"Everyone here has had service experience, right?" asked our in-flight service trainer Roxanne on the B737 400.
It occurred to me she didn't mean serving people a wedding album, or a folder of images.
"I haven't," I piped up from the back, expecting to have a few other voices joining me. Nope. I'm the only one. Awesome.
Roxanne gave me some special attention and gently went over with me the finer details of serving drinks. Then I was "volunteered" to provide service to our group.
I was surprised by my nervous thumping heart as I pushed the trolley up the aisle with Angelica. It was like my body was aware I should be nervous while my head wasn't. It can't be that hard right?
Either it's hard or I'm a complete idiot. I'm giving it even odds.
Lets see, I didn't offer a napkin first, I plunked down Roxanne's can of Clamato juice without a glass or ice or an offer of lemon or tabasco, I gave Michael a stir stick in his straight Coke for no apparent reason, I took ten minutes to get three pieces of ice out with the tongs and I held a glass too close to the rim. And that was serving three people.
I'm pretty sure I made about seven or eight mistakes I will hopefully never make again. I sensed the suppressed eye roll of my trainers, having had many moment over the years suppressing that very same eye roll.
I've spent the last ten years as either a business owner or in a management position. It's been a long long time since anyone told me what to do. If I listen carefully, right now I can hear the gleeful laughter of all the interns, photography assistants and cruise ship photograpers of my past.
The experienced service professional around me were very encouraging. "You've served people in your house, right?" Yes. And well, I hope. "You'll be fine."
Michael left us with some general advice. "Smile, be friendly and try not to be awkward." Smile, I can do (although it's not pretty with a missing tooth). Be friendly, sure. Awkwardness though. Dude, I was born awkward. That should have been apparent from the interview krumping.
I've spent the early hours of this morning going over the comprehensive service manual Roxanne has made up. I may not have it yet, but I am going for most improved player. I refuse to be someone who lets down my fellow flight attendants.
I hope this is the heart I was hired for. I hope so. It's not my good looks, not my service training, not a short commute or a lack of dependants, certainly not my poise or social grace. It's got to be heart. I think I have that in spades.
So, if you are on an Air North flight in the next few weeks and a flight attendant awkwardly grins at you with a missing tooth and looks at you with eyes vaguely reminiscent of a deer in the headlights, and you order a spicy clamato juice, you can rest assured, there will be ice and a stir stick in your glass, you will be offered lemon and tabasco and it will be handed to you, graciously, from as far down on the glass as possible without risking spillage. And it will be done with heart.