A Daily Leap + Saying Goodbye with Heather Poole
It’s hard for me to believe that today is the final day of #ALeapOfFaithChallenge. I’ll have a recap tomorrow along with some lessons I’ve learned. For now though, who better to round out a 30 day challenge than someone who steps into airplanes on a daily basis as part of her job?
Heather Poole is a flight attendant, author of Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama and Crazy Passengers at 30,000 Feet, a wife and mother and someone who quite literally takes leaps of faith on a daily basis as part of her job.
Poole recently tweeted something that made me stop to think about what it must be like to have to be polite to 160 people– and in an enclosed space, no less. Though I was certain that she must be a daredevil, she insists that she’s anything but and is even afraid of roller coasters. She shared some wisdom gleaned at 30,000 feet and from sharing her work space with an ever evolving cast of strangers.
Dealing With Difficult Passengers: A good night’s sleep always helps. Our layovers are so short sometimes (8/10 hours). It’s not uncommon to have duty days longer than our layovers. After a few too many of short layovers even the most professional flight attendant might have trouble keeping their cool when pushed far enough.
Staying Calm: When dealing with a difficult passenger the best thing to do is to stay calm and try to understand where the person is coming from. A lot of times they just want to be heard. One flight attendant I know will say, “Tell me what you want me to know, and what you’d like me to do.” It’s amazing how well that works. But if that doesn’t work, changing the energy usually makes a difference.
Have someone else to step in and handle the problem. Sometimes that’s all it takes. If I’m the flight attendant who checked your bag and now you hate me because now you have to wait around baggage claim for another half hour, there’s a good chance I won’t be able to calm you down as quickly as someone else when something else goes wrong. Like, when we run out of the soda of your preference or the power outlet at your seat isn’t working. In regular life you get to move on from one bad situation to another. On a plane you get to sit and stew and think about how mad you are about whatever happened that ruined your flight.
I should also mention I recently discovered Deepak Chopra & Oprah Winfrey’s 21 day meditation podcast. It’s so great. Now when I start to get upset, I try to stay focused on what’s important, things that matter. I try to not let the “noise” distract me from staying calm and true to myself. If somebody wants to be a jerk, I try to let them take that jerk path alone. Well, I try. Sometimes, not often, I go along with them. I’m human!
Daily Flights of Faith: For me flying is just like getting in a car, only I’m going to be gone a little longer so I have to figure out what to wear. I think more about packing than anything else, and I don’t really think about that so much anymore because I tend to pack the same things every time. No joke, I have to psych myself out more to drive on the highway than I do to travel by plane. My husband is a frequent flier. I met him on a flight. My mother always wanted to be a flight attendant and then finally became one two years after I did. Most of my friends love to travel so maybe I’m attracted to the lifestyle and other people who are drawn to it. I’d go crazy if I stayed home all the time, if travel wasn’t such a big part of my life. That said nothing makes you appreciate home quite like travel.
Balancing a Public and Personal Self: The only challenge I had was finding time to write the book. That’s still my biggest challenge – finding time to write. Time…. Where does it go? A good day is a day that involves writing. Even if I only write for half an hour. That half an hour feels so good, like I’ve accomplished something, even if I only write a paragraph.
When I’m at home I’m sort of a hermit. I’m not that social. Maybe because after I’ve worked a few days in a row I need time to myself to recharge. I’d much rather stay in and be with my family than go out with friends. My husband travels for work too. In fact he travels more than I do. His trips are always last minute. Sometimes it feels like we play a game of tag – you’re it! Time to fly. So when we’re both home at the same time we make a point to spend that time together with our 9 year-old son. Family time is precious. When I’m at work I’m like a totally different person. Maybe it’s all that time at home. Whatever it is, I like to have fun at work. I’ll joke around with passengers and go out with coworkers on layovers for dinner or maybe drinks. After 5 or 6 days of that, I always have a ton of material to write about so… the whole writing/flying thing sort of works well together.
So Many Goodbyes: In the beginning it was weird to really connect with a fellow coworker and then say goodbye so quickly it was like we never met. After 20 years of flying, I’m used to it now. Even when I want to make an effort to see a coworker outside of work on a day off, it’s hard because our schedules are so different. When I’m home, they’re flying and vice versa. With so many people coming in and out of our lives, we get used to saying goodbye. Even on the phone I tend to wrap it up quick as soon as I feel like we’re going down that road. No need to draw it out any longer than necessary. I don’t mean to be rude, it’s just… well…I say it too much I guess. Maybe that’s why flight attendants love Facebook so much. It’s a nice way to hang out without leaving the house. A nice way to hang out and not say goodbye.
On Ghosting (Poole wrote about the phenomenon of ghosting, or ending a relationship by disappearing and without saying goodbye, on her blog): Ghosting is an awful thing to do. I was ghosted twice. Once when I was much younger and then again a few years ago. The reason I wrote about it is because it was really hard on me, and if it was hard on me it has to be a thousand times harder for someone else, a person who doesn’t spend their life saying goodbye. Saying goodbye is important, especially after you’ve shared a connection with another person. It’s a sign of respect. Just let the person know you’re out so they can quit asking questions and move on. It’s that simple. Repeat after me, buh-bye. That’s all you’ve got to say. Take it from me it’s much nicer than silence.
Today’s #ALeapOfFaithChallenge is the final in the series and it’s about saying goodbye in a good way. Have you ever ghosted someone, or disappeared from their life without offering them an explanation or chance to say goodbye? Have you ever been ghosted by somebody else? Are there people in your life that you wish you had the nerve to say goodbye to either literally or figuratively? What was the hardest goodbye you’ve ever said? Which was the best one?
Goodbyes aren’t always bad and they’re a very real part of life. I’m having a hard time saying goodbye and will post a recap tomorrow to give this project some closure.
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