Wednesday, October 20, 2010

171. Oh, Katie Jones!

(Fun flashback moment)

So I used to fly with this flight attendant named Katie Jones, and she was such a cool girl. She was beautiful, a slightly shorter Demi Moore clone, with a magnetic personality—a certain charisma about her. If she was sitting next to me on the jump-seat, a five hour flight seemed like ten minutes. Whenever I saw her name on the flight paperwork, I thought, hurray! I get to fly with Katie!

Now, Katie Jones, as I soon enough discovered, was not the most unusual name in the world. Can you see where I am going with this? Yes, there were two Katie Jones.

I got on the plane one afternoon, expecting to find my pal, sweet and perky Katie with a scarf tied in her swishy ponytail. Instead, I met the other, shall we say, less pleasant Katie Jones (the one I instantly dubbed “The Impostor”) because although they shared a name, that’s where the similarities ended.

The Impostor was tall, skinny, had short spiky red hair, and a permanent scowl tattooed on her face. How she got a job that is essentially 99% customer service and 1% napping in airport lounges is beyond me. She was (surprise!) divorced. If she wasn’t busy bashing men, she was bashing Republicans, passengers, gays, small children, elderly people, Disney characters, real estate agents, Chinese people, and people with fake British accents (I kind of agreed with the last one, I must admit).

She made my life miserable at every turn. Can I help you set up the galley, Katie? No. Then: why didn’t you help me set up the galley? Shall I pick up trash now, Katie? Sure. Then: why are you doing everything out of order from the service guidelines? I’ll just run the pilots their meals, I’ll be back in a minute. Then: where were you?

Wait—since when is being bi-polar a job requirement here? 

If I tried to make small talk with Katie, she merely ignored me or talked over me. She claimed it was turbulence, but I swear the tomato juice she spilled on me was done on purpose. As for someone to spend time with on a Paris layover (as if I wanted to spend even one additional minute with her), she was what was referred to in Industry Slang as a “slam-clicker”—slam the hotel door shut and click the TV on.

In short, The Impostor Katie Jones was: a bitch.

I wondered about this awful Katie Jones. Was “Jones” actually her maiden name or did she retain her married name? (And if it was her married name, can she please give it back and return to being Katie Winesterfinklmeyeropolous so I can keep my Katie Joneses straight, thankyouverymuch.) Really, she didn’t look like a Katie (whatever a Katie may look like: she’s not it). She needed to be a “Matilda”, yes, that would suit her. Matilda. That sounds like a mean name. Would she be mad or would I get fired if I just started calling her Matilda?

The other Katie, who I was fortunate enough to have had a few Hawaii layovers with, was simply a joy to be around, positive and cheery. We would hang out together in Detroit or Boston or Portland or wherever United Airlines would send us, eating in greasy diners and touring local museums. She would buy small souvenirs for the goofy boyfriend she’d show me pictures of. She was outrageous and provocative and a great listener; she noticed everything, could make me laugh about nothing—my face would hurt from smiling when I spent the day with her.

It was rare for me to fly with either Katie Jones, which is why things were so confusing for me. Both women went by “Katie” with a letter “K”, although one was Katherine and the other was Catherine (that’s right, spelled with a letter “C”) on the paperwork.

I knew this. Each and every time I flew with Impostor Katie Jones or Hawaii Katie Jones, I told myself to remember which was which with the tricks the memory coaches suggest: think of a clever sentence or word-game to reinforce it! How about—I’m glad to “C” (see) her—so that’s the correct Katie. Or wait, was it that it’s O“K” (okay) to fly with Katherine? Argh, I always got my mnemonic devices mixed up. This was really not helping: thanks a lot, memory coaches.

Finally, I told myself it will NOT be the Katie Jones you want, so don’t get your hopes up. If it happens to be the right one, then fantastic.

It WAS the right one! The Hawaii Katie Jones! Yay, I’d do a little dance—I jumped up and down like a kindergartner going out to recess.

One day right before our onboard briefing, I confessed this bizarre dilemma to another flight attendant friend Keith. Keith dared to tell me he knew yet another Katie Jones, based in Chicago. Geez, how was I supposed to keep all the Katie Jones straight? Was I going to fly with her next? Did United Airlines only hire people named Katie Jones? Was Keith’s real name secretly Katie?

Keith put his hand on my shoulder and said, you know what, MOV? you think your name is so unusual, but I recently met another MOV based in Denver. As if to underscore the point, the co-pilot walked on board at that very moment, saw my name tag and said, “Huh, MOV. I know you—aren’t you based in Denver?”

No, I’m not. He must have me confused, maybe with a flight attendant who works for Delta.

(“Mistrusting Other Variables”)

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