A blast from the (recent) past
When I first started at Air North as a flight attendant, I heard about an aviation legend.
I was learning how to use the ovens to heat Air North’s signature delicious warm cookies. Flight attendants sometimes use these ovens to heat their meals. I used to admire my co-workers elaborate lasagnas, curries and soups, prepared by hand at home and re-heated to perfection in the on-board kitchen. I was more of a carrot sticks and sandwich lady myself.
Someone, I can’t remember who, said, “There is a flight attendant who bakes in these ovens.”
“Like, from scratch?” I asked.
“Yeah, bread, cinnamon rolls, all kinds of stuff. His name is Derric, you’ll probably never meet him though, he’s part time.”
Now, I’ve made bread, and cinnamon rolls, from scratch, in my home kitchen with all of the amenities available to me. Most of the time I can get a decent result, after a lot of practise, but I’ve had my fair share of rock hard cinnamon rolls and sunken bread. To get a nice result on an airplane at 37,000 feet? Impossible.
I would probably never meet this Derric because he doesn’t exist. It must be a flight attendant hazing ritual or a urban aviation legend.
I ended up working with Derric a lot during the busy summer season, and it’s all true. The man can make delicious, perfect cinnamon rolls, in an airplane. In fact, he made some the first time I ever worked with him.
Keep in mind, we often start work at silly times, like 5:45am. Goodness know how early he had to wake up to make the dough, let it rise, pound it down, let it rise and so on before coming in to work. But it was worth it, the results were delicious.
This kind of thing was what made the job fun. Working with people like Derric, who weren’t just getting through the work day, but embracing it. When you do almost exactly the same thing, every day, a little fun and variety changes everything. The days I worked with flight attendants like Derric, I served passengers with a genuine smile on my face and a spring in my step. Fortunately for me, several flight attendants were fun to work with.
If you are worried that our passengers were strapped their seats hungry and thirsty while we were merrily baking away in the back you can rest assured that the passengers were always, always looked after before we looked after ourselves. On busy flights we often didn’t have a chance to eat at all. And, of all the flight attendants, Derric is one of the most conscientious about making sure the passengers are treated well. He has cookie warming and seat belt crossing down to a science. Once, when we were delayed in Fairbanks for over an hour with passengers stuck on the plane he had us do a water service, food service and a drink service before take-off. Plus he sent us all in to chat with passengers, make them feel comfortable and help them any way we could. When those passengers left the plane back in Dawson, two hours later than they were expected, they thanked us and said it was a great flight.
It’s a pleasure to do a job when you can do it well and enjoy it. It wasn’t always like that, but when it was, I feel the passengers benefitted. Having happy employees who enjoy their job is an important and often overlooked aspect of good customer service. It’s a lesson I will take with me in whatever I do next.