Their Original Upright Positions

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Many times have I affirmed my fondness for my chosen profession (if we dare give it such a lofty name) in life. Slope’s blessed subscribers make it possible, and thus I am allow to to do what I love – – think, write, and create – – all under the guise of gainful employment.

And yet this weekend I was thinking about a very different kind of work………….

To explain: on Saturday, when I few out to Columbus, Ohio, I had to stop in Las Vegas, because there are no non-stop flights from San Francisco to Columbus. Ever. On any airline. Because, evidently, the crush of people from the Bay Area who want to fly to Columbus isn’t sufficient to warrant a nonstop flight.

This was unusual for me, since it was one of those situations where you don’t change planes. Thus, when we landed in Las Vegas, everyone except me got off the plane (again, I was the only freak who was actually electing to fly to Columbus; go figure).

As the flight attendants were cleaning up all the garbage from the customers who had just left the plane, I asked if I could change seats. The guy said, sure, pick any seat on the plane (this was Southwest, so it’s open seating). Cool! So I went right from front to seat A1 where there is (relatively speaking) plenty of legroom, plus the prospect of being the first one to get off at the end of the flight, so as not to waste a moment missing any of the delights that Ohio held in store for me.

After a while, they had done cleaning the plane, and it was time to let on all the people waiting to get on board. So they started filing in, and one by one, each passenger peered around and tried to pick out the least-awful seat they could. Obviously the plane filled up pretty much from the front first (which would suggest an infinitely smarter way to load the plane would be from the rear, but let’s not get distracted by ideals).

I guess I never really thought about how many strangers get on a plane (and this wasn’t a particularly big plane!), but it became more vivid to me as the man at the front – – who, back in the day would be a “steward” but now they’re all flight attendants – – greeted people as they came on board. Hello. Welcome aboard. Nice to see you. How are you? And so forth.


One needn’t have read my work very long to recognize I would do a poor job with this role, were I for some reason made into a flight attendant, but keep in mind this is just one of the many, many things they do.

They have to take drink orders. Deliver drinks. Pick up garbage. Answer questions. Do the safety demonstration. Give announcements. And, of course, in some cases they even have to deal with rude, belligerent, or even violent passengers. And I think we can all agree that anyone striking a flight attendant absolutely deserves to be handcuffed, dragged off the plane, and throw into a dungeon somewhere. After a beating.

And I was thinking to myself, God almighty, not only do these poor souls have to DO all this crap, day after day, week after week, but they actually worked hard to land this job! And they ain’t getting rich off it, either. I checked, and they pretty much make about $77,000 a year, more or less. So, to my eyes, they are incredibly positive and energetic considering their lot in life. I’d lose my goddamned mind, personally.

The thing is, there are tons and tons jobs way worse than what I was witnessing. I guess it’s no surprise there are literally millions upon millions of jobs absolutely begging to be filled. These flight attendants put up with a lot, and it just kills me that anyone would treat them with disrespect, discourtesy, or worse. Shameless!

In the midst of the same trip, I had occasion to speak to a number of Uber drivers. My chat with the first one was interesting, because he related to me that he couldn’t stand driving Uber in the Columbus area, because the people were so rude and condescending.

I was confused at first, because I could only assume he was referring to people visiting from outside the area. I figured, hey, Columbus, middle of the country, salt of the earth, the people must be nice as could be.

No, said he. Not only were the passengers rude, but the “rich” ones (again, everything is relative) in the rich neighborhoods (his definition: the houses cost as much as one million dollars) were the worst of all. He said in all his years of driving, not a single one – – not ONE! – – had tipped him!

I could hardly believe my ears. I tip 100% of the time, and I’m a cheap sumbitch.

I thought, maybe this guy is a bit of a kook, or maybe he was making up stories to compel me to give him a tip. Well, I asked other Uber drivers, and they all said the same thing he did. Evidently, Columbus passengers thought they were high and mighty since they had “hired” an Uber driver (!) and the rich neighborhoods were to be avoided, because those passengers made you wait, were particularly rude, and never, ever tipped. I honestly was flabbergasted.

So the conclusion? I guess two of them.

Be nice to people who work. And be grateful if you have a job you love.