In The Tiger's Den-This flight attendant's training ground
Updated: Oct 27, 2020
My heart was always in my throat beating a thousand miles a minute, and my stomach tied in multiple knots wrought with anxiety as I waited for Mr Big to arrive. Lets just say, he was…intense. The kind of intense that expects perfection and has no time for movies, TV or anything so frivolous. (he had no idea who Tom Cruise was if that gives you any sense of the man.) This was a company that I did a bit of work for when I first started out. I loved the flight attendant who trained me. She was an incredible mentor, and a perfectionist. I learned from the best. She was also very supportive and kind. This is probably what kept me hanging in there despite this terror I felt before every trip.
I would wait by the galley in the back of the plane wondering who it would be today. Dr Jekyll or Mr Hyde? His assistant was my lifeline to how to proceed. I awaited her signal She would walk right behind him onto the jet, and look right at me with a nod or a shake. The nod was yes, he is in a good mood, you may approach.
The shake was the worst. It meant he lost a sailing race, or his horse didn’t win, or he was just plain angry for no reason anyone could discern. All I knew, was when I got the “shake” leave a wide birth and definitely do not look the tiger in the eye ..he was out for blood. I waited until beckoned for whatever his request might be on these days.
Food was always French style fancy. This was where I learned were the bread plate goes.(the left) Coffee must be served in a heated mug, only ¾ of the way. Sauce must be delicately laid to the side of the dish. I am not sure anyone who is not in the business understands how much time and effort goes into meal planning and preparation for a simple dinner, Even if it is just for two. Research, and then hitting 5-10 different spots to procure just the perfect cheeses, the perfect peach that was not to firm, not too mushy, not too fuzzy, with a delicate aroma of peach, not grass, and no blemishes. It was a bit of a treasure hunt, and actually kind of fun when it is not your full time job.
On the road, I would meet with chefs and we would plan something spectacular together for my guests. Sometimes I would be so excited to serve this incredible 5 course meal coming home from Europe or Asia, dreaming of how this would be the meal to end all meals and he would be so thrilled… only for him to say he wasn’t hungry. Or worse, he would tell me which of the choices he would like, his guests would pick theirs, I would prepare just what they requested, then when I served, Mr Big would say such and such’s plate looked better and he would like that dish instead. AHHHHHHHHH! Insides were screaming as I had to figure out how to make this happen and pull a non existent meal out of my magic hat! That is a very important skill set in this field…Magic
The tigers den was the best “training” grounds for me as a young and new flight attendant. He expected perfection, and I did my best to deliver.
Don’t get the idea that all guests are so particular.
The next CEO I worked for was a tuna sandwich and Campbells tomato soup from a can kind of guy. Go figure.