Diana O. – Yaadinfo Contributor
Of all the umpteen flights I operated this week, a simple turn between Aquadilla and Orlando warranted a blog post. For those of you who don’t know, Aquadilla is in Puerto Rico. For my Jamaicans it’s the equivalent of country people coming to town for the first time. Think of the Oliver episode when he was standing at the airport in Kingston in ear muffs, a coat and no visa to travel to America. For my Americans, it’s the equivalent to rednecks visiting New York City for the first time. “Whaddya mean I can’t pee by this stop sign Billy Bob?!?” (Queue the tobacco chewing).
Flight attendants know the Aquadilla is the “country people” flight. This is the flight where people don’t lock the bathroom doors. This is the flight where we’ll find used toilet paper on the floor. This is the flight where people can’t find the flush button so they leave their, ahem, ‘business’ in the toilet bowl for the next person or flight attendant (me) to deal with. This is the flight where it was reported that a man used the sink as a toilet bowl, and we’re not talking Number 1 here ok?
This year, I am planning my birthday trip to the Far East(Bali or Tahiti, I haven’t decided) I am working extra hours to accommodate the decadence in which I am planning to partake. I picked up this extra trip to earn some overtime, so I wouldn’t have to work on my day off.
The flight down was uneventful. Mostly US mainland residents returning to Puerto Rico to visit family or to holiday. We landed early, I walked off the plane to enjoy some island breeze. The airport is right by the ocean, so the breeze was simply spectacular. My little afro was whipping around in the wind.
We boarded early. As nice as the breeze was, it was time to go home. Flight attendants like on time arrivals, but adore early arrivals even more. The first folks to board was a family of five. There were two elderly parents (looked about 60+) and three adult children (40+). Despite the wind, I smelt something coming off them. Their clothes had the scent of something that had been hanging in a locked closet or trunk for years. Guess they finally opened the closet or trunk because they needed clothes to fly. Of course, granny’s bag was the heaviest. While her two sons were sitting down, she was spinning around looking for help to get her bag, which seemed to be filled with bowling balls, up in the overhead bin. I averted my gaze, because eye contact meant I was checking that sucker. Well she didn’t need eye contact. She tapped my shoulder, “Mira! ” she said pointing to the bag. I smiled, “Ok it’s too big so we have to check it.” Granny was not having that. Suddenly her hands clamped around the bag and the knuckles turned white from her Jedi death grip. Her eyes opened wide as she glared at me over her glasses. Arguing with her was not an option. As I was about to inform the captain about her, a nice gentleman boarded and managed to force the bag up into the overhead bin. Bless him.
When I was reading the safety demo, I was hit with another smell over the musty clothes. I looked down and granny had taken her shoes off!
As a Jamaican I know about country people and no shoes. It’s typical for folks to leave their shoes at the door and enter a home barefoot so as not to carry dirt inside homes that are swept clean several times a day. Granny reminded me of Miss Tit, a friend of my grandmother who hailed from Trelawny, in the country. But Miss Tit’s clothes and feet never smelt like that. This was like toe jam central with sweat mixed in.
Granny and her family were sitting in the first row. I brewed coffee as soon as gravity allowed and strategically placed coffee filters in all corners and crevices of the galley to mask the high funk. Every time I passed her seat I had to hold my breath and when I forgot I was quickly reminded by the scent wafting into my mouth. I knew it was a mistake to look to down, but I couldn’t resist the urge. Could all this funk be coming from only Granny’s feet? Nope. Turns out every body in the front row had their shoes off. That galley was cleaned so fast after my service, it set a new personal clean up record. I ran faster than Usain Bolt to the back of the cabin. Six people, no shoes.
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