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The School of Flaunt

Back when "Flying Was Fun" Alexandra Smythe and Cate Clarke were Flight Attendants with a Major International Carrier. Prior to Private Jets coming into vogue, Alexandra and Cate traveled in the First Class World, meeting and greeting the top celebrities, politicians who would become Presidents, nouveau riche, and yes the occasional Headline Grabbing Criminal in Handcuffs!

What the two ladies viewed and experienced became fodder for the School of Flaunt, so much money, such bad taste and oh those terrible manners. Something had to be done! Hence, The School of Flaunt Handbook was born. Read More

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Pan Am Flashback Or Relying on the Kindness of Strangers

Category: SOF Divas’ Diaries ®  |  Permalink

Published: Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pan Am Flash Back


Relying on the Kindness of Strangers!

I had just started flying and the world was my oyster. So many things to see and so many places to go. But before I begin let me give you some background.

My roommate during training was a red head from New Orleans. She was a sophisticated woman and a little older than the rest of us. As she said during training, "I could have worked for Delta Airlines but who wants to see Atlanta or Cincinnati, when you can see Paris or Rome."

So fresh out of training the two of decided to share an apartment. We chose one close to the airport and relatively cheap since there were only two of us. Most of the new hires would have six women in a two bedroom apartment. Frankly that didn't sound very appealing!

Now this apartment building was primarily filled with "stews" (flight attendants), pilots and a few mechanics. Everyone seemed to know one another and we had become friends with one of the single pilots there. He for whatever reason had nicknamed me Sam and her Red.

He was the big brother that I never had. Watched out for us, told us his opinions about who we dated, helped us buy our first cars and taught me to like Gin on the rocks with a twist of lemon. He was a good "big brother."

Well, Red and I had been flying about six months and decided that we would go to Acapulco. Red made all of hotel reservations and figured out how to fly down there on another carrier who was offering airline employees cheap rates. One of the perks of working for an airline.

Off we go for five days of fun in Acapulco. It was five days for me; Red had seven days off and told me she was going to stay for those extra two days. Oh, it was great! The bars don't really start getting people in them until 10 PM and then the partying starts. You can literally dance all night if you want. Great beaches and water skiing during the day. People selling cheap jewelry on the beaches that you just can't say no to! Only thing you had to remember was don't drink the water!

Well, it comes to my fifth day and I'm off to Acapulco heading over to México City to go back home to the states. All is well until I arrive in Mexico City! The airport is jammed with people and I go to the ticket counter to check in with my reduced rate ticket which was also "stand by ticket."

I'm informed by the ticket agent that the flight I thought I could get out on was oversold and he would put me on the stand by list. This is not looking good! Well, I stand by for 2 more flights! Have to admit now that I'm beginning to get a little panicky. You see I had to fly the next day and frankly the airline doesn't care about any of your problems! When I say they don't care, I mean they don't care. You are supposed to show up for your flight and the only excuse for missing one is that you are calling in DEAD! Or at least sick!

Understand that I'm still on what they called probation and anything close to not showing up for a flight is not going to look good on my record period! My airline career was in jeopardy now!

When the same check in agent tells me I probably won't be getting out that day I was ready to commit suicide! Well, maybe not suicide but trust me I was thinking this is going to be a big problem! I asked him what a full fair ticket cost and he told me that there were seats available if I wanted to pay for a full fare ticket. YES! I will!

I pull out my checkbook and my driver's license. He says, "I can't take a check on an American account." "What! But I only have my checkbook with me." I feel like I'm having an out of body experience now! He says, "No credit card?" I shake my head no. In fact at this point I only had a few pesos left!

Here was my problem, I had forgotten to bring my credit card but thought no big deal I have plenty of cash on me and Red had said, "Not to worry, I'll pay for the room and we can put things like meals on my card and you can pay me back when we get home."

But I digress, the agent is looking at me now as if what am I going to do with this girl! The next thing I remember him saying is, "O.K., my very good friend is the bank manager at a bank right outside the airport. I'll take you over there and hopefully he will cash your check and you can pay for your ticket in cash." So off we go in his car!

We arrive at the bank and the next thing I know I'm sitting across from a stern looking man who says, "I understand that you only have a check and cannot pay cash for your ticket." I'm nodding my head now and trying not to cry for at this point I'm thinking I'm going to lose my job and also be spending the night in this airport! And I don't even have enough money to pay for a meal!

The bank manager looks at me and says, "Do you swear to me that you have $200 in your account?" I told him, "I swear to that and look at my check book. See the checks I have written and what I have left. There is more than $200 in this checking account."

He says, "Let me see your passport." The he tells me to write out the check for cash, he writes down my passport number and tells me that I better be telling him the truth and then hands me $200 in Mexican currency!

I wanted to kiss him but knew that would be inappropriate! OMG! Just let me get home and I will never leave my credit card behind ever again!

But that sweet agent really took me under his wing when we returned to the airport. He gave me a voucher to go to the best restaurant in the airport to get something to eat and also gave me my boarding pass so I didn't need to stand in another line. Sometimes we have to rely on the kindness of strangers.

So where does my big brother (pilot) come into this. When I finally got home I ran into him in the court yard of the apartment building. I told him what I had been through and how I had to fly the next day. He took out a $100 bill from his wallet and handed it to me. "Sam, this is you back up money. I want you to put it in your wallet and it stays there all of the time for emergencies. Do you understand me? When you get back from you next trip and get paid then give me the $100 bill back. But make sure that you put a $100 bill in your wallet to replace it.

He then says, "What about Red? Where is she?"

I replied, "She is still in Acapulco and doesn't know about any of this."

"Well, give me the name of the hotel where she is staying. I'll call her to make sure she has money or enough credit on her card to buy a ticket to get out of Mexico. He's shaking his head now and saying, "Why do I see me wiring her money?" And he had to the next day!

Everyone needs a good big brother and sometimes the kindness of strangers!


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