around me, the flight attendant agreed to let me sit there, "against her better judgment." 

And as I sat there stretching out my legs, my family a couple rows behind me, thanks to her family discrimination, I thought to myself: What gives her the right to judge us with those parameters? If using a preconceived notion to determine who should be allowed to sit in the exit row, why not rule out married couples because won't they be more concerned with each other?  Or how about the glossy, woman in heels, because she might be too into herself to help others? Or how about the fat guy who might be too out of shape to do anything but pant?

If it wasn't for the fact that just about anything these days, can get you thrown off a plane, I think I might have had to debate her. 

But, then it got even better. 

When it was time for her to instruct us on emergency procedures, she asked all of us exit row folks for our attention. When the guy across the aisle kept playing games on his phone, she asked him to pay attention. A few minutes later as she was going through the details, she interrupted the speech to inform the dude if he didn't keep his eyes on her face, she would have to get the air marshals involved because "air safety is serious business, Mister."

And it got EVEN better. 

After the usual instruction, she singled out two men, one on each side of the row and put them in charge of opening the door. This was fine by me. The dude on my side just might have been Grizzly Adams. He looked like he could grapple a bear and most definitely an airplane door. I was more than glad to let him bust us out of the plane.

But, THEN she told the rest of us, we had the job of calling out to the other passengers and directing them to the exits. She ended her instruction with this bit of gem: The rest of us exit row folks were not to leave the plane until we had successfully helped everyone else off the plane. 

I was like, "What the hell?" 

I'm definitely in for helping the elderly and the moms with small tykes, but the WHOLE plane? And I paid extra for this?

When did ten dollars become my fee for risking my life for a plane full of panicked passengers?

I sat there mulling over all of these things, getting myself worked up good.

Now, I'm the first one all up in support of airline safety. I never take my eyes off the flight attendant during safety instructions. I know where the exit rows are located. I actually study that door diagram and pantomime the movements, to my children's mortification, to make sure I can remove it.

Butttt, this was taking your job, off the hook, serious.

Grizzly Adams behind me, muttered, "Freak" under his breath. 

I think we all felt that way. 

My wonderful Hubby who knows me so well, sensed my outrage from his discriminated rows away from me. 

At drink time, the same freak flight attendant, pressed a pretty, cranberry colored cocktail into my hand and said, "This is from your husband."

He's such a good man. 

Not too long after that, she was handing me another one. 

I hadn't even finished the first one. I was afraid to reach my hand out, worried she might slap it because I needed to stay completely alert for the moment I needed to rescue everyone from the plane. 

Surprisingly, she gave it to me. 

It wasn't too long after that, that I started to regret my two cocktails. See, I'm a lightweight. Two cocktails on me, is enough to put me into a snoring stupor. And I didn't want to sleep. It was the middle of the day. Colorado was waiting for me and besides I drool buckets when I sleep. 

It's not my best look. 

But, here again, my Hubby rescued me. Crazy was there right as my eyelids began to droop with a coffee for me, per my Hubby's request, all milky and sweet, just like I like it. 

I had two sips of my coffee when the pilot announced we would be running into some turbulence. 

Before he could even light up the "Click It" sign, Crazy was upon me, swooping the coffee out of my hand, telling me that risk of flight burn was serious stuff indeed and I would not be allowed any more coffee. 

That whole bit of crazy was combined with the Alanis Morissette skeve lookalike who sat in front of me, who kept chatting on her phone as we were pulling away from the airport. 

I was getting ready to lean up and smack her on her frizzy head, since the dude sitting next to her didn't have the guts to say anything, instead just staring at her. But, thankfully, the attendants announced over the PA that whoever it was that was on their cell phone, needed to power it down. NOW. 

She continued to talk, ignoring the announcement. 

Now, here again, I am all about the safety. I was about to leap out of my seat and wrestle her to the ground when a flight attendant came by and ordered her to get off her phone. 

Thankfully, it wasn't the Safety Nazi. Things would have really gotten ugly then. 

As she sighed and begrudgingly got off her phone, she said to the dude next to her, "You know, I watch Discovery Channel. They say that the cell phones don't interfere with the plane's navigation. They say it's an urban myth."

Now, I can point out an urban legend in a heartbeat, but why on this earth, would you even attempt to f***ck with this one? You're talking planes and navigational interference. Why even try? What are you gonna say if the plane suddenly veers off the runway and crashes? "Huh, I guess I was wrong." I really wanted to swat that dumbass a good one, on the side of her frizzy, unwashed head. 

She was the same way whenever they asked her to raise her seat back. She snorted and sneered, "Whatever" before acting like it was the biggest chore in the world to raise her seat up the 2 inches. 

Why are beastly girls so miserable? Or maybe it's the miserable that makes them so beastly. 

Anyway, I figured that was enough flight shenanigans for one vacation. 

Was I ever wrong. 

On our ride home yesterday, I noticed a pungent smell within seconds of sitting down. As I sniffed around, my nose in the air like a bloodhound, I realized it was coming from the seatback in front of me. On closer inspection, I discovered that someone had vomited on the seat and then must have done their best to wipe it up.

Their job was shoddy to say the least. 

As I made my discovery known to my Hubby, the woman in front of me turned and said, "Is that what that smell is?"

It was that bad. 

As soon as I could get a flight attendant's attention, I showed her the seat and told her what it was. 

And her answer, like any flight attendant worth their salt, was, "Well, I don't know what you want me to do about it!"

I'd start with a little decency. 

My Hubby said, "How about some disinfectant wipes?"

She stormed off. My daughter, who was sitting across from us with some of our vacation buddies, said the flight attendant rolled her eyes as she walked away. 

She did come back with a garbage bag, some napkins, a tiny disinfectant wipe, some club soda, and some rubber gloves. She handed the whole biohazard cleanup kit to me and told me to have at it. 

The lady in front of me donated her sweet-smelling hand sanitizer. 

Here are the photos of me cleaning up the dried-up vomit. 

Thanks to the Moron Twins, I've gotten pretty good at that skill. 

The folks around me started calling out to me, asking me if I would clean their seats when I was through. 

I don't think my Fly The Friendly Skies Flight Attendant, appreciated the humor. 

I finished up the job by ripping out all the perfume samples in my Vanity Fair and rubbing them across the seat. 

Airline travel never smelled so sweet. 

More stories to come. And trust me when I say, they get FAR better. 

Today's Definite Download: "Learning to Fly" by Tom Petty. Jeff Lynne of ELO fame, co-wrote this and you can definitely hear his influence on this song. 

God Bless Tom, our small-town Florida son.  I bet ya he never took his preschooler to the Monster Truck Rally. 

I'm learning to fly but I ain't got wings
Comin' down is the hardest thing

Well the good old days may not return
And the rocks might melt, and the sea may burn

I'm learning to fly but I ain't got wings
Comin' down is the hardest thing

Well some say life will beat you down
Break your heart, steal your crown
So I started out for God kno ws where
But I guess I'll know when I get there

I'm learning to fly around the clouds
But what goes up must come down 


Every day reader said...

Welcome back. I'm glad you didn't have to face lava ash delays. You really had a horrendous trip.

Anyway, remember when they used to call them the "Friendly Skies"?

I, too, was on a flight where the guy next to me was talking on his cell phone. I told the attendant but she pointedly refused to get into a confrontation with him.

Since he talked before, during and after takeoff and we remained in the air, I figured it really doesn't matter.

Together We Save said...

Oh my this story has made me laugh and laugh!!

Anonymous said...

Oh my Lord. I hope you got the girl's name and write a letter about the vomit incident. That is unbelievable!!!!

I hate to fly too. I try not to as much as possible and so far so good!

Judie said...

My husband promised me that I wouldn't have to drive with him all the way to NOLA, and Atlanta. He has finally realized that I have a mild case of agoraphobia, and that any car trip that is outside my comfort zone (which happens to be Tucson Mall) makes me extremely nervous, and queasy, and eventually makes me cry and sweat. I was elated--that is until I read your post. I am begging now for anyone who can spare a couple of tranquilizers to please send me sone, so I can go into a coma after I board, and be helped off and into a wheel-chair for the trip to the baggage area.
Thank you, Joann, for your interesting and terrifying post.

Terra said...

Gurl, I am glad you are back, having survived the "friendly" skies and having not skied.

The Furry Godmother said...

Oh, I should blog about the first time I ever skied. It is the reason Furry does not ski to this very day.

She drinks toddies by the fireplace and has massages. As God intended.

Paula said...

Oh My God, all I can say is you have got to be f***ing kidding me. Little Mary Drink Cart there is off her gd wagon, is what. I'd've been thrown off that plane because there is no way I'd've kept my (big fat NY) mouth shut.

Also, I would save my husband before strangers, but the chance of my kids being saved first changes on a daily basis.

Dawn in D.C. said...

Oh! That was too funny!

It almost, ALMOST, beats the 16 hour flight with a woman sitting next to me with two children under the age of 3 who took an immediate and extremely intese dislike to me. One proceeded to scream in terror every time I looked his way. For. sixteen. Hours.

Oh, did I mention I was by the window with no escape? They couldn't bring the bloody marys fast enough!

Can't wait to hear the other stories. Furry? I'll join for toddies any time. I think everyone knows I don't do snow, so skiing is totally out of the question.

Anonymous said...

Dee from Tennessee

Love your heart girl!

Friendly skies indeed. You've brought a much-needed smile to this ol' gal's face!

Tiffaney said...

Forest Gump and his Alabamy tiddies slayed me. Clearly, flying the unfriendly skies is like a box of chocolates. I've missed you and I'm so glad you're back!

pieters said...

welcome home dear! great post. weird tho - didn't show up in google reader or on my blog feed.


Mom vs. the boys said...

love the melt down pic! lol too funny
I have an award for you on my blog!

Rae said...

I have missed you!
I loved the beginning of the story where you got stuck next to "Bubba".
I was laughing at loud- and then got choked when you said he was a pipe fitter! So is my husband! But my husband doesn't have an accent or frequent tiddie bars! ha!
I am flying for the very first time in 13 days. You are really scaring me, friend!

Christine Macdonald said...

I've missed you!!! Can't wait to hear more, Ms. Schmoozer! LOVE the photo of your girl. :)

PS: I would have done the same w/ perfume magazine pages.

Lisa said...

OH, OH, OH!!! You KNOW I have to comment on this...but first, welcome back!! I missed you!

1. Southwest is NOT the "friendly skies". They are the "cheap-o, practically like riding a Greyhound skies." United's motto is "Fly the friendly skies". Next time, fly UAL!!

2. Those F/A's were bitches.
a. As a former f/a, let me assure you that you ARE NOT required to remain onboard until all the passengers have gotten off, just because you sat in the exit row. Furthermore, there is no reason on earth that your husband or teenage daughter could not sit with you. The ONLY thing required is that you pay attention to the safety briefing, and are physically able to open the exit. Directing people off the plane? Remaining onboard? Those are F/A responsibilities. You are not being paid by SWA, hence you are NOT required. What a bunch of crap, and what an idiot that airhead Hitler wanna be was. Definitely write a letter to the airline to complain. (I hope you got her name!)
b. I actually sympathize with the other one (a little) - it definitely is NOT her job to clean up that crap...but she should have been nicer about it. I would write a letter about this flight as well - because besides her crappy attitude, the cleaners did not do their job.

Poor you! I'm sorry your flights were so bad...but it could have been worse I guess....there could have been a guy sitting next to you talking about "tiddies"!!

Welcome back!

Jen said...

I'm so glad you are back. I missed you and the moron twins a whole lot.

It's amazing you got off that plane without smacking anyone. Your husband is a gem.

arlene, the boring said...

Ok, I have wiped the tears from my eyes and my coughing fit has subsided. BTW, I am at work. Methinks I'd better not read you at work anymore. My dear, you are priceless.

Joann Mannix said...

Thank you, Arlene the Boring and by the way, I love your name. I guarantee you are NOT boring!

Judie said...

Joann, thanks for your nice comment on my blog. If you are trying to make up for scaring me half to death with your airplane saga, forget it! I am now dreading the plane trip almost as much as a car trip. Nice going.

Even though the first winter in Chi freaked me out, my time there ended up to be very rewarding. I love the city, especially in the summer. When the storms come through, the light shows are almost as spectacular as the ones here in Tucson.

Anonymous said...

Dear Joann,

The vomit wasn't mine. How do I know it wasn't yours? Besides, I gave you plastic gloves!

Next time if you want "service" fly first class.

Your Friendly Flight Attendant

Anonymous said...

Um, wow. You have some serious patience.

Also, missed you while you were out galavanting the world!

Bossy Betty said...

Oh my gosh! This post had it all--characters, drama, AND dried vomit! Excellent! Glad you are home and I trust you are flossing like a maniac.

JennyMac said...

He said this was a heavy twang, mind you, a twang representative of banjoes and Pabst Blue Ribbon and junk cars on cinderblocks.

that flight? The flight attendant? The vomit? I am pouring you a giant glass of wine (from one of your fave Sonoma vineyards) right now!

Anonymous said...

Well, at least you got one heck of a blog post out of it! lol.

NYC Single Mom said...

following you from FFF on MBC

NYC Single Mom said...

following you from FFF on MBC

NYC Single Mom said...

following you from FFF on MBC

NYC Single Mom said...

following you from FFF on MBC

NYC Single Mom said...

following you from FFF on MBC

Alexandra said...

Have missed your writing. An awful lot. Good to have you back.

Dee said...

No friggin way. I mean, Bubba dude was probably one of my kin, and I ain't kiddin.

But, that whole thing about what passengers can sit where? WTH?? I understand the need for safety, but if they want someone who is willing to forget about their own family, and STAY until the last passenger is off.... they need to hire someone, not expect civilians to do it!

Anonymous said...

ROFL, I'm sorry, but that story had me cracking up!

We're due to fly this summer and I hope to God we don't get a flight attendant from you know where!

Kelly said...

You said "tiddies!" Heh heh. Heh heh.

Oh, I've missed your stories, adventures and updates on the Moron Twins. So good to have you back!

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