Aisle 9 was party of one as I heard the telltale thump of the airplane door shutting, and I silently did an early 2000’s club rendition of my best dance moves in my mind to celebrate no seatmate. I pulled out the essentials and started the now familiar routine of airline engagement. I noticed there seemed to be quite a few attendants on the small flight, but chalked that up to employees hopping a ride from one three letter word to another.
I smiled as I saw a grandmother-like attendant carefully doting on passengers, her presence as neat and careful as her appearance. My eyes wandered back down to my book as the plane pushed back, and I heard the microphone crackle on. I set my pages aside and leaned on the armrest (I could do that with no seat mate, hallelujah!) when the sweet voice over the intercom caught my attention as it said:
“Good afternoon. My name is Barbara, and I am a flight attendant in training. My supervisor is Theresa. I want to welcome you on to this flight and let you know I will be happy to assist you in any way.”
By this time Barbara had my full attention. By my calculations, she wasn’t a day under 65 (being kind here), and she had just admitted that she was a rookie. An intern. Low man on the totem pole. At grandmother age.
Forget being a Wally World greeter, this lady upped the ante by being a greeter for the friendly skies.
I watched her move down the aisle, diligently checking seatbelts and counteracting sour faces with a smile that made it to her eyes. When she got to Aisle 8, she took a seat next to a pilot on a jump flight. Her curls just cleared the seat back, and I smiled at the back of her head, my book totally forgotten.
As the wheels lifted off the ground, my mind made up stories as to why she was starting a new position so late in life. As I was getting the gumption to say hello and ask her about her career switch, the service bell rang and she was off down the aisle, complete with that ready smile.
I never got another chance to talk with Barbara on that flight, but her presence and actions, unbeknownst to her, had a profound effect on me. May I be so in tune with what God has for my life that I would be willing to take rookie status past retirement age – with a smile that reaches my eyes.