Recently, I received e-mail from two readers who thought flying sounded like an exotic career and asked me if I would do it all over again. So when I met two old flying cronies for lunch, I asked them the same question.
We put our heads together and came up with a training guide for anyone who is considering a career as a flight attendant and is looking for the adventure of air travel. Here it is:
1. Go to a resale store and find an old, navy suit that an army sergeant might have worn. Add a white shirt and a tie. Wear the same outfit for three consecutive days.
2. Go to an airport and watch airplanes take off for several hours. Pretend you are standing by for them and they are all full. Go home. Return to the airport the next day and do the same thing again.
3. Fill several large boxes with rocks. Lift them over your head and place them on the top shelf of a closet. Slam the door shut until the boxes fit. Do this until you feel a disk slip in your back.
4. Turn on a radio. Be sure to set it between stations so there is plenty of static. Turn on the vacuum cleaner and garbage disposal. Run them all night.
5. Remove the covers from several TV entrees. Place them in a hot oven. Leave the food in the oven until it's completely dried out. Remove the hot trays with your bare hands. Serve to your family. Don't include anything for yourself.
6. Serve your family a beverage one hour after they've received their meal. Make them remain in their seats during this time. Ask them to scream at you and complain about the service.
7. Scrounge uneaten rolls off the plates for you to eat two hours later when you're really hungry.
8. Place a straight-backed chair in a closet facing a blank wall. Use a belt to strap yourself into it. Eat the rolls you saved from your family's meal.
9. Ask your family to use the bathroom as frequently as possible. Tell them to make splashing water a game and see who can leave the most disgusting mess. Clean the bathroom every hour throughout the night.
10. Make a narrow aisle between several dining room chairs and randomly scatter your husband's wing-tips and loafers along the way. Turn off the lights and spend the night walking up and down the aisle while banging your shins against the chair legs and tripping over the shoes. Drink several cups of cold coffee to keep yourself awake.
11. Gently wake your family in the morning and serve them a cold sweet roll. Don't forget to smile and wish them a nice day when they leave for work and school.
12. After the family leaves, take a suitcase and go out in the yard. If it's not raining, turn on the sprinkling system and stand in the cold for 30 minutes pretending like you're waiting for the crew bus to pick you up. Then go inside and wait by your bedroom door for another 30 minutes for an imaginary maid to make up your room.
13. Change into street clothes and shop for five hours. Pick up carry-out food from a local deli. Go back home. Sit on your bed and eat your meal. Set your alarm for 3 a.m. so you'll be ready for your wake-up call.
14. Repeat the above schedule for three days in a row and you'll be ready to work your first international trip.
Several years ago, on a flight out of Denver, my flying partner was half-buried in a cart trying to rescue the last few entrees from a meal cart. A passenger asked her what she was doing. Without removing her head from the carrier, she responded: "I'm looking for the glamour in this job."
And yes, I would do it all over again. So would my flying partners. Go figure.
Gail Todd, a free-lance writer, worked as a flight attendant for more than