Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Review: Cruising Attitude by Heather Poole

Once upon a time, I thought being a flight attendant was a glamorous job. See the world for free and all that jazz. And then I met some flight attendants who, while they love their jobs (most of the time), quickly disabused me of that particular fantasy. Heather Poole's insider memoir Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama, and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet serves the same function. Like many jobs, being a flight attendant is only glamorous from the outside looking in.

Poole started as a flight attendant at a cut rate carrier (now out of business) but quickly interviewed for the same position with a major airline and was hired. She gives the reader a glimpse into the extensive training involved in the job and the ways in which different aircraft require different protocols in terms of safety and also in terms of service. She discusses her fellow new recruits and what they faced as they joined the ranks of the more experienced flight attendants. Large portions of the book detail the expensive and cramped living conditions flight attendants endure living in "Crew Gardens" (Kew Gardens), New York, the abyssmally poor pay, and the stress of being the lowest person on the totem pole and having to consistently work the unpredictable reserve slot. Certainly not an easy lifestyle and one destined to be very hard on a social or personal life. Poole does dish on ill-behaved passengers and the unrealistic expectations placed on flight attendants by some of the more egregious fliers but these stories are short and anecdotal compared to the tales of a flight attendant's lifestyle.

The memoir is breezy and conversational and it is clear that it evolved from blog posts as it reads like a string of stories one friend would tell another one about her job rather than a tightly threaded narrative. The chapters jump around from tales in the air to training and back again so it's definitely not a chronological story and the anecdotes contained in the same chapters are sometimes only very tangentially connected. Some of the more technical aspects of bidding trips or seniority or being on reserve were a bit convoluted and not particularly necessary for a layman's audience as they were just confusing (and to be fair, probably every bit equally as confusing for the new flight attendant). But overall the book was humorous and offered cynical-about-the-public me more affirmation that people are demanding, selfish, and generally not nice, especially to anyone working in a service industry. That Poole and her fellow co-workers can keep their tempers in the face of some of the worst ingratitude and unpleasantness is a credit to them. And I'm glad that she can laugh about it in hindsight and that she invites us to laugh about it with her.

For more information about Heather Poole and the book visit her website, Facebook, or follow her on Twitter. Follow the rest of the blog tour or look at the amazon reviews for others' thoughts and opinions on the book.

Thanks to Trish from TLC Book Tours and the publisher for sending me a copy of the book for review.

1 comment:

  1. I think the ability to keep one's sense of humor is VITAL to a career as a flight attendant. :)

    Thanks for being on the tour!


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