There’s one thing I hate about my job: having to wake people up to ask them to fasten their seatbelts.
It’s just not human. You’re overstressed and exhausted and you’ve finally found a way to fall asleep in your seat. And then, at the very moment you feel the tension leaving your body, and just as you’re about to enter dreamland, all hell breaks loose. Seconds before, Vivaldi was guiding you on your way to a nice dream and now the captain is yelling through your headphones that he’s sorry to disturb you, but you’re ‘entering an area of turbulence’, etc. Before you can actually grasp what’s happening, there’s this ‘blue monster’ of a stewardess tapping you on your shoulder and telling you to fasten your seatbelt. I really do understand the glances of disbelief and hatred that I get at those moments so well.
But there is something I hate even more: waking up a mother to tell her she has to take her baby out of the cradle due to turbulence. Here’s a good example.
My flight from Shanghai to Amsterdam was packed with babies and young children. If you closed your eyes, you could have imagined yourself in a kindergarten. Some of the passengers travelling without children were not amused at all. But neither were the parents of two babies, who were seated on the same row. As it happened, these two little ones were giving a lively concert. It’s amazing how much sound comes from such small human beings. Their parents were almost driven to tears, since they’d been travelling a long way already before boarding ‘my plane’. After an endless four hours, the babies finally seemed to get bored and in the end they fell asleep in their cradles. Only one minute later, their parents were sound asleep too. For as long as it lasted. “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain from the flight deck, I am sorry to disturb you but we have just entered an area of turbulence.”
Oh, I really hate it – especially as the turbulence (luckily!) turns out to be light most of the time. But one of the things we are faced with during our yearly flight-safety refresher courses are examples of what happens when turbulence becomes severe. That’s why I will always choose to be that ‘blue monster’ instead of the one that leaves you to sleep.
But, er, you could do me (and yourself) a big favour… Fasten your seatbelt visibly whenever you’re planning to take a nap. And then I can see it. Because, as I said, I really do understand those unhappy glances. But I also hate to be hated too.