Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Professional Ethics... An Onboard Problem

A workplace conundrum: as an employee of a super-large company very protective of its image, we cabin crew-ers have to be fairly conservative in the things we say to passengers. Sure, it's fun to joke about what we imagine saying to some ("would you expect guests in your home to leave it looking like that" ... "chicken is not an effing vegetable" ... "do YOURself a favour and get you some manners" etc etc), but when it comes down to it, we grit our teeth and tacitly comply, meek little individuals that we are. Cough. Today, however, I was faced with a REAL professional vs ethical dilemma: if a male passenger walks out of the loo with his fly undone, is it professional or rude to tell him / not tell him? A fellow crew likened it to having food stuck in your teeth - now that I would have mentioned with 100% confidence I was doing the right thing. But the creepy feeling that this guy would disembark thinking I'd been checking out his package was too much for me. I held my tongue and said nothing, regretfully feeling as though I had done this particular stranger a huge disservice. Professional or rude? I still can't decide.
Other than this less-than-satisfactory moment on the return flight, Paris was wonderful. As always. It's a city that never fails to disappoint. The weather was perfect, mid-30's with a beautiful sunny sky and puffy little Care Bear clouds. I rounded up a few of the other girls from the crew and we bared our shoulders without a care in the world and headed in to check out Montmartre. I've wanted to go to the Sacre Coeur (yes I just had to Google the spelling of that) every time I've been in Paris but hadn't got there before this, so I was really excited to see it on such a perfect day. It's right on top of a hill, with the most amazing view out over all of Paris. And, being an Australian and slightly ignorant (don't get offended all you peeps at home cos its true, we are) I didn't know enough Francais to know that 'sacre coeur' (thank you Google) means 'sacred heart': also the name of my old high school back home. Aww!!  Oh and yes it's a church. But a very very cool church, if you believe in such a thing.



There is a tram you can take up the hill, which I might do when I am 100 years old. Feeling brave and exercise-ready, however, we trundled up the stairs instead. Wow there's a lot of them. Past the guys selling dodgy handbags, and using the extent of my Francais to politely decline cheap Eiffel Tower statues (not because I don't want one, but because they are even cheaper at the Tower itself and I'm a stinge). For future Parisian travellers, 'no' in French = 'ne', pronounced sort of like 'no'. I know. I am so cultured. Anyway about two thirds of the way up is a fountain, where we sat in the only available seat to eat our delicious baguettes - tomato and brie for me, delicious! - and discovered that the reason it was the only seat available was cause it stank like pee and there was a group of serious wierdos verbally harassing us while we tried to enjoy our lunch. At least I assume they were harassing us but I couldn't understand them. But yes, the theories are right, tone and body language do count for a large percentage of comprehension. So we moved on quickly. Suffice to say that the view, the church itself, and the surrounding area were enough to wipe the disturbing memory of that 30 seconds of smelly discomfort. Montmartre is fabulous. Lots of amazing places to eat amazing food, of course a high priority, and also lots of artistes selling sketches, paintings, drawing portraits and stuff. The streets are narrow and cobblestoned, and it just made me feel like I was in an old movie or something. I wanted to buy a bunch of paintings for my lounge room wall but with the attempt at saving I've committed myself to for the next few months, had to settle for a 20 cent postcard for my collection instead. One day, my lounge room will have art in it. Hopefully while I still live there.

Further exciting news to come with me out of Paris; I spoke to three very important people while there who have all given me something to look forward to. The Boyfriend is coming to visit me, hopefully within the next month, but this will depend on his ability to make a decision so I'll believe it when I see the boarding pass. The Father is planning a UK frolick later in the year, via Dubai of course, and The Sister is coming over in December to keep me company on 10 days leave, split between Dubai and more Parisian adventures. Eurodisney here we come!! Plus in one month some of my very best girlfriends in the world will be landing in London, and my life's mission is to get there and spend some time catching up on 7 months worth of gossip, laughs and maybe one or two 'quiet ones' as they call them back home.
Like I said, my life is amazing.  Bring on tomorrow!!

Yes I do.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Welcome to the World of Me!

Welcome to my amateur and technically-challenged attempt at writing a blog!! I have minimal experience with both reading and writing them, so I hope that this turns out to be not too boring for those few of you who might read it.
Why write one then, you might ask? Because I completely SUCK at keeping in touch with people, it seems. I've been living in the Middle East for 7 months now, and on a scale of good to bad, my contact with home has been beyond the crappy end of things. I swear, if it wasn't for facebook, half the people I've ever known would have forgotten I exist, over here in this desert land! So, here is a blog. Where I can plop down all of my adventures, experiences and stories, and the people who have been wondering what I am up to will know. It might even give some of you inspiration for your own travel plans. Plus, this way I won't feel so guilty about neglecting the emails.
So to catch you up to date on the last 7 months:
- I'm living in the sticks of Dubai. It's actually more like Pakistan than Dubai, if you ask me. I had an amazing roommate and friend here with me which made it bearable, but she has just buggered off back home to Canada to get married and left me here. Some people are so selfish!! So I should be getting a new roommate fairly soon...could be interesting but of course I will have to keep you posted on that. I have great friends here in Dubai who will be popping up and rating special mentions throughout my tales, seeing as we seem to have enough adventures of our own without leading the lives that we do.
- I'm working as Cabin Crew for one of the biggest airlines in the world. They have nothing to do with this blog except for the fact that the things I discuss in my blog will occasionally occur onboard their planes. The views, opinions and feelings discussed are completely my own and not endorsed or supported by the company. Alongside this happy disclaimer, I will add that this has to be the craziest job in the world. I love to travel, and to see the world, and meet new people, and that is why I came here. My overwhelming positivity was somewhat dampened when I discovered that negative aspects to the job exist as well - fatigue, diet problems, image and, of course, the major disappointment of my onboard existence: passengers.
- I am probably being unfair to class all passengers as evil because not all of them are that bad. In fact, many of them are very nice, some I would even call pleasant. But those 'special' eggs, the ones that really make your blood boil, or who have no manners / hygiene / consideration, they are the ones that you remember. And, for some reason, the ones I seem to encounter more often than anyone else I speak to! Honestly, other crew are astounded at some of the things I have dealt with in such a short period of time - medical emergencies, attitude problems, complaints, drunks, grown men wetting themselves and of course... lots and lots of regurgitation.
- The experience is worth it. The places I get to see (so far London, Paris, Sydney, Auckland, Seoul, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Beijing, Hamburg, Manchester), and the fact that I am PAID TO TRAVEL makes me appreciate how lucky I really am. Which is what I keep telling myself every time I am elbow-deep in vomit. I've toured the Tower of London, climbed the Great Wall of China, eaten Korean barbeque in Korea, sat under the Eiffel Tower with only a chocolate and banana crepe and my camera for company, played with tiger cubs in Thailand and sank pints on a German footpath. For these kinds of experiences and many, many more, all at the company's expense - not my own - I think that a little bit of vom is a small price to pay. This will not stop me from complaining about it in future blogs, though, so toughen up those gag reflexes. God knows I've had to.
For now, this will do as a start. I am heading back to Paris tomorrow, so should have something interesting to write about. Even if it is only bread, cheese and red wine, it will be the most delicious bread, cheese and red wine ever written about because it will be from PARIS!!! (Yes, I still get excited even though I have to be up at 4am with a full face of make up and a big red-lipstick covered smile. It's Paris!!)