I have a blog to recommend to you today. It's called Where the Hell Is Phil and is the hilarious and illuminating adventures of a young man working as flight attendant for a national US airline. He's exploring his country, discovering the depth of human stupidity and making me laugh like a crazy woman.
Phil is from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and while his history includes evidence that he has both worked as an actor and received military training, he hadn't travelled much beyond Baton Rouge before this job. Read the blog from the beginning, to witness him making the happy discovery that Wal-Mart is a chain, and gradually realizing that everywhere in America has ducks. I wonder how often my own naïvité has been this amusing.
He has a talent for noticing the ridiculous, not that the ridiculous doesn't regularly present itself to flight attendants, nor that he doesn't participate. Some samples ...
On his way to Utah: "Sat next to a teenage girl with a live turtle, and she kept holding it up to the window so it could see."
On the first aid segment of his FA training: "I had done first aid before in the Army, and it's very brief there. Things along the lines of, 'if severed limb is present, transport with but out of sight of victim'."
"I think it's really cool to work on a thing that has a 'galley,' because it makes it sound like your office is a pirate ship. Having said that, the galley is a nightmare. Imagine your kitchen. Now imagine it crammed inside the back seat of a Chevy Nova."
On his duty of closing the aircraft and cockpit doors: "I don't think there's another way to mess up closing a door, but if there is, I feel confident I'll find it."
"I was already having what I call a Bad Physics Day."
"And so now it's official: four out of four pilots recommend Asahi as a painful method of suicide."
A passenger once asked him a question that assumed the flight crew had parachutes. I wish to echo Phil's statement that we don't have parachutes. I have never had a job where I wore a parachute. The only commercial pilots that wear parachutes are those who drop parajumpers, and those who perform aerobatics routines.
It's not really feasible for me to jump out of my airplane during flight. Most airplanes are not suitable for jumping out of. There have been very few air accidents ever where parachutes would have done much to improve survivability. But the passenger belief that pilots all have them gave me a revelation.
Suddenly there is sense in the popular accounts of heroic pilots fighting with the controls to land the airplane in a field instead of hitting an elementary school. The public isn't praising the pilot for choosing between slamming into a brick building or skidding across a soccer field. They're praising him for piloting the airplane all the way to the ground when he could have just leapt out, parachuting to safety while the airplane hit the elementary school.
My very favourite entry is this one on pilot's kids. If you've ever enlisted friends or family to help you study for a new type, you must read this. Oh and when Phil moved to Utah he decided to go snowboarding. Just bought a snowboard and headed for the hills. No lessons, just strapped on the board and tried hard not kill himself. This is the pioneering spirit that brought us aviation in the first place. I bet Phil would accept a Flugtag invitation.