They aren't always going to Disney World...

February 24, 2008 3 Comments A+ a-

I think all flight attendants have this story, or know someone that does. I was flying #1 on our Canadair Regional Jet (CRJ) a couple of years ago, and was closing overhead bins, while the #2 Flight Attendant was doing passenger count/weight and balance. About halfway back, there was a woman sitting against the window, clutching a canvas tote bag in her lap---it was pretty big, or full, for a tote bag--and, it needed to be stowed for taxi, take-off and landing. I asked her if she'd like me to put it in the overhead bin. She clutched her arms around it tighter, and said "no" in a trembling voice. I continued closing the overhead bins, since we had a lot of time before closing the door and I went back up front.

The #2 and I hung out in the galley and I mentioned the lady to her--and she, a rough and tough "biker chick" kinda gal, said "I'll fix her..." and started on a mission towards the lady. I pulled her back and said "No, let me..."

A few minutes later, it is almost time to get the door closed, I walked back and the lady was still clutching her canvas bag. I said, "We're about to close the door, would you like me to tuck that into the overhead bin for you?" Once again, trembling, she said "No." I lowered myself in the aisle and very quietly told her that we had to stow it for taxi, take-off, and landing--and, if she liked, she could put the bag underneath the seat in front of her. She just replied, with tears now streaming down her face, that it was her husband.

It took me a half-second to understand that inside the tote was her husband's ashes, in a box like this:

Having been "sort of" in her position--my Mom's cremains were in a box for many years, before we placed her ashes in the ocean--I understood that it was significant having this precious cargo NOT be on the floor or locked up next to a stranger's suitcase.

I asked her if I could keep her husband safe, next to me in my little cabinet, for take-off and landing--and told her I would bring him back to her as soon as I could get out of my jumpseat. She relented, and allowed me to take her most treasured package to "sit" next to me.

I did bring her husband back to her when I got out of my jumpseat--and we did the same for landing.

It was a reminder to me that not everyone who is flying is on business or vacation.

Recently, I had an older couple on my flight who were flying to Chicago (ORD) to bring back and bury their 20 year old grand daughter--who was killed in a car crash. The young woman was a single Mom and left behind a 4 month old baby. The couple was just heart-broken--their grand daughter had lived with them until a month or so before and had just recently moved from Omaha, Nebraska (OMA) to start her and her baby's lives fresh in "the big city."

So, when people are snippy, short, rude, unkind, or a little mean, I try to remember that I have no clue why they are on this plane, or what their life's circumstance is....I have to grin and bear it. Somedays, it's really hard...until I remember that I just don't know.....

3 What's YOUR view? Click here to comment, please!

Write What's YOUR view? Click here to comment, please!
February 24, 2008 at 7:05 PM delete

Great story! are right, we have no idea what is going on with these people and I try and do the same as you.

February 27, 2008 at 9:43 AM delete

Thank you for this reminder of how to treat people. You are an angel in the skies and we need more people like you in this world. I struggle with my own attitude, especially at home. And home is where it should all begin. Love to you, my friend! Safe journey! LilBit

March 3, 2008 at 7:55 PM delete

Sniff...what a good heart. But then, I always knew that about you. Makes loving you easy!