I’ve seen a lot of things while traveling, but this was a new one on me.
Imagine passengers waiting to board a sold-out flight at a gate that has seats to accommodate maybe a third of them. It’s ten o’clock at night on a drizzly January Sunday in Salt Lake City. Passengers are NOT happy that they have to check their carry-ons, but because it’s winter the suitcases are stuffed past capacity with warm clothes, and the overhead bins can’t handle them all. People are civil but tired.
Finally the gate is opened and the 1st class passengers board, then the special club people and parents of tiny tots, and then the rest of the unwashed masses. That last group definitely includes me. My seat is in the second-to-last row; I have pre-checked my bag because I’ll pay $25 any day to avoid the whole overhead compartment drama. I stand patiently in the 1st class section as anxious people down the aisle ahead of me search for available suitcase space.
Right in front of me, a diminutive Asian-American flight attendant appears, obviously a career veteran, blocking the aisle and holding a round serving tray aloft. A glass of Coke on ice leans precariously as the tray bobs and weaves just in front of me, but the veteran flight attendant never spills a drop. “Wait,” I think, “Beverage service while they’re trying to herd us all on board? Is she crazy?” Then I see who she’s talking to: two middle-aged smug guys who look like they could be college football coaches, giving her their drink orders. They must be complicated drinks because she listens patiently for what seems like forever. Off she hustles to Wish Fulfillment Land, clearing the path for Cattle Class to lumber forward. I can now leave 1st Class.
We cattle settle in as we pretend to listen to admonitions over the PA system: fasten seat belts, secure tray tables, return seat backs to their upright positions, turn off handheld devices, put out that crack pipe, note the exit doors, keep your hands in the cabin at all times, and await further instructions. Something like that, I don’t know.
Meanwhile, in 1st Class, I’m sure the smug boys were figuring out what cocktail number two would be. Wheels up.