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Month: February 2010 (Page 2 of 3)

The one where I run the risk of coming off as a huge bitch

How fat is too fat to fly?

Recently I read a really great blog post by Backpacking Dad that sparked some really interesting conversations via the comments section of the article. He said that asking the question: How fat is too fat to fly? is asking the wrong question. He says:

“The real question (the one that needs to be asked of the airlines) is ‘What is it about your profit-policy that makes it different enough from… other cases of unacceptable discrimination-for-profit… that you can consider dollars ahead of dignity and exclude the overweight segment of the population from your customer base by not equipping airliners with some bigger seats?'”

His basic point is that airlines are discriminating against obese people by not providing seats they can fit in. It’s a great article, well thought out, and humorous. Unfortunately, I completely disagree.

Airlines have a simple formula when they decide how much each seat costs: It costs x to fly from point a to point b. They divide x by the number of seats on the plane and that is the price per seat. If the all the seats are larger then less fit, therefore the price per seat is more. Airlines barely break even as it is because fares are so low. The problem is not whether or not airlines provide seats to accommodate larger travelers. Almost all major airlines do provide larger seats. It’s called first class. First class seats are expensive because they take up a lot of room. The problem is whether or not people are willing/able to pay for the bigger seats. The success of low cost carriers like Southwest have proven that people are not willing to pay more for their seats. While all airlines don’t offer first class, they all offer the option of purchasing a second seat if a person won’t fit in just one seat.

Backpacking Dad’s assertion is that making a profit is less important than doing the “right thing”. According to him the “right thing” is accommodating obese travelers by replacing current seats with bigger ones on all aircraft. He paints it as a human rights issue, akin to segregation. While I agree that human rights are always more important than any company’s bottom line, my question is, is it really a human rights issue? Is it discriminatory to not reconfigure a product to fit a specialized group?

Personally I don’t think airlines should have to reconfigure all their fleets to conform to America’s growing waistlines. They sell a product. Their product is a seat that gets from point a to b. Sometimes that includes a drink, sometimes a meal and sometimes a lot more depending on how much you paid. When airlines design the inside of the their aircraft they take safety, cost and comfort into consideration, in that order. Their goal is to transport people as safely as possible while making a profit so they can, ya know, stay in business.

If airlines did decide (out of some of some sense of ethical responsibility) that they were going to make all or even some of their economy class seats bigger somebody would have to pay for it. Who would that have to be? The obese person? If so then wouldn’t that still be discrimination? Should they divide it between all of the passengers? That wouldn’t really be fair to the average sized person if all fares were more expensive because of a select few. Should the government subsidize the airlines? That would require some sort of tax which is ultimately passed onto not only average sized fliers but all tax paying Americans, some of whom have never been on an airplane in their lives. That certainly wouldn’t be right either.

I believe all human rights should be fought for no matter what it costs. I just don’t agree that obese people are being discriminated against in general. Extreme cases, like that of Kevin Smith and others, are a different story. He met the guidelines laid out by the airline so there was no reason he should have been pulled off that flight. Of course, there are two sides to every story and it’s unclear why exactly he was singled out. No matter what, I believe the way he was treated was unacceptable. However, I’m not talking about those who fit in the seats.

Businesses should have to make reasonable accommodations. Handicapped ramps and stalls for example. These cost a minimal amount up front and don’t hurt their business. In my opinion, reasonable accommodations are already being made for obese people. Obese people who don’t fit in one seat have several options: lose weight, buy a first class seat, buy two economy class seats or find a different way to get where they’d like to go. I believe airlines could do more by providing clearer information about the maximum size that can fit in each seat in the same place they list luggage limitations. Until they make those changes though seat information can be found on Seat Guru.

What it comes down to is being obese isn’t something that is completely uncontrollable like the color of your skin or sexual preference. People make life decisions. In other countries this may not be the case but in America every person has the choice to purchase and consume healthy or unhealthy food every day. They choose whether or not they consume liters of soda pop or pounds of sweets. Every person has the choice to exercise daily or to sit on their butt and do nothing. Yes, being healthy is hard work. Yes, choosing to put down that doughnut or bag of chips takes self control. Yes, it sucks to have to go to the gym or for a walk after a long day at work. There are all kinds of things that get in the way. But ultimately it comes down to what is important to each individual person.

I hope that all I’m saying does not paint me as a hateful person. I don’t expect everyone to look the same and I don’t have a problem with big people. I have a problem with people blaming the airline for the fact that they can’t fit in a seat. People come in all shapes and sizes and curvy people are as beautiful as thin people. However, those that choose to be extremely overweight are hurting themselves. It doesn’t mean they’re not wonderful people, it means they’ve made bad choices about their health. To say it’s not a choice demeans all the hard work that people like FaintStarLite, JewliaGoulia, ExHotGirl, LosingWaist and countless others have put in. I’ve followed their journeys and watched them have awesome victories and frustrating defeats. But they keep going. Day after day they put in the hard work that is necessary to achieve their goals. I’m betting every one of them would tell you it’s totally worth it. And I’ll be here cheering them on.

The choices that got someone to the point of being obese may or may not have been theirs. They may have been fed fattening, processed foods growing up. They may not have had all the information or been taught how to make healthy choices. But today is a new day. Every single day each individual gets up and make a choice whether they are going to live in a way that is good for them and brings them closer to their goals or if they’re going to make choices that keep them where they are or push them further away from their goals. I make choices every day, I know that everyone else can too.

In a perfect world everyone would be able to travel the world in their own emission free private jet whenever they wanted. We would all have whatever our idea was of a perfect body. We wouldn’t have to worry about money, everyone would get along and things would be all sunshine and rainbows. Unfortunately the world is not perfect. Those that cannot afford their own private jets have to find other ways to travel and for some that means buying more than one seat.

On being a flight attendant: the best and the worst

I was asked by High Flyer on Twitter what the best and worst things about my job are. Since there’s no way to fit that into the 140 character limit I thought I’d list my personal best and worst here. If you’re considering applying as a flight attendant take note.

Best:

1. Getting paid to travel the world

I am lucky enough to work for a major airline. This has meant being able to explore various major (and not so major) cities all over the USA during my layovers. Not only have I been able to explore the good ol’ USA but I’ve also been lucky enough to have been sent on many international trips. During my two years flying I got layovers in 13 different international destinations, some of them several times. I can’t tell you how many times, while lying on some exotic beach or standing in front of some major landmark, I’ve thought “I just can’t believe someone is paying me to be somewhere so amazing”. It’s really incredible.

2. The travel benefits

In addition to my assigned trips I have been able to take numerous amazing trips in my time off. Joel and I spent our anniversary in Buenos Aires, we traveled to Sydney Australia for a major motion picture world premiere, we went to The Netherlands to visit my former host family… I could go on and on. On my own I’ve flown to dozens of other destinations, often in first or business class. I could never afford to pay full fare for a first class seat normally. This job has allowed me to travel the world like a rock star, without all the annoying paparazzi.

3. Meeting new people

I have met so many fascinating people. I’ve made good friends during training, worked with some fantastic crews and met some incredibly interesting passengers.

4. Flexible schedules

I have 11 guaranteed days off every month. Even that is more than most people working a 9 to 5. In addition to that I am almost never used on all my days on call. Plus, I have the option of getting a schedule with several days off in a row. I’ve had up to two weeks off at a time and that isn’t even when I had vacation. How many jobs allow you to do that?

5. Lots of down time

Being on reserve means I work flights when other flight attendants call in sick, misconnect or can’t work the flight because of contract legalities. Some days, even though I’m on call, they simply don’t need me to cover any flights so I get a bonus day off. This sometimes happens several days in a row. Also, every time I get to my layover hotel it’s my free time to do whatever I want. Whether that means exploring the city I’m in, laying out at the pool or the beach, getting something to eat, reading a book or just sleeping for a long, long time.

6. Pride in my work

I am so proud to be a flight attendant. Only 1% of those who applied to work for my airline were hired. I completed 7 weeks of flight attendant training even though not everyone who began training completed it. I’m responsible for the lives of all the passengers on whatever plane I’m working on. My job is generally thought of as glamorous. While glamorous is not always the word I’d use to describe my job, I’m always proud to tell people that I’m a flight attendant.

7. A “fast pass” through security

Because our job often requires us to get to our flight quickly, most airports have a dedicated employee line. We’re allowed to use those lines even when we’re off duty. We still have to follow the same rules as everybody but it’s nice to be able to go to the front of line. Now that I’m on furlough and had to turn in my badge I really miss my “VIP” status in the security line.

8. Did I mention the travel benefits?

Because yeah, they’re awesome.

Worst:

1. Irregular schedule

We have to bid for our schedules every month. They are assigned based on seniority. I’ve only been an employee for about two years so that puts me at the bottom of the barrel. Sometimes I get the days off I need in a month and sometimes I don’t. I never really know and that can be frustrating.

2. Weird sleeping and eating patterns

I could work a red-eye one day and a mid day flight the next. One day I could be in Des Moines Iowa and the next I could be on a 14 hour flight to Tokyo. Sometimes I get a long layover and have plenty of time to sleep and other times I barely have six hours at a hotel. I just never know. There are also times when I’m not sure when I’m going to be able to get my next meal. When I’m on a plane there may or may not be food. Also, I might get to my layover hotel after all the local restaurants are closed. There are times when I have to force myself to eat when I’m not hungry simply because I have no idea when I’ll get another chance. It’s not the healthiest way to live.

3. Missing major events and holidays

Only the most senior flight attendants get their first choice when it comes to getting holidays off. Sometimes I get to be with my family and sometimes I’m at an airport hotel alone. I’ve missed many birthdays, sports games and special events. Bidding for my schedule is always stressful when I have something important coming up.

4. Lots of down time

I know I listed this as one of the benefits but it can also be a pain. You have to be really creative to make a long Oklahoma City layover interesting (no offense to any Okies out there). Also, when the weather is good and not many people are calling in sick it’s really hard not to feel useless sitting at home for days on end waiting for a call. You can’t really make plans because you could get a call so you just sit. Because inevitably when you do make plans with someone that’s when you get the call and have to cancel.

5. Mistreatment

I’ve had my share of difficult passengers. I can deal with someone who’s frustrated or angry. The worst is when it’s my own company. I watch the executives make muti-million dollar a year salaries and take huge bonuses while we’re not even making enough to live on. On top of that it seems like at every opportunity the crew schedulers try to bend or even outright break the contract rules. It’s frustrating to have to have to be on the defensive and feel like you have to fight for your rights with someone who should be on your side.

6. Crappy pay

I don’t care what you’ve heard, most flight attendants aren’t well paid. The very most senior flight attendants get paid fairly decently but even they are making up to 40% less than they were before 9/11. Their pensions were lost and hours were cut. If I wasn’t married, at my salary I qualify for food stamps and other government assistant programs.

Being a flight attendant is really hard work. It’s exhausting, frustrating and extremely rewarding. It’s not a job for everyone. While there are certain things I’d fix I believe the good definitely outweighs the bad and I can’t imagine doing anything else. It’s my dream job and I feel so lucky to be able to say that I’m a flight attendant.

Airline Advertising: Major Fails

Some ads make you feel comfortable. Some make you believe you must have a product. Some inspire trust. Some make you laugh. And others make you laugh, but for all the wrong reasons.

The problem isn’t so much the ad itself but the placement of the ad. (click for larger image)

Doesn’t exactly inspire trust… yikes!

When this ran in an actual newspaper in 1979 it probably seemed like a good idea. Now it’s just plain creepy.

“Come fly our airline” Um, right into the ground….?

thanks to zaibatsu, gothamist, traytables-travels and theflyingpinto for the inspiration

Want!

I don’t enter contests often. I’m not a particularly lucky person when it comes to things like that so I usually don’t bother. I’m totally drooling over this contest though so I can’t help but enter. The art made by Modern Bird Studios is fresh and contemporary. It’s simple but elegant and is custom made to fit any decor. I would love to have a piece hanging in our house somewhere. Their pieces are definitely an investment and since I can’t see us being able to afford one any time in the near future I’ve entered to win one on Baby Rabies’ blog.

If you want to enter to win a piece of gorgeous modern art click on the button below:

But actually don’t because I really want to win it…

Valentine Shmalentine

I am not a fan of Valentine’s Day. To me it’s just a set up for failure and disappointment. Single people feel like crap about themselves because they don’t have someone. People who are away from their significant others feel even more like crap because they can’t be with the one they love. People in a committed relationship are hurt or disappointed by their significant other because something went wrong, someone forgot or the plans didn’t live up to the grand romantic gesture they had in their head.

Not that I judge those that get excited about Valentine’s Day. I understand to some it is a very exciting, happy day. Unfortunately, most Valentine’s Days seem to be pretty crummy for me. Either I’m out of town or Joel has to work and it seems like we’re always sick. There are a few that stand out as particularly awful though and I am positive that they contributed to my cynical attitude about the day. So, for your enjoyment, I present

My top 3 worst Valentine’s Days ever:

3. Valentine’s Day 2004. I had just turned 18. I was currently dating a boy I had known since I was 12. We’d both had crushes on each other over the years but we’d only started dating officially the previous October. He was a couple years older than me and was a marine stationed in North Carolina. I was young, in love, and convinced that someday we were going to get married. I drove out with his family to visit him at the beginning of February because he was about to be deployed to Iraq. He was deployed on February 12th. I drove back and spent that Valentine’s Day a weepy, miserable mess.

2. Valentine’s Day 2007. I was 21. Joel and I had been married for almost a year and were celebrating our very first Valentine’s Day as a married couple. Despite my cynical attitude about the day I was excited to finally celebrate this holiday like a married couple for the first time. I thought maybe the reason this day hadn’t gone so well for me over the years was because I wasn’t married and so I was planning on a nice, romantic evening alone with my love. The day dawned and we happily went off to work. Joel was complaining of a bit of an upset stomach but I didn’t think much of it. By the time we were both done with work though he was not at all okay. He had some sort of stomach virus and could barely stand because he was in so much pain. I took him home and put him to bed, disappointed because the day wasn’t filled with hearts, flowers and romance like I expected. At the time we lived on the second floor of a three story apartment building. Couples lived above, below and beside us. The walls were very thin. I will never forget laying next to my poor new husband, doubled over in pain beside me, while listening to the sounds of three couples, um, enjoying each other. It was like a surround-sound soundtrack to a really lame porno. Definitely not the night I expected.

And my number one worst Valentine’s Day….

1. Valentine’s Day 2000. I was 14 years old. My whole family, minus my dad and little brother, had been sick with a killer flu for the last couple of weeks. We were all still very sick and were laying on different couches or chairs in the living room listening to books on tape. This was all we had energy for, even watching movies was too much for us because we were just that sick. Our twenty year old family dog lay at our feet. She was sick as well, but for her it was just from old age. My dad came into the room and picked her up to carry her away. She was so old she could barely get up to go outside, she was miserable. Instead of taking her outside to go to the bathroom though he said we should each say goodbye. He was taking her to the vet to be put to sleep. I was so sick I could hardly get out of the chair to hug her. I begged my dad to wait until at least the next day, to please not do it on Valentine’s Day. That was appointment that he had though and he didn’t know when he could get another one. I understood that she needed to be put out of her misery. She was 140+ years old in dog years. I loved that dog so much though. I still get teary about it ten years later. For me, Valentine’s Day will always mark the day my childhood dog died. I miss you, Trixi.

These are the reasons I now choose to skip Valentine’s Day. No card company or calendar is going to dictate how or when I show my love for Joel. We love each other very much and we don’t need any candy hearts to prove it.

*Sniff, Sniff*

Joel and I have both been suffering from colds for the last couple days. Tonight Joel has the headache from hell that I had the other day. *sad face* I’ve now progressed to occasional stuffiness with a good amount of the sneezes thrown in. At least it’s progressing. Hopefully both of our colds will be gone in the next couple days and we can go back to our normal non-scrunchy selves.

Side note: I have a funny sneeze. In fact I have made strangers laugh out loud when they hear me sneeze. It’s not my fault though, it’s genetic. My dad sneezes like the big bad wolf, you’d think it would blow the house down. My mom on the other hand has much more normal sneeze, at least at first. The funny part is the end. Some people call it a backfire. Some have said it sounds like a cat meowing. It’s like “achoo, hew!” Lucky me got a mix of both so it’s something like “AAHCHOO, hew!”

Anyway, I consider myself a fairly healthy person. The last time I got majorly sick was about five years ago, and the time before that was almost ten years ago. I do however find myself with the occasional common cold. Sneezy, stuffy, phlegmy (is that a word?) grossness. Since it is called the common cold I assume some of you suffer from it from time to time. Here’s how I generally survive mine.*

First of all, the minute I feel like I’m getting a cold, you know, that little itch in the back of your throat, I start taking tons of vitamins. Usually vitamin C and echinacea three times a day. I’ve tried Cold-Eeze before but it didn’t seem to do much and it leaves a very strange, bitter aftertaste in my mouth. Also, I’ve tried gargling lime juice and salt which is also iffy on how well it works. No word on whether adding tequila is more or less affective.

While it seems the above are helpful, I have yet to find something that actually prevents a cold from coming every time. Usually my colds are much shorter than the average person’s though so I like to think they at least help.

Once I have a cold the most important thing I take care of is my nose. I always make sure I some kind of tissue that has lotion in it. There is nothing worse to me than feeling miserable only add to it by rubbing my nose raw by using cheap tissues.

Even with great tissues I still inevitably end up with a rudolph nose. To take care of that I slather Desitin on my nose right before I fall asleep. I know it sounds weird using diaper rash ointment on your face but trust me, it works. You have to use it at night though because it doesn’t soak in quickly. So, unless you think walking around with a gooey, white nose is better than a red one, I’d wait until you go to bed.

So there you have it. Possibly a little weird but they work for me and make my colds way more bearable. What about you? What are your best tips on surviving a cold?

*disclaimer: I don’t have a medical degree of any kind. If you’re really sick, see a doctor.

Dogs can train people too

I am a bit of an overachiever.* Before we got Phoebe I did a lot of research. I not only researched the type of dog that I wanted but I read many books about puppy training. A big part of why we were getting a dog was because I was home alone a lot and frankly bored. As a flight attendant I had a lot of time off and I wanted to spend that time doing something productive.

All the books I read said that one of the most important things in dog training was establishing who the “alpha dog” is. One of the big no-no’s was allowing your new dog to sleep in your bed. The books explained that, in dog world, the leader of the pack gets the best place to sleep. It made sense to me so we set Phoebe up in a little kennel next to our bed. Any of you who have gotten a puppy know that the first couple of nights are not fun. She was normal and whined all through the night and we were good puppy parents and stuck to our rules. When she whined the first time we took her outside and after that she had to cry it out.

The thing is, we have a very quiet puppy. At the time she never barked, she just softly whined. Sometimes it would wake us up but other times it wouldn’t. Everything I’ve ever read says dogs won’t potty where they sleep… well Phoebe clearly never read those books because no matter how small we made her sleeping space we would wake up to a puddle because I wouldn’t hear her whining soon enough. I tried setting an alarm for every couple hours but after a few nights of that I was a monster during the day from lack of sleep. Like I’ve said before, I need my sleep. Joel tried being the one to take her out every couple hours at night. Even though he does better than me with little sleep, after awhile he couldn’t keep getting up every several hours either.

At first it just started with the alarm going off and me pulling her out of her cage in a blur. I would pull her onto the bed and before I could either wake Joel up or take her outside myself I’d fall back asleep. The next morning I’d wake up and she would be sleeping in the crook of my arm, happy as can be. After a couple nights of this (and not waking up to a peed on bed) we knew she could hold it that long so we tried not setting an alarm. We woke up to a mess every single morning. It was so frustrating that after awhile I just started bringing her into bed with me. It went against the books but it worked.

And you know what? Other than the housebreaking thing (which was an issue no matter where she slept) we’ve not had any training problems with her. She’s incredibly well behaved. Even people who don’t like dogs think she’s a sweetheart.

Most of the time she snuggles with me but every once in awhile she wants to get a little snuggle time in with Joel too.

She’s being shy. It’s first thing in the morning so she hasn’t fixed her face yet.

These are seriously some of my favorite moments with her and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. I don’t care what the books say.

*That is probably definitely an understatement.

Sinus headache from Hell

Today my head has cycled between feeling like this:

to feeling like this:

Not at all fun. Somebody please kill me now.

Only in the Midwest

Early this morning, while a blizzard swirled outside, I was lying snug in my bed fast asleep. My puppy was curled up under my arm on one side and the other side was pressed up against my husband. What I was dreaming I’ll never remember because I was jostled awake by a rattling. It sounded like it was either a huge gust of wind, something hitting our building or something exploding close by. The entire apartment shook for a few seconds and then was still again. I barely woke up and would’ve shut my eyes and fallen back asleep, thinking I dreamed the whole thing. Joel however, sprung out of bed and gasped, “What was that?” Since I was still coming out of a fairly deep sleep (having only fallen asleep four hours earlier) I was pretty confused and a little annoyed. Joel excitedly jumped out of bed and began throwing his clothes on while asking, “Was that an earthquake?”

“I have no idea. Come back to bed!” I moaned while trying to get back to sleep as quickly as possible.

“I need to check things out.”

“Check what out? If it was an earthquake what are you going to do about it?”

“Well if it was a bomb I’ll be able to see the glow from the city.”

“Joel, no matter what you’re going to see a glow from the city, it’s Chicago, it’s a huge city.”

By this time Joel was out the door. I was too awake by that point so I tried to speed up the process by rolling over and checking the “nearby” section of my Twitter app. Sure enough, people were talking about feeling something and wondering what exactly it was.

I heard Joel come back in the house and then I heard the TV turn on. Keep in mind this whole thing happened maybe three minutes before. I’m fairly certain no news goes on the air that quickly. Joel watched for a couple of minutes then came back in the room and grabbed the dog. Up until that point Phoebe had been sleeping soundly through all the excitement and didn’t seem very pleased to be pulled out of her warm bed.

“People are talking about feeling something on Twitter.” he informed me, “There’s nothing on the news though.” He again went outside, this time with the dog.

By this time I figured I may as well document the craziness so I began twittering.

I also did a little research and found out that it was indeed an earthquake and that the magnitude was 3.8. At the time the site said it was a 4.3 so I guess it was somehow downgraded in the last 17 hours. Not sure exactly how that works.

When he finally came back inside for the second time I asked him again what exactly he expected to accomplish outside. His reasoning was that if it happened again he didn’t want the apartment to fall on him. This was never mentioned to me so apparently he was totally cool with leaving me to hold up the building. Don’t forget, he took the dog with him… At least I know where I stand.

Eventually we both calmed down and managed to doze a little while before our alarms went off. Only in the Midwest can you have a blizzard and an earthquake at the same time. What a night.

Rambling

It’s snowing like crazy here. It’s so pretty. I am fighting off a cold by getting a lot of sleep and taking tons of vitamin C. These past two weeks have been really stressful and I didn’t get very good sleep the whole time. I’ve been home for the last couple nights and I’ve been in bed by 9:30 or earlier both nights. It sucks that I’m kind of sick the two nights that I’m home. At least I’m home, in my own bed and I get to snuggle with my loves.

I really need a car. That would make it so I could come home most nights. Unfortunately we just can’t afford to buy another car right now though. I love my sister and I adore my nephews but it’s really hard being away from home so many nights. I’ve decided to stay here tonight and go out to my sister’s in the morning. It will probably make for a short night but at least it will be a short night in my own bed.

I’m just so tired. Even with all the sleep I’ve gotten the last several nights I’m still tired. Without getting addicted to caffeine I’m not sure how to get over this exhaustion. It’s really not fun. This post probably makes no sense, hence the title. I have a bunch of blog post ideas but I can’t muster up the energy to write about any of them right now. I’ll try not to phone in too many more of my posts but tonight you’ll have to leave a message after the beep.

*beeeep*


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