Deja Crew: Once and Again.
[Note: the Olympic Figure Skating commentary is on the bottom of this page.–Ed.]
This always happens, if you’re a flightcrew person long enough, sooner or later. Across the terminal, changing planes, maybe even on the employee bus, but somewhere in your polyester-clad day, someone catches your attention. Wait. I know you. But from where? Slowly, the fog of distance and time gives way to remembrance and:
So good to see you again, my old friend from “back in the early days” when “things were always fun,” when crews had more time to hang out, layovers were longer and everyone wasn’t beat to death or worse, older now. But we can catch up, remember, ask about other crew friends and see where everyone is, how everyone’s doing despite the ravages of time and the changes that have battered our work life. Who’s transferred bases or aircraft, married, divorced, retired or just plain old stopped flying altogether? Mostly, though, we remember, share a laugh, a good time.
Last summer it was us with a couple other crews shipwrecked in the Mexico City Airport Hotel because of thunderstorms in Dallas. Naturally, everyone hung out together and thank God we had Spanish-speakers on the crew to smooth the way. Remember that little dive behind the hotel?
Crews still go there. We stuffed ourselves to the gills for about $2.25 each. Of course, we paid dearly, eventually. Yes, the “Salmon Carpaccio” was delicious, seriously, (Note to Self: go ahead, eat raw fish in Mexico, then exist as a human shower nozzle for days afterward) but my fever lasted for a week and if I recall, the #1 Flight Attendant had to reschedule her bridal portrait because she was sick as a dog for days. Same deal at “The Nunnery” in Monterrey, Mexico, remember? You could make a meal of the excellent Tapas–then the Tapas would eventually eat YOU alive.
Or how about the long Mildew Plaza layovers in Manhattan, where we found out the reason the now defunct “Westside Cottage II” advertised “free wine with dinner:” it was so vile that no one could gag down more than a Dixie cup. Total. The van ride in, the van ride out: always a traffic snarl, but a social hour in the morning trying to wake up and not have a coffee bath on the pot-holed drive through midtown, a yack fest late at night from Newark or LaGarbage trying to wind down from eight hours of flying.
Don’t forget “Miller’s,” our old stand-by on Chicago layovers inside the Loop. How many frozen Lake Michigan arctic blusters did we weather there, only a merciful body slam or two from the welcome revolving doors of the Palmer House? Or before that, the Americana Congress across from the fountain: a cab ride to Gino’s, dash back, cut through Miller’s to save half a frozen block to the hotel.
And those nights in New Orleans, thirty hour DC-10 layovers, hanging at The Dungeon (all 1970’s classic rock–and only classic rock) which didn’t even open till midnight, after blind blues man Bryan Lee’s first set at The Old Absynthe House. Then a good eight hours rest at The Sonesta, and an eye-opening cafe au lait and beignets at Cafe Dumonde and we were good all the way to Seattle, never mind the powdered sugar all over the polyester uniform.
Was there anything better than downtown Montreal and charm of Old Towne? Never was a colder layover in winter, but the sidewalk cafes on summer nights–so European; the food, the bread alone worth bidding that trip.
Vegas? Oh, I remember. Just step across the street to the aging Tropicana, the smoky old-school casino with the hog trough buffets the ancient widebody captains just had to have. Then it was up to the big open air lounge for
watching the hookers work the old guys on package tours and assorted lotharios like the big cats stalking wildebeasts. Yes, you just have to laugh, and we did. Then back to work for another ten thousand miles.
Like right now: I know, you have to go, I do too. You’re headed west, I’m headed east but who knows, one of these days, we’ll see our names on the same crew list again. I hope so. Till then, take care, fly safe–and thanks for the memories. If were lucky enough to fly together again, we’ll make some new ones.
Okay, I don’t care what your coach told you, but there is NEVER a time when it’s okay for a guy to wear a clown suit like this on prime time television, never mind in international championship competition. Sure, your partner likes it and yeah, she’s kind of hot in a starving waifish sort of way, but jeez. Even with the mute button on–couldn’t take the mournful stale “Send in the Clowns”–and the nutcase judges aside, I threw up a little in my mouth when you zipped out on the ice in your clown jammies. For the love of God, you need to man up: pull a hockey jersey over that mess, pee standing up for a change, fart during a triple “Lutz” (whatever the hell that is, but it sounds official); I don’t care but stop ruining everything. I’m just sayin.’