It all started with the belligerent man who would not hang up his cell phone. This was a guy probably in his early thirties; certainly old enough to know how to behave properly. All passengers had been seated, the cabin doors, closed and the flight attendants were conducting pre-flight checks preparing the cabin for departure. The usual series of announcements had been made, including the “Ladies and gentleman the cabin door has now been closed, please put away all electronic devices, cell phones, computers, laptops, blackberries, anything with an on/off switch”. Actually this was the second such announcement, and third if you count the one just before the doors closed stating that it was time to begin shutting down, ending calls, etc. Now for me, when I hear those initial announcements, that’s usually my indication it is nearing take off time. Considering the fact that I chose to be on this flight to get somewhere, I also want to get to my destination on time. So anything that keeps the flight on schedule is good. As far as the concept of not using cell phones or electronic stuff at take-off and landing, I’ve heard it may not actually interfere with airplane communications, but the way I figure it is I’m really not an expert, and besides it’s the airline/FAA rules so who am I to argue? And further, if it helps prevent pilot error or other equipment problems that seems like a good enough reason for me to follow orders, so I have no problem turning it all off. Apparently not for the fellow passenger who is the subject of this first story. There he sat in front of me, jabbering away on his cell phone ABOUT NOTHING. Believe me I know, as I was eavesdropping on the entire conversation- well he was speaking loudly, well that plus the volume on the earpiece was so loud I could hear the person on the other end of the call. A flight attendant walked by and saw him still on the phone and she asked him if he was ending the call, to which he just nodded but continued talking. She walked away and returned a minute later but this time said to him: “You’ll need to say good bye now on that call” and walked away a second time. A full minute later she returned to find him still talking- she stopped and firmly said to him: “Sir, Two words, Good- Bye”. Apparently he must have owned the airline or be king of the Universe because he ignored her and waved her off dismissively. She started walking away but I saw her stop dead in her tracks, as if she processed what he had gestured to her, and decided to herself she was not going to take that from him. She returned to confront him- and he was STILL ON THE PHONE. He looked up and mumbled something to the flight attendant, to which she replied: “Excuse me, sir?” He replied, “You know what I said”. I was thrilled, this was quite titillating, suddenly I wasn’t feeling sleepy anymore. The flight attendant was revving the volume of her voice, yet was still professional and explained that as a passenger of this flight he was required to observe all crew direction and announcements, and if he refused to do so would be removed from the flight. The man was was belligerent and nasty to her, and they continued to exchange remarks. Finally another flight attendant came to the scene, and then a co-pilot. And then finally I heard the cabin door re-open and on walked an air marshal. And with that, the man was ejected from the flight. It was quite swift. I was thrilled. What a fool, all because of some precious phone call that he would not end. This did delay departure a bit to complete some paperwork, but only a few minutes, so I thought it was well worth the wait.
Once the flight was in air and reached cruising altitude, in-flight service began. I had taken a little nap and hadn’t really paid much attention to the attendant who was now working the section where I was seated (this was a different person from the earlier story). She seemed sweet enough and was doting on the passengers darting about from row to row. I noticed her movements seemed a bit jerky, which is what first caught my attention. Before I go any further with this story, I feel compelled to state that I am not criticizing, or making fun of this person in any way. The attendant was rather tall, slender, lots of make-up and had a big poof of dirty blondish hair. She had an awkward smile, and a nervous habit of running her fingers through the puff of hair parted over her forehead. I studied her for awhile, from afar. There was something quite unusual but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was about her. When she began serving drinks, it appeared as if she was fumbling a bit, darted her eyes back and forth between the passenger and the glasses with which she was working. Things were flying in every direction- lime wedges slipping from her fingers, napkins bursting open from the plastic package and fluttering outward like butterflies. She was jittery for sure. But that wasn’t it, there was something else but soon I was pulled into my music playing and distracted yet again. When it was time for the meal service she returned with her little trolley. I took one look and it hit me. She looked like Dorothy Michaels. In case the name Dorothy Michaels doesn’t ring a bell, it was the name of the character Dustin Hoffman played in the film “Tootsie”. I was fascinated. I immediately corrected myself, thinking, no, it can’t be. I must be imagining things. Maybe it was just a hormonal imbalance. That seemed plausible. At all times I maintained absolute discretion, but I felt compelled to look closer. Now on inspection, it was as if everything pointed in that direction. My mind shifted what I was seeing and convinced me that I was right. Now It does not matter to me either way- I always say live and let live. It may not be my cup of tea, but far be it for me to judge, comment or draw attention to the situation. But it struck me how good she did look and I don't think anyone else had noticed anything different about her. What drew attention my to her was her exaggerated movements, seemingly designed to be extra convincing that she was a woman, almost a motherly figure. I began looking up and down the aisle at the other attendants, to observe their movement and manner. perhaps I was just imagining things. Nope, nothing unusual there. Ours was different. She must have been nervous about something, I began to wonder, was this perhaps a first day “out” working again after the change? Or had someone been unnecessarily cruel earlier that upset her? There was no way to know, of course. Then something else caught my eye- her legs. I leaned down to get my computer bag while she was standing behind me. Her stocking covered legs were long and smooth, okay seems normal. But then I saw it. A distinct patch of leg hair, and not just a little stubble, they were full curly hairs. It looked as if these legs recently had full grown leg hair on them and were recently shaved smooth- all but one little patch that was missed. Ah-ha. I felt like Sherlock Holmes, cracking the case of the Flight Attendant in Question. Once I had solved the mystery I smiled to myself, having satisfied my own curiosity. I settled back into my chair, closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep, humming "Maybe It's You" by Stephen Bishop to myself. It was indeed worthy of a Travel Tales episode.