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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

You Are Now Free to Move About the Cabin

It seems the cat at the front of the plane has not been consulted regarding its impending departure.

"Noooooooooo," it wails. "Noooooooo."

Five rows behind the cat, I send it mental condolences, then concentrate, alertly, on the pre-flight instructions given by the steward. Where are the exits? Will I be able to smoke in the lavatories? What if I'm unwilling or unable to perform my duties as exit row president? Having grown up in a series of small engine airplanes, it was impressed upon me by my father that one must remain alert in an airplane.

"Be alert, Pearl," he'd yell over the roar of the prop engines. "The world needs more lerts."

And so I focus, concentrate my alertness.

A recording of the safety instructions starts up over the public address system.

One of the stewards, a thin black man with a hairline that starts well behind his ears, stands near the front of the plane. His hands sway in a mixture of semaphoric and interpretive movements. The movements don't seem to have anything to do with what he is saying, actually, but there's a certain beauty to them.

He's been practicing this in the mirror.

Ninety-eight percent of the plane's passengers continue their conversations.

The recording shares instructional information regarding the use of the seat belt. The steward produces an instructional seat belt, apparently liberated from a 70s model Chrysler, and earnestly demonstrates how to buckle and unbuckle it.

Unfortunately, I appear to be the only one amused by this bit of theater.

The recording reminds us that it is a requirement that passengers comply with lighted signs, posted placards, and crew members instructions. It also has things to say regarding the location and use of the emergency exits, evacuation slides and emergency floor lighting.

The interpretive dance portion of our flight finishes with my favorite bit: the use of passenger seat cushions as flotation devices.

Six hours and two annoying seatmates later, I arrive in Florida. It's been a couple days now: sunshine, intense work on my new book, a chance to let T buy me drinks and show me his town.

Come back tomorrow, and I'll tell you about what they're keeping in the ocean nowadays.

37 comments:

Leslie said...

No falling down the steps...I have a feeling T might witness against you.

the walking man said...

Uh water is kept in the ocean. I'd be more interested in hearing what fluids Pearl is keeping in her.

Rene/ Not The Rockefellers said...

Is there any way to ship some of that sunshine home? Y'know, for future winter use?

Please enjoy Florida responsibly.
I saw that on a brochure and it just seemed funny.
Don't drive while under the influence of Florida, Driving while Floridian, One Floridian Over The Line...

Oh I'll just stop now.
I hate talking about Florida alone, before noon.

Steadfast Ahoy! said...

Vacation! Have a blast and watch out for the ocean things that hide in the shallows.
Rosemary

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

You left the Bitey queen unattended? You could find yourself locked out when you get home. Who knows what stories she is telling about you behind your back. What are you thinking? Get home quickly before it's too late.

Audubon Ron said...

HARRIET! PACK DA BAGS! WE'RE GOIN' TO FLAAR-RA-DA!!! Pearl's there.

Pat said...

I'm basking in your unaccustomed unalertness. Enjoy.

Leenie said...

You went to Florida in August??? What are you thinking? Florida--JANUARY. MINNESOTA--August.

I like flying Boise-Pocatello. The flight attendants have a comedy routine for the pre-flight that's hilarious.

Daisy said...

I dread thinking about what is happening back home with Ms Dolly Gee Squeakers and Ms Lisa Bean Bitey in charge.

Enjoy Florida!

Dawn @Lighten Up! said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan in the Boonies said...

My favorite pre-flight performances come from the fine flight attendants working for Southwest Airlines.

They never fail to amuse.

Douglas said...

Having traveled on various airlines countless times, I have witnessed that interpretive dance many, many times. I got to the point where I mostly tuned it out. After all, there is a placard showing the seating and the location of the emergency exits in that pouch in front of your seat and the instructions you heard are also on that card so why listen or watch the bored flight attendants go through their motions?

My usual first moments as the plane taxis toward our assigned runway for takeoff are taken up in trying to ignore that feeling of impending doom in a fireball of metal, seats, and body parts. Followed by the hope that I can sleep (a rare occurrence) and that I won't be awakened prematurely by the screams of my fellow passengers.

Eva Gallant said...

Enjoy your vacation, Pearl; but it is a strange time to visit Florida!

Dawn @Lighten Up! said...

I'd like to see the actual statistics on the number of people who are A: conscious enough or B: in one piece enough to use the seat cushion as a flotation device.
New book from Pearl? *jumpy* *clappy*

Tom G. said...

I had no idea that in some cases the nearest exit may be behind you.

Learn somethin' new every day.

Camille said...

Leenie said it first but it bears repeating...whattaya nuts? And you've arrived just in time for the lovely hurricane that's bearing down on the Sunshine state. Drink lots of cold beverages, stay hydrated and keep a fresh lipstick in your purse...no need to look shabby while stuck in bumper to bumper traffic along the evacuation route I always say.

Charlotte Ann said...

two words: Hurricane Season..

Sarah said...

Florida in August can't be much different than Minnesota in August, temp/humidity wise, so I say I go for it and enjoy your vacay!

A free place to stay is the best part about having friends live afar. You may miss them, but you sure feel grateful they live somewhere nice & warm like Florida.

aBroad said...

I heard hints about what is in the ocean, don't tell me .. let me be blissfully ignorant.

Last plane ride I took, the flight attendant stood there without speaking, while videos told us what to do with the seat belts etc and she just mimed. It was funnier than well, funny. I could have been hilarious if the Pup had not been locked up in cargo .. bless his heart.

Wow, that was awkward said...

If you run into my parents, be ready to talk gas prices, eat dinner at 5p, complain about nearly everything, go to six grocery stores in order to get the best deals and for heaven's sake don't do the crossword or my dad will have absolutely nothing to do!

Belle said...

Hope you are having a wonderful time! I remember traveling to Florida from BC and by the time I got there I was ignoring the stewards instructions too. I remember looking at that emergency exit door and just knowing I couldn't move that huge handle. :)

jenny_o said...

Did the kitty finally quiet down? Our fella cries like that in the car, no matter how short the trip, and only gets quiet just before being carsick :)

You wanted to know that, right? No? Sorry ...

Have a great vacation!

Glen said...

ah Florida - the home of the excessivly large plates. fantastic

Ross said...

Have a great time! Looking forward to your next post!

Gigi said...

I know why you are in Florida right now.....you heard about the awesome Hurricane Parties, didn't you??? 'Fess up!

Of course, those parties are only qualified as "awesome" if the impending hurricane actually turns and misses you. Otherwise, it would be termed as a "disaster of epic proportions."

IndigoWrath said...

Hey Pearl! The bit that always tickles me is that the floatation device has a tube to blow therm back up. I'd much rather have one that doesn't leak. Indigo x

That gentleman's lady said...

i loathe those recordings.... i think the stewards might loathe the performances with the masks just a wee bit more....

Kara said...

Hey Pearl! I just noticed your number of Google followers is at 999! I think that next follower might be grounds for a few more celebratory drinks. Enjoy your vacation!

Sioux said...

Too many old people in Florida for me...However, soon I will be one of THEM.

999 followers? You follower-hogger, you! (It is well-deserved!)

darlin said...

Wooohoooo, I'm your 1000th follower! lol Thanks for dropping by my blog, I'll be back to keep reading when time permits. :-)

Enjoy your evening!

Bodacious Boomer said...

I assuming that you either had non-refundable tickles or hotel reservations to head to sunny FL with a storm so close.

Either that or you just really like storms...

Well whatever the reason, stay safe young one.

HermanTurnip said...

"Emergency water landing, 600 miles per hour. Blank faces -- calm as Hindu cows."

Crystal Pistol said...

New book? I'm wondering what it's about. Have fun in Florida.

Are there nude beaches there?

I hear writing a new book on a beach full of nude-y folks is inspiring.

Brian said...

Happy vacation! I don't think I'd like that flying much!

Timothy Bowen said...

:) Can't wait to find out what they keep in the ocean these days.

Hoody Hoo said...

I feel bad for the stewards (shit, is that what we call them now... FLIGHT ATTENDANTS!) now that they have the recording. Poor schmucks don't even get to TALK anymore, they just have to stand up there like a very bad mime.

Elizabeth Rose Stanton said...

Hope you dodge Irene. Expect turbulence--best to fasten seat belts.
PS Love this piece. :)