“Call me,” were the words she mouthed while signing a phone call with her thumb and pinkie as she disembarked.
I must have mumbled something while still keeping the smile plastered on my face. The card she gave me was burning a hole in my palm and I was all too aware of it, even as I said a variation of ‘thank you, bye’ to the passengers disembarking. By the time the last family got off, I just wanted to go home. It had been one of those days. The flight had earlier been cancelled when an aircraft developed a technical problem and the engineers were not sure they could get it fixed in time. Well, the plane got fixed three hours later and the flight was reinstated. The Purser called in sick and I got called out of standby.
Standby! That most dreaded of duties. If you are scheduled to fly, you fly; if you are off, you are off; but standby? Imagine sitting at home all day with things you want to do but can’t, because you have one hour from the moment you get the call – if you get called – to get to the airport. Imagine spending an entire day willing your phone to NOT ring. That is standby.
I got my call, made it to the airport with time to spare. My crew and I went on board thinking how hard it could get, after all the flight did not exist one hour ago. We were so wrong. One hundred and twenty passengers wrong. One hundred and sixteen adults and four infants wrong. Boy, were we wrong!
Besides being regulation, I have found making announcements from the rear of the aircraft works fine for me. No one looks back when a Safety Demonstration is going on in front of them. No one should, but she did and that is why I noticed her. The first time I simply nodded at her, the next time our eyes met she smiled and what a smile. I put her out of my mind for the rest of the flight, and probably would not have remembered her had she not pressed her card into my palm as she got off, leaving me with the words “call me”.
Two days later I called her and we talked for over two hours – we took turns calling. We fixed to catch a movie the next day. The movie is still a blur. We whispered, tossed popcorn at people and giggled. When she got cold she snuggled against me. I drove from the cinema to my place where she did things to make me think this must be love. The next day I called her after work but the number could not be reached, and when I checked her card for another number, realized the number had been penciled in. The original numbers on the card were blacked out.
When people ask me what I love most about my job, what quickly comes to mind are the words “call me”, and I smile.