When applause means more than, “You didn’t kill us!”

20 Sep

It was kind of like this. But in a bigger plane.

I flew to LA yesterday for work, and I’m about to say something that (I’m sure) will jinx me: I. Had. The. Best. Flight. Ever.

Seriously? I hate flying. Really hate it. I’m pretty sure I’d feel that way just on the basis of how often I do it, but it doesn’t help that in a past walk of life, I was spoiled with First Class tickets and lear jets. Once you’ve seen what’s on the other side of the curtain, it’s kind of hard to go back. Especially when going back means being wedged between a screaming baby and an Arm Rest Hog.

When I fly coach, I’m usually just looking for a safe flight. As a control freak, I spend a fair amount of time concerned that the pilot is either tired or drunk, and that the mechanic was either rushed or frustrated with his employer when he gave our ride the once-over. Every bump of turbulence sends me speculating about how we’ll meet our fiery death. (Will I pass out from a lack of oxygen, or still be conscious when each organ bursts?)

Yesterday morning, I headed into the flight expecting it to be worse than average. For starters, I had accidentally left my iPad at home. The same iPad I updated the night before specifically so it would have the latest issue of Vanity Fair and my book club’s October pick on it. I won’t lie – there was more than a moment of panic when I realized I was facing a five hour flight without entertainment.

Of course, the entertainment was a back-up plan. Whenever I travel for work, I try to work on the plane. But if it’s a horrible flight that has me convinced we won’t actually arrive at our destination with a pulse, I need some kind of major distraction to prevent me from getting all the passengers worked up about the safety of our flight. So I boarded Alaska Air in DCA with a sense of dread, thinking about my iPad, still snuggled in my sheets where I left it.

It was a full flight, but I was fortunate to share my row with a gay couple from Portland who had just been in DC for a friend’s wedding. At least, I assume they were a couple because they had matching his-and-his travel coffee mugs. I was impressed when they fished them out of their bags, shortly before the beverage service commenced.

I pointed at them. “Do you do that for environmental reasons?” They nodded. Right on! Sharing my row with thin, polite, eco-friendly gay men? It’s kind of like a Friday night dinner party at my house! I remember checking the “aisle” preference for my seat assignment, but it’s like Alaska Air actually did a personality profile to make sure I was flying with friends.

Unfortunately, the flight attendant didn’t understand why they had brought their own mugs. She thought they were trying to cheat the system and get more than their fair share of coffee. “Sorry, but I can’t fill those up,” she told them.

“That’s fine,” the guy next to me said. “I’ll take whatever you can give me, but I’d like it if you could pour it in here.” He held out his mug.

“Sorry. I can put it in this cup? Then you can pour it from the cup into your mug?” She offered.

“But that defeats the point. We don’t want to use as plastic cup.”

She wasn’t getting it, but the exchange was still pleasant, unlike what I’ve witnessed on other airlines. “But I can’t let the coffee pot touch something that isn’t clean…”

“Fine, I’ll skip the coffee then,” the guy said. But he said it in a simple, accepting way, not the bitchy way someone else might deliver that line.

“So you don’t want coffee?” she asked, now truly confused.

“I do want coffee. I just don’t want to waste a plastic cup,” he explained.

A lightbulb went off and she managed to pour the coffee into his travel mug without the pot touching it. Bravo! Meanwhile, I continued sipping my Diet Coke, feeling very guilty as I eyed the plastic cup and the aluminum can on my tray table. Sigh. Definitely going to eco-hell for this. As if the carbon emissions trailing the plane weren’t enough to feel guilty about.

I fired up my laptop and decided to work. You know what else makes Alaska Air rock? In-flight WIFI for $4.95. That’s a dollar an hour. And it allowed me to plow through a pile of work. I was happily clicking away, chatting people back on the ground, when the woman across the aisle from me began to take an interest in what I was doing.

She leaned over and started to grill me with questions. What do you do? How long have you done that? Where do you live? Do you travel a lot? Do you like your Apple laptop? Is the wifi free on this flight? How long are you in LA? Is this plane cold?

Her nails did NOT look like this. But these are definitely disturbing. Especially to a candy lover.

I tried my best to answer succinctly and get back to work, but she clearly wanted a conversation. I studied her, looking for something that could engender a larger exchange. All I could come up with were her nails, which were absurdly long and looked like Jackson Pollack had painted them.

I decided to forget the conversation and continue working.

Apparently the pilot had other plans, because he came over the intercom and announced, “Folks. Great news! Our flight path takes us right over the Grand Canyon today and it’s pretty clear so you’ll get a nice view out the right side of the plane in about 15 minutes. I’m going to check with ground control to if we can change our course a little bit so that both sides of the plane will get a view.”

I continued worked until – fifteen minutes later – the pilot came back on the PA system and said, “OK. So I’m going to tilt us to a bit so everyone can get a good view out the right side of the plane. And we tilted and the windows were suddenly full with nothing but the expanse of the Grand Canyon.

After flying that way for about five minutes, the pilot said, “And now I’ll give the left side their view.” And he did.

After a total of about ten minutes, he popped back on. “I hope everyone was able to see something. The Grand Canyon is something special!” And the passengers started clapping in response. I was somewhat dumbfounded, since the only other applause I’ve heard on planes is after a particularly dicey landing.

As a trainer who is in Los Angeles specifically to talk with new hires about the role they have been charged with in our organization, that’s what I want to convey: that passion for your job can have a ripple effect. We don’t always get applause, but we have it in our power to make the world a wee bit better than we found it.

When I got off the plane, I thanked the pilot and the flight attendants for a great flight and was ready to start singing the praises of anything from Alaska. But then I remembered Sarah Palin.

I think I’ll limit my enthusiasm to the airline, thanks.

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147 Responses to “When applause means more than, “You didn’t kill us!””

  1. Ms Mary September 20, 2011 at 8:42 am #

    Love the moral of the story.

    • pithypants September 21, 2011 at 9:06 am #

      Thanks! So did my new crop of trainees!

    • denise:) October 26, 2011 at 9:20 pm #

      Me too- totally didn’t expect it but Bravo!

  2. Alicia September 20, 2011 at 8:45 am #

    Awesome! Did you also thank them for giving you an anecdote you could share with your trainees? “Now here’s an example of great customer service…”

  3. k8edid September 20, 2011 at 8:57 am #

    My husband and I took the little plane out over the Grand Canyon last fall. It truly is spectacular and although I battled a little nausea and depth-perception issues, it was a lot of fun for being in a plane. I also hate flying. Thanks for sharing this story.

    • pithypants September 21, 2011 at 9:05 am #

      Very cool! Thanks for reading!

  4. Barbara September 20, 2011 at 10:14 am #

    I absolutely love that your seat mates had travel coffee mugs. I always bring my reusable water bottle with me on flights, and just fill up at the water fountain before boarding. ‘Course, last time I did that I also managed to leave it on the plane when we de-boarded. Ack.

    • pithypants September 21, 2011 at 9:04 am #

      Me too! The thing that made me laugh was they were like uber-sturdy, camping quality travel mugs. And each one could EASILY have swallowed the entire pot of coffee.

  5. Lorna's Voice September 20, 2011 at 10:22 am #

    Theres material for blogging everywhere, isn’t there? Great story! I love the woman who was so curious about what you do. There’s ALWAYS one of those ladies or men or children around!

    Hope the trip back is equally as great and we get to hear about it. 😉

  6. thesinglecell September 20, 2011 at 10:43 am #

    I just flew and couldn’t help but wonder why people on planes don’t take hints that mean “I don’t want to have a conversation with you” – whether it be a book, earphones, a laptop, or whatnot. But given that the woman across the aisle was the least pleasant part of your flight, I guess that’s not bad. I do have to laugh about two guys flying cross-country on an air-polluting jet not wanting to use plastic cups (which are recyclable), though. Heehee. Have fun in LA.

    • pithypants September 21, 2011 at 9:03 am #

      Once she told me what HER job was (coordinating the return of fallen soldiers’ belongings to their families), I felt obligated to be a bit nicer to her.

      • thesinglecell September 21, 2011 at 11:52 am #

        Oh. Well now I sort of feel bad.

      • terese September 21, 2011 at 2:43 pm #

        OMG, that has got to the most heart wrenching job ever!

        Great blog post.

        P.S.- Our cardiologist on our board says that most people die of an aortic dissection – out as soon as you lose the cabin pressure?

  7. Danielle September 22, 2011 at 1:14 pm #

    i LOVE THE SARAH PALIN COMMENT! Hilarious

  8. westwood September 22, 2011 at 2:35 pm #

    Ha, well written and hilarious.

  9. dribblingpensioner September 24, 2011 at 3:47 pm #

    Another new blog found and thank you for subscribing to my site pithypants, i will do the same for you.
    Sarah Palin for President, whats the states coming to.

    Hello to k8edid and Lorna.:)

  10. WayWordBound October 26, 2011 at 12:52 pm #

    I have had the same experience of trying to get into my own zone but a nosy neighbor always wants to chit chat about random things. I loved reading this, you have a really great voice for storytelling. I will be returning!

  11. Alex Yeates October 26, 2011 at 12:52 pm #

    Sometimes the best bit about traveling is the journey there. 🙂

  12. Jenny October 26, 2011 at 12:56 pm #

    I’m flying in two weeks, and your entry gives me hope that people who hate flying can still enjoy flying. Seeing the Grand Canyon must have been incredible from that view.

  13. Peas and Cougars October 26, 2011 at 1:08 pm #

    Wow, sounds like a nice flight! I’ve never been lucky enough to fly business or first class, but I had a good flight a few months ago when I flew to Hawaii. They gave us complimentary mai tais and I won 25,000 free miles. No free drinks on the way home though, guess they only care about having us drunk and happy when we land there.

  14. livvy30 October 26, 2011 at 1:19 pm #

    Get ready to clap if you ever fly to Ireland! We clap at the end of every flight. I love flying home and watching foreigners’ faces as we all clap. I think they all think we’re mad. One day a woman next to me asked me why people were clapping and I said it was because the flight was over and that Irish people always clap at the end of a flight. She replied with “but the pilot’s just doing his job”. Now I always clap extra loud at the end of every flight, no matter what airline I’m flying with. People like to be appreciated 🙂

  15. Personal Concerns October 26, 2011 at 1:27 pm #

    Coffee in plastic mugs versus coffee in reusable coffee mugs, a view of the grand canyon for passengers on both sides of the aisle and the woman asking you a variety of questions- such a ‘polyphonic flight’

    Your post is a reminder to the fact that everyday life is extremely rich with possibilities if one wants to make a note and write about things he or she meets every now and then!

    Worth a FP tag! Congratulations!

  16. Miss Demure Restraint October 26, 2011 at 1:34 pm #

    Hurray! A blog I read getting “Freshly Pressed.” Congratulations! You deserve it. Recognition well deserved.

    Your blog is awlays well written and funny. Now go do your happy dance!

  17. Oh God, My Wife Is German October 26, 2011 at 1:43 pm #

    Great flight post! Thank you for sharing! I will subscribe to your blog for sure, even though I STILL dread flying. Oh how I hate it.

  18. cradkilodney October 26, 2011 at 1:45 pm #

    Well-written article.

  19. etomczyk October 26, 2011 at 1:47 pm #

    Delightful post! I really liked the ending — it made the trip well worthwhile. I’ve copied your “aha” quote and put it on my work station: “We don’t always get applause, but we have it in our power to make the world a wee bit better than we found it.” I believe it and try to live it. Sometimes that just might be a smile or the woman who connects fallen soldiers’ belongings with their families. Congrats on being FP’D!
    http://www.howthehelldidienduphere.wordpress.com

  20. bereccah October 26, 2011 at 1:51 pm #

    Doesn’t a good flight/seat mate make you giddy? I feel like I’ve won some kind of contest when that happens! Great post btw. 🙂

  21. Jodi Stone October 26, 2011 at 1:55 pm #

    Comes at the perfect time, I am flying soon and terrified. I hope I get a pilot as great as yours!

    Congrats on being ‘pressed.’

  22. Dounia October 26, 2011 at 1:55 pm #

    Great post! Having been on quite a few flights, I always love when there’s someone of the crew that makes a flight stand out (in a good way, of course). I once had a pilot that was almost like a tour guide – everytime we flew over something interesting, be it a natural site or a historical city, he would tell us which side to look out and give us a little info about it. Had me smiling the whole way through! Thanks for sharing and congrats on being freshly pressed!

  23. Anne Schilde October 26, 2011 at 1:56 pm #

    Yay! I’m glad you pointed out the “the carbon emissions trailing the plane.” “Eco-friendly airline passenger” is a bit of oxymoron.

    Dicey landings… 🙂 I flew into Zagreb at the end of December once with the plane tipping left and right while the runway weaved in and out of view below the window. It seemed impossible that the plane would land safely, but the pilot dropped us down like he made those landings a hundred times a day. I joined in the unanimous applause.

    I loved your humor, especially the Jackson Pollack nails. Great post!

  24. Sarah D. October 26, 2011 at 2:00 pm #

    I used to have the same kind of fear of flying that you describe, although maybe a bit more so. I couldn’t look out the window and constantly listened for the sound of the engines so I could alert the crew and captain if they stopped working. It was sheer panic from take-off to landing. I knew it was nuts, but couldn’t get past it, and didn’t fly for years. When I started to fly again, somehow, I felt saner and started to enjoy the experience. Now I ask for a window seat and watch the world go by as much as I can. I figure, if the plane’s going to go, it’s going to go. There’s nothing I can do about it, and I don’t want to spend the last hours or minutes of my life in a witless panic, so I figure I may as well enjoy what I can. It’s worked beautifully.

    Love your post & the moral to the story!

  25. ChrisDownUnder October 26, 2011 at 2:08 pm #

    Isn’t it funny how the really small things can make (or break) your day or holiday. Some airline in Florida, I believe, made a two word acronym from Make Our Customers Happy And Have A Good Time Doing It. Mocha Hagtdi. Brilliant and it seems like the crew on your flight did exactly that.

  26. Tin Roof Press October 26, 2011 at 2:12 pm #

    wow. I’m so jealous!
    the most excitement I’ve ever had is when a tube driver pretended to be a pilot on the intercom and another time we were all evacuated because someone thought there was a world war 2 unexploded bomb on the line (false alarm, dang!)

  27. John J. Rigo, Texas' Poet October 26, 2011 at 2:17 pm #

    This is a great read. Congrads on “Freshly Pressed.” It is not often that I read such blogs from start to finish, but this posting was the true exception. Your sense of humor is great.

  28. travelingmad October 26, 2011 at 2:42 pm #

    Hahaha. What a funny post! I have found it strange that in the last 10 years people applaud after the plane lands. I always think, hey, we are Supposed to land safely!

    Congrats on being freshly pressed! Alaska is at the top of my travel to-do list! I want to go mushing 🙂

  29. ashleemae October 26, 2011 at 2:45 pm #

    You had the kind of flight I dream about… I generally end up squished against a window next to a person that’s requesting a seat belt extension.. “oh, and can I use your tray table? Mine won’t fold down all the way.”

    *sigh*

  30. Korry October 26, 2011 at 2:46 pm #

    The view of the Grand Canyon is incredibly spectacular to say the least! As a pilot for a major US airline, I know I try and give my passengers the best view possible of the Canyon when we fly over it on the way to Las Vegas, and I’m glad to hear the guys at Alaska Air did the same! Kudos to them!

  31. Jessica @ Shhh Mommy's Blogging October 26, 2011 at 3:00 pm #

    I love Alaska Airlines! If I can help it I always try to fly with them and have never had a bad flight (I’m jinxed now too aren’t I?). They often do really funny announcements and their employees seem to be genuinely having fun. You’re so lucky to have had a great pilot and an excellent view of the canyon!

  32. Gia October 26, 2011 at 3:01 pm #

    Bahaha, the end cracked me up. 🙂

    Hope you enjoy Alaska! xo

  33. viking84 October 26, 2011 at 3:16 pm #

    As someone who flies for work constantly, though never to cool places like, relatively speaking, L.A. (more like Wausau, WI), I loved this post. Great description of the ambient goings on around you; the row-mates, the inquisitive passenger, the pilots, etc. And what an awesome courtesy the pilot (and, evidently, air traffic control) extended to you guys…just make sure if you’re flying Alaska Air often, you inquire that their properly lubricating their jackscrews (and I mean that literally, no pun intended).

    TCS

  34. My Camera & I October 26, 2011 at 3:21 pm #

    What an entertaining read. Thank you for sharing 🙂

  35. Eva McCane October 26, 2011 at 3:27 pm #

    first of all, i love your blog! second, i can completely relate. i just returned from a trip to the east coast. my flights to nyc were horrendous. but my return flights were more than pleasant, which was a nice change of pace from the past several journeys i’ve been a part of. and it’s true…that one great pilot, that one friendly flight attendant…huge ripple effect. rather than 50 or so cranky people leaving that plane, there were probably at least 40 pretty happy folks. thanks for sharing!
    http://www.icouldntmakethisshitup.wordpress.com

  36. Earth Ocean Sky Redux October 26, 2011 at 3:54 pm #

    The heck with the moral of the story, I want to know why Alaska Air flies the DCA to LAX route?

    Ask me about my flight over Mount McKinley when the pilot of the six-seater plan tipped the wings and circled to see a sloth of polar bears. Long story short, no applause. My hands were busy holding the barf bags! 🙂

    Fun post and kudos on the FP thing.

  37. Tisha Clinkenbeard October 26, 2011 at 3:54 pm #

    You made me smile big!

  38. Angie Polizzi, Owner of Pink Beauty Basket October 26, 2011 at 4:19 pm #

    I enjoyed reading about your near-death experiences while flying. I used to be afraid of flying until one day I flew in a private jet and truly experienced turbulence, and since have enjoyed flying on a commercial jumbo jet – preferably the ones that have four jets on each wing!

  39. Samantha October 26, 2011 at 4:25 pm #

    This was hilariously well written. That pilot was definitely one of a kind to go out of his way to show you the Grand Canyon…and your seat mates sounded quite pleasant as well.

    Congrats on Freshly Pressed!

  40. Rick Gleason October 26, 2011 at 4:26 pm #

    Great post. In-fact I think I’ll “like” it.

    A little too political however (as if your readers would all agree) and not quite “pithy” enough, especially with one distracting and totally unrelated nail/candy photo, for a Pithypant.

    Oh well, I guess we can’t expect perfection can we?

    And oh yeah. I AM the blog police. 🙂

    • pithypants October 27, 2011 at 12:08 am #

      Far from perfect and happy to be arrested. But as a candy lover, please don’t make me give up my gratuitous photos of Willy Wonka candy – especially when airbrushed onto absurdly long fingernails. Please.

  41. natasiarose October 26, 2011 at 4:49 pm #

    I hate flying too. I’m always drenched with sweat at the end, even if the flight is completely smooth.

    Skipping coffee bc of a cup is really a commitment to going green. Bravo.

  42. Jan Simson October 26, 2011 at 5:09 pm #

    Fantastic post. I’m flying back to Europe in a few weeks. I’ve never started a clapping-session when a plane landed safely. It’s going to happen this time. Congrats on FP! Cheers.

    • pithypants October 26, 2011 at 11:41 pm #

      Do it. Record it. Share it. I think it would be awesome to start flash mobs of standing ovations – for people doing their jobs well. Should we?

  43. chancealberg October 26, 2011 at 5:59 pm #

    Wow! This is very odd but I work in South Korea teaching English to elementary school students and am in the process of writing an essay that basically reflects that exact sentiment. Passionate and committed employees are a crucial part of the success of any organization. Congrats on being freshly pressed!

    • pithypants October 26, 2011 at 11:41 pm #

      I think the real lesson is finding a purpose. You have to believe in what you do and approach it with fresh eyes. If you CAN’T do that – find another job! Kudos for teaching English as a second language — and learning other cultures to bring back and enrich us anglophiles!

  44. gtoftdahl October 26, 2011 at 6:08 pm #

    Loved your post – you are a very talented writer – a fun read. Thank you!

  45. Livia October 26, 2011 at 6:11 pm #

    Great post! When I fly without my husband I always tell him how I want my jewelry distributed and where I want to be buried.

    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed! I’m so jealous.

    Please consider reading my blog… and putting me on your blogroll.

    http://www.teachingisnotaparttimejob.wordpress.com

    • pithypants October 26, 2011 at 11:39 pm #

      Livia – that’s why you should wear ALL your jewelry when you fly. A) Enjoy it. B) It distributes itself in the event of a crash. Just thinking efficiently…

  46. Enosh October 26, 2011 at 6:32 pm #

    I’ve flown with Alaska Airlines on three trips to Seward’s folly and I can tell you they’re the best airline I’ve ever been on. Just wish they went to more places. And personally I love that state a great deal. It’s full of scenic beauty and unrivaled freedom. Of course it’s also home to more than its fair share of nuts…

    • pithypants October 26, 2011 at 11:38 pm #

      Glad my experience wasn’t an anomaly! And separately – I’m pretty glad Alaska is part of the US — even if that makes NO sense geographically. Thanks, Canada!

  47. ghanastar82 October 26, 2011 at 6:42 pm #

    Great blog! you capture the different scenarios that occur in such a compact space. Yes that walk of shame through 1st class into coach is always soo much fun…

    • pithypants October 26, 2011 at 11:36 pm #

      Walk of shame? I always look at everyone. Because I figure 50% of them are frequent flyer posers who didn’t pay to sit there and WANT me to think they’re famous. The people who can actually afford the seat? Generally trying to avoid eye contact.

    • ghanastar82 October 27, 2011 at 10:43 am #

      You have a point there!
      http://akuasing.wordpress.com

  48. Aileen Torres October 26, 2011 at 6:50 pm #

    Nice post. Well-written. Thanks for sharing!

  49. morristownmemos by Ronnie Hammer October 26, 2011 at 6:51 pm #

    We had a terrifying flight to Bermuda on our honeymoon. That was a bad experience, but gave me one of my favorite lines, “We had a bad experience on our honeymoon.” Most people assume I’m speaking of another type of bad experience!

    Ronnie

  50. leadinglight October 26, 2011 at 7:29 pm #

    I dig that Sarah Palin comment.

    • pithypants October 26, 2011 at 11:28 pm #

      You might be the only one. So thanks for the support! 😉

  51. letempspasse October 26, 2011 at 7:42 pm #

    Loved your post. I actually LOVE to fly. Would do it just for fun if I had the time (in the cockpit of course), but that’s beside the point. Your conclusion was hilarious…. I’m sure Alaskans get a bad rap just because of Sarah P. 😉

    • pithypants October 26, 2011 at 11:27 pm #

      Love to fly? Me too — before I understood my mortality and met a few drunk pilots (in Italy, to be fair!). Since then? Big wimp. Glad someone enjoys it!

  52. aefountain October 26, 2011 at 7:42 pm #

    Brilliant idea about the travel mug. More airlines should think of the eco-friendliness of byom. I too, enjoy the moral of the story. Even though I am a Canadian, one can never forget her comments about Canada.

    • pithypants October 26, 2011 at 11:26 pm #

      YAY! Love Canadians! Thanks for reading. And thanks for something else… born in Michigan, I never forget our neighbors to the north — how else would I have legally consumed alcohol before turning 21? Thank you, Windsor!

  53. ldsrr91 October 26, 2011 at 8:10 pm #

    A very nice read, you nailed it. Copped a subscription, I will be back.

    DS

  54. fr3lancer October 26, 2011 at 8:11 pm #

    haahaahaa 😀 the Sarah Palin line was a super funny bolt from the Blue :)))

    Well written article,put down in a superb way !

    – Saurav from India

    • pithypants October 26, 2011 at 11:22 pm #

      Thanks from reading, all the way in India! Question: can you see Alaska from your porch? Just trying to redefine my map and thought you might help.

  55. soulwideawake October 26, 2011 at 9:20 pm #

    I, like Ms Mary, love the moral of the story. I love, even more, that you wrote a great story about a positive flight. I want to fly again (haven’t for 15 years) and I always want to hear positive stories about flying. Thanks for sharing that you don’t like flying but you do it anyway. Your courage inspires me!

    • pithypants October 26, 2011 at 11:21 pm #

      The statistics are with us, Soulwideawake! Be brave! Besides — even if it ends poorly, anything that ends faster than a rectal exam can’t be all bad, right?

  56. Brandon October 26, 2011 at 9:31 pm #

    Your story was interesting, engaging, well written, humorous, enjoyable, and even a bit teachable.

    And then you ruined it with the last two sentences.

    Your entire story had nothing to do with politics in the least, nothing to do with Sarah Palin, or anything relating to Alaska other than the airline, yet you obviously felt it was important to take a final jab, simply because, what? She offended you at some point?

    Hey, it’s your blog, you can say what you want. You’re entitled to your opinions and your beliefs on the issues. But in my opinion, that kind of childishness completely discredits you.

    • pithypants October 26, 2011 at 11:19 pm #

      Fair(banks) enough! I appreciate the compliments, and will admit that the wrap-up was a cop-out… (Even if I do think Palin is batshit crazy and a disgrace to breasts everywhere.) I guess this is where I refer back to my tagline and try to lower the bar… what did you expect from someone with a 12 year old sense of humor, whose only goal is to make “corn” a dirty word? Aim lower, my friend, and there you shall find me. Thanks for reading!

      • Brandon October 27, 2011 at 9:44 am #

        Ha hah! Okay, so I didn’t read your tagline first, otherwise I guess I should have been prepared.

        I guess I just think most of the problems in our country have a lot to do with the disrespect that’s often shown to those we don’t agree with. I think we’re all better than that.

        Otherwise, good post and congrats on being freshly pressed.

    • popdialectic October 26, 2011 at 11:46 pm #

      Childish? You mean like reading a post over 1200 words about something entirely different, but fixating on a punchline of fewer than 20 words? Good job proving that Palin fans 1) are easily distracted, and 2) can’t take a joke.

      • Brandon October 27, 2011 at 9:51 am #

        Did I say I was a Palin fan? Don’t recall doing that. I just said that an unrelated punchline taking a jab at a political figure strikes me as immature and kinda sours the whole tone. Note, I complimented the author first, because there was lots of good stuff there. It’s called constructive criticism, and I felt it was worth giving. Whereas your reply is sarcastic, caustic, over-generalizing, and insulting to an entire group of people based on one person’s offhand comment, who may or may not even fit the demographic you’re insulting. And that is my constructive criticism to you.

  57. notquiteold October 26, 2011 at 9:39 pm #

    I think sometimes we are overwhelmed by emotion, and applause seems right somehow. i’m sure the Grand Canyon can do that. I once attended a funeral where we all applauded after the man’s grandson spoke. We just needed to.

  58. Jezzmindah October 26, 2011 at 9:49 pm #

    Great post! It’s so true what you wrote about enthusiasm for your job, it sparks a like response in the people your catering to. Totally the Apple Mac theory.

    • pithypants October 26, 2011 at 11:15 pm #

      Don’t get me wrong – some days suck, whatever you do for a living. BUT… sometimes you just need to step back and realize that you CAN make a difference, whatever you do. Wasn’t it Gandhi who said, “Be the change you want to see in the world?” Something like that. Even if that change is only 5 degrees – it can make a difference to someone.

  59. Pranab October 26, 2011 at 10:24 pm #

    The last line totally makes an awesome punchline! 🙂

    Thanks for the tremendous post, I am going to plagiarize this for my talks, if you don’t ming? 😛 And CONGRATULATIONS for getting freshly pressed. Keep a close watch on the stats tab, its about to hit the stratosphere!

    P.S.: You are SOOOOOO jinxed now!

    • pithypants October 26, 2011 at 11:13 pm #

      Steal away… I think stories make ALL training better, and I’ve found a way to weave this in ever since it happend. BTW – not everyone likes the punchline — apparently Palin fans read! Who knew?! 🙂

  60. Alpha Juliet October 26, 2011 at 10:47 pm #

    Did you know that 2 airliners (United and TWA) simulataneously banked their aircraft to give their passengers a view of the grand canyon while enroute and subsequently suffered a midair collision where everyone onboard both planes died? True Story! Ok, so that was back in the 50s, but still – diversion from the norm in the airline industry is generally unsafe, not exciting. (I’m a commercial pilot – used to fly private-corporate) Sorry to burst your happiness bubble here! Great post though!

    • pithypants October 26, 2011 at 11:11 pm #

      AJ – can we agree on a codeword that you’ll say at the beginning of every flight so that if I’m your passenger I know I’m safe? Maybe you could work “marmelade” into your spiel so I know it’s you? Seriously – I’d breathe easy knowing I don’t have Debbie Downer piloting the aircraft. I’m flexible – what’s the code word?

  61. rajeevshuklaiit October 26, 2011 at 11:23 pm #

    Yes the pilots do make a difference. I once flew into and over the Grand Canyon in a helicopter and I can still remember every word the pilot said as he pointed out all the places down there.

  62. thespectatorssport.wordpress.com/ October 26, 2011 at 11:24 pm #

    A really great post! Although I don’t get nervous on planes, I sometimes do wonder if everythings going alright. Alaska Airlines sounds like a good airline; I travel out of the country more than within it, but should I ever take a jaunt out West I’ll be sure to look into Alaska–after all, wifi is a Godsend to airline passengers, even if it isn’t free!

    P.S. Nice ending line 😛

  63. Request Free Coffee October 26, 2011 at 11:33 pm #

    If you ever fly Aer Lingus (Irish airline), the Irish passengers on board always applause when the plane touches down. It kinda throws you at first ’cause it’s quite unexpected.

    • pithypants October 26, 2011 at 11:46 pm #

      I HAVE! Connected from London to Dublin on Aer Lingus, but it was bumpy so I thought people were applauding the landing. Flew a lear jet from Dublin back to London and we didn’t clap. Maybe that’s why the pilot was crying?

  64. nasrulbintang October 26, 2011 at 11:45 pm #

    scenery is very nice indeed I am very interested to see it …..
    http://indonesianculture-nasrul.blogspot.com/2011/07/legong-keraton-dance-dances-of-bali.html

  65. Yor Ryeter October 26, 2011 at 11:46 pm #

    Fun post! 🙂 Loved it.

  66. topiclessbar October 27, 2011 at 12:12 am #

    The guys with the coffee mugs deserve applause for being cool. Most people, I think, would’ve lost it – “Cut the crap and pour some friggin coffee in the mug, stat!” (probably not in those words) It’s very hard NOT to be rude sometimes. I give them a standing O.

    • pithypants October 27, 2011 at 5:25 am #

      Agreed. It has to be exhausting to educate people every time you just want a bit of joe.

  67. travelrat October 27, 2011 at 12:57 am #

    Great post!

    The only time I’ve known airline passengers applaud was when, on a flight from Norway, the pilot went out of his way to show us the Aurora.

    (I’ve often wondered why someone doesn’t pass the hat around, and start a chorus of ‘For He’s a Jolly Good Driver’ like they do on some coach tours! :D)

    • pithypants October 27, 2011 at 5:24 am #

      For He’s A Jolly Good Driver? I love that!

  68. Jordansaker October 27, 2011 at 1:10 am #

    Nice post I love it.

    http://ambitiontofly.wordpress.com/aviation/

  69. underwhelmer October 27, 2011 at 1:27 am #

    Nice story. If you’re ever in Europe, don’t fly Ryanair unless you like a hefty dose of adventure. To them, applause means we’re on time and/or not dead. Now Lufthansa, on the other end of the spectrum, gives you free drinks AND awesome European food. Chianti and beef tips? Don’t mind if I do. 😛

    • pithypants October 27, 2011 at 5:23 am #

      Noted! My friend and I were having dinner in Florence, Italy at a table next to two Italian guys. We were all roughly the same age, so we ended up talking through the meal. We watched them pour back a few bottles of wine and finish the meal with a few rounds of lemoncello. They finally glanced at their watches and said, “We better leave – we have a flight in an hour.” Innocently, we asked where they were going because we were heading to Rome that day ourselves. Upon learning that, they said, “Skip the train – come with us! We’ll give you a lift.” Turns out they were commercial pilots. Needless to say, we took the train.

      • underwhelmer October 27, 2011 at 2:56 pm #

        Haha, only in Italy. You know, they probably did that before every single flight without any accidents somehow… just a different lifestyle over there. 🙂

  70. leonmacedon October 27, 2011 at 2:09 am #

    Lol….Sarah Palin tho. Why evils??

    • pithypants October 27, 2011 at 5:18 am #

      Sometimes you just have to grab the low hanging fruit.

  71. Michele La Morte-Shbat October 27, 2011 at 2:40 am #

    Awesome post! . . . Great way to start the day – with a smile and a chuckle! Congratulations on being “Freshly Pressed”!

    http://arabianmusings.wordpress.com/

  72. dimitiekendall October 27, 2011 at 3:05 am #

    Sounds just like me when it comes to flying. Nice to know I am not alone!

  73. mariano October 27, 2011 at 4:00 am #

    Nice post!
    (Just a typo, but: “We don’t want to use _a_ plastic cup.”)

    • pithypants October 27, 2011 at 5:13 am #

      Good catch! I just spotted that myself when I went to see which post FP had picked up! I’d go in and fix it, but every time a post gets edited, everyone who subscribes gets a notice emailed to them. Having been on the other side of that, I think I’ll leave the typo rather than clutter everyone’s inbox. (I generally post on the fly, so if I started fixing every typo, I could make a real mess of inboxes.) Thoughts? Am I over-thinking this one?

      • Mikalee Byerman October 27, 2011 at 5:44 am #

        Oooh. I didn’t know this. Now I’m grateful for Freshly Pressed for two reasons: posting your great blog AND your insightful comment about edits! 🙂

  74. Paul Thompson October 27, 2011 at 4:00 am #

    Well written piece, love the moral! It’s great when other people have the same passion about their work that we all (think we) do!

  75. cruisenomad October 27, 2011 at 5:33 am #

    Great story, fantastic writing, loved the scary bit about crashing, I have to fly about every six months for my work and its all long hauls, my mind goes through the what ifs, and even though I do fly so often and love to fly its almost always in economy. anyway great stuff keep it flowing.

    Kudos to you

  76. silence4you October 27, 2011 at 6:02 am #

    Wow – what a pilot – he shows real interest in his customers and shares his compassion. Love it!

  77. ©bruno October 27, 2011 at 6:22 am #

    Travelling coffee mugs, Jackson Pollock, Grand Canyon and Sarah Palin all in one. There is only one dislike 😉

    I’m not the biggest fan with the applauding when the plane has landed. Aren’t we supposed to land safely, I never give a cab driver an applause when he drops me off, … Never really understood why people do that. But maybe it is because, unlike you, I feel real comfortable flying. Even small propeller planes and bumpy flights don’t get me anxious. And so I’m not that relieved to burst in applauding when we touch the ground.
    Don’t get me wrong,if the pilot would give me a tour of the Grand Canyon, I would applaud for sure.

    Very nice blogpost.

  78. bandsmoke October 27, 2011 at 7:20 am #

    Oh very well written, you gave me such a good giggle 😀 As you say A+ for Alaska and then there’s Sarah Palin – fail !

  79. Anja@ www.pcprima.de October 27, 2011 at 7:21 am #

    Funny post. Liked the idea of bringing your own cup. Passengers on European charter flights always applaud after landing – Thanking for a save flight.

    Thanks for sharing!

  80. Tattoos, love and lunacy... October 27, 2011 at 7:43 am #

    Yay! You made it onto FP! I saw the headline and was like, “Wait a minute…I’ve read this one before!” 🙂

  81. tutordoctorofwny October 27, 2011 at 7:46 am #

    This is a great story with a wonderful message. Sometimes people forget that through their jobs, they can have a very real impact on the world and other people’s attitudes. Thank you for sharing!

  82. followingfunny October 27, 2011 at 8:09 am #

    Great story. Hopefully you will have a slighlty different view of flying from here on out. I am also in training and you’re right about the applause, we don’t always get it, even one aha moment is worth the time I spend with people. Pilots are probably some of the most underappreciated people behind thse bullet proof doors so for him to receive outward appreciation from the plane was awesome!

  83. Just a salesguy in the middle of Europe October 27, 2011 at 9:01 am #

    I thought it was going to be just a rant on air travel (which I love_hail Mintzberg_) but I loved the moral of the story and I think it’s a great illustration. As someone who occasionally is called to work on sales and customer issues, I liked this a lot. Thank you, If you listen carefully, you’ll hear my hands clapping.

  84. abichica October 27, 2011 at 9:41 am #

    Love the story, taught all of us something… Thanks for sharing.. 🙂

  85. cassiebehle October 27, 2011 at 9:57 am #

    Congrats on the FP! 🙂

  86. Liz Benitez October 27, 2011 at 10:04 am #

    Great story. Was very fun to read. Grats on FP.

  87. jennifernon October 27, 2011 at 10:17 am #

    Great post! This lightened my mood a bit after a long day at work (and after two recent hellish airline experiences this past weekend). Especially loved your 3rd from last paragraph (though I did enjoy your flight commentary), because that’s exactly how I feel as well! And the Sarah Palin comment was hilarious. Cheers. 🙂

  88. Vexen October 27, 2011 at 10:26 am #

    Congrats on the FP. I was also expecting this to be a rant but it defied my expectations. Loved the story about the pilot and the Grand Canyon although I personally would have been too jaded and scared of of flying to applaud.

  89. nydeuces October 27, 2011 at 10:41 am #

    I hate flying as well. For some odd reason though, this post makes me want to get on a plane right now, and bring my own mug!

  90. newsy1 October 27, 2011 at 11:08 am #

    I rarely say I love an airlines but I’ve been on Alaska and they seem far better than most. I thought your punchy conclusion was perfect for your great post.

  91. jlsalinger October 27, 2011 at 11:47 am #

    Great post! I’m not a fan of flying either but it’s the little things that make a stressful situation more tolerable.

  92. Kimberly Pugliano October 27, 2011 at 12:19 pm #

    I just want you to know that I read this BEFORE it was Freshly Pressed so I’m not a bandwagonner. I read it from my phone though, and I always have trouble commented but I DID laugh out loud.

    The end.

    • pithypants October 27, 2011 at 12:50 pm #

      Ha! You’re the ORIGINAL gangsta! Thanks for reading me, back when I had five followers. 😉

  93. wellbeinglifecoach October 27, 2011 at 12:35 pm #

    I was laughing through most of it. My husband hates to fly so I could so relate to you. Loved the companions on the flight with the mugs and you with the plastic and aluminum! Just great!

  94. dribblingpensioner October 27, 2011 at 1:32 pm #

    Congrats on this post, i have never seen one with so many likes and comments before, well done, Harry

  95. classicconfusion October 27, 2011 at 3:32 pm #

    Very well written!
    I remember flying to Vancouver a few times as a kid on Greyhound (they were an airline as well at one point) and they had little in-flight games. One was “match the flight attendant with her vehicle” (accompanied by a list of cars) and whoever got the most right won a prize. Kind of silly, but it kept all the adults entertained on the 5 hour flight!

  96. Stephen Robinson October 27, 2011 at 3:40 pm #

    Really best not to remember Sarah Palin.

  97. nmjkemppainen October 28, 2011 at 2:48 am #

    As cheesy as it may sound, I was actually touched by this post. I worked at the Helsinki airport in Finland for some time and I’ve also traveled with quite a few airlines. I love flying, but rude customer service can blast even my enthusiasm of flying. I wish that other carriers, too, would bear in mind, how important it is to maintain a good level of customer service on board – and on the ground, for that matter! I’ve already shared this post with my former colleagues at the airport, just as a reminder of the meaning of good service. Thank you! 🙂

    • pithypants October 28, 2011 at 6:37 am #

      Aww! Thanks for letting me know. And thanks for keeping the dialogue going when it comes to customer service.

  98. trishgruenwald October 29, 2011 at 10:14 am #

    It is so wonderful you are Freshly Pressed! Your blog is fabulous and has provided me with inspiration for my blog. Looking forward to reading more and thank you for sharing little pieces of your life.

  99. humphreyt October 30, 2011 at 7:44 pm #

    Thanks! I enjoyed reading this. I lived in Alaska for awhile, though I don’t remember if there was free Wi-fi available on our Alaska Airlines flights. The smaller inter-Alaska flights were interesting. Have you been on those? Flying in and out of AK can provide some great views, too!

  100. eyeamtheggman October 30, 2011 at 9:46 pm #

    Just goes to show how good company can make even the most daunting experience pleasant. I really loved your writing, I have only just started blogging but i am trying to replicate the immersive way you write. Keep it up 😀

  101. stellycious stella October 31, 2011 at 5:52 am #

    I follow your flight story. So entertaining. Thank you for sharing. 🙂

  102. gaycarboys November 1, 2011 at 6:17 am #

    I get on board, do the crossword before taking off then settle in to my ipad for a movie or my favourite TV show. Perhaps I’ll even play a game. Since there is no usb charger in economy tet I’m stuffed if I do a flight longer than 10 hours, but I can always resort to my iphone or laptop! A boy is always prepared.

    • pithypants November 1, 2011 at 10:40 am #

      I was ready to cry when I realized I left my iPad at home. It may seem silly, but…

  103. The Understander November 3, 2011 at 12:57 pm #

    Kind of ironic that the guy wouldn’t take a plastic coffee cup for environmental reasons, and yet, will fly across the country in a plane. Fun post, though!

  104. Katrina December 30, 2011 at 8:18 am #

    I love this part: “that passion for your job can have a ripple effect. We don’t always get applause, but we have it in our power to make the world a wee bit better than we found it.”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Buzz Words « Trains & Sunsets: An Adult in Transition - October 26, 2011

    […] slightest, but its moral has everything to do with jobs and passion. Via Pithypants, the article “When applause means more than, ‘You didn’t kill us!’” is simply a wonderful read about a job done […]

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