Book Review: Cruising Attitude, by Heather Poole

Right on the heels of my Audio Mo challenge success, well so-so that is, I’ve learned through a blogger I met on Twitter via AudioMo of another challenge that might well be more up my alley. This one, hash tagged #31WriteNow, dares its participants to write a blog post every day for the month of August. I have absolutely no idea if I can live up to that kind of commitment these days, and especially given that I’m starting class and have some kind of job, no matter how tenuous the latter may be at the moment. But, I can always use the stimulation of the attempt.
I’ve cashed it in on this week regarding the day job, opting to take tomorrow off and work on some more productive things. We did nearly nothing all of this week, but have some hope that things will begin to revive next Monday. We’re just having to pound through the summer doldrums.
My section partner didn’t show up today either, meaning I had no one to talk to. So I decided to start Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama, and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet, by Heather Poole.
A well-known flight attendant via Twitter and other social media forums, I’ve followed Poole for almost 4 years now. But upon already reading about a quarter of this book in one sitting, I can say that I hadn’t known as much as I thought about what her job really entailed.
Her tales begin with a couple of fairly recent stories about passengers experiencing medical issues onboard and the measures taken to assist them. Some were humorous, and others were sad. With these, Poole immediately establishes in the reader some of the wild emotional swings experienced by one who engages in this line of work.
In the following chapters, she takes us through her journey into being a flight attendant, noting that this was initially meant to be a short job while she awaited her bigger career as, well something. Just as so many of us young folk struggle with, Poole was having a hard time figuring out just what she’d wanna do.
After an adventure-filled stint with a small, very low budget carrier, she managed to make her jump to the big dogs of the sky. This involved a move to New York City that required quick adjustment to a life that she’d not anticipated and while building a friendship with a southerner who was also adjusting to the flight attendant role.
I obviously have a ways to go. But I’m sure that if her descriptions of intense training at a flight attendant academy, preparation for and survival of life in a chaotic Queens-area crashpad, and encounters with intimidating co-workers as she got started are any indication, her remaining stories will be a lot of fun.
I particularly enjoy Poole’s writing style. It gives the impression that one is sitting across the table and asking questions about how she got to this point. It’s all very conversational. As one who can’t get enough of travel stories, see my enjoyment of the Betty In the Sky with A Suitcase podcast, I unquestionably love this book. This book also brings home what I often hear attendants say: their job is about more than just serving drinks and pretzles. It’s about keeping us safe when we choose to be suspended far above the ground in a metal tube, and any attendant worth his or her salt really takes that seriously. If you check it out, you’ll see what I mean.

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Bugs Are Back?

NBA? Oh no ya don’t. Y’all can’t do this to me! My heart break is only now starting to heal.
I’m old enough to remember when the Queen City was first granted its own pro basketball team. Actually because I’m no historian, I’m not sure if it was the first pro team Charlotte had ever had. I know there was a team called the Carolina Cougars, but I think they played in Greensboro.
Anyway, the excitement was palpable. Charlotte, on the national map!
We had, have, and always will love our fine tradition of college basketball in the great state of North Carolina.
But somehow this was different. It confirmed our up-and-coming status as a real urban center and made us feel more competitive with our archrival Atlanta.
In those blissful early days, we didn’t really care if our team went 27-55. The building, the 23,000-seat Charlotte Coliseum, was filled to capacity and jumping every night. That building’s natural nickname was the hive, and it sure sounded like swarms had taken over.
Remember short Mugsy, full of heart? The flamboyant Larry Johnson (LJ!) and Alonzo Morning?
I happened to be in the building where Morning is said to have made his Charlotte debut, the Milton Road Boys and Girls Club. The soda man had just stocked that machine inside of the chock full gym, and within 5 minutes we all had still warm drinks in our hands as we listened to ‘Zo speak.
As my cousin and I fully embraced sports, we’d initially listen to entire Hornets radio broadcasts starting perhaps an hour before the game and going till an hour or so after it.
If they happened to lose, we’d mope around for the rest of the evening. People would say “Snap out of it!” to which we’d reply “you just don’t understand”. And how could they?
The early 90s passed on by, and as we entered the middle of that decade some of the shine began to fade. Not that we in the city of Charlotte weren’t still big fans, but by this time we’d began to want a winner. It’s funny how quickly a playoff trip can spoil a fan base, isn’t it?
I moved on to a small town called Southern Pines North Carolina, and in an era before smartphones and ubiquitous Internet, I was forced to take in my beloved Hornets on an intermittent AM signal while attempting to avoid smashing myself repeatedly in the head with the Walkman I waved around. I still faithfully listened to every game, though.
Then came college and its myriad responsibilities. We joined the on-campus choir, and I was always a little sad when rehearsal occurred during a Hornets game. Never fear, that’s what the trusty recorder was for. If I could somehow avoid the score long enough, I’d just run back to my dorm room, hit rewind, and chill while the game replayed. The nice part about that was I could easily just skip the commercials.
And finally there was 2001. The once near-knighted George Shin and his chum Ray Woolridge, (probably not how his name is spelled but I don’t care) announced their intentions to relocate our team (OUR TEAM!) from the Queen City due to sagging interest. I’m sure it had more to do with them wanting to pad their bottom line, but then where is that not true in this world I suppose?
Players on that team stated that they fervently hoped they would not in fact leave Charlotte, and they played hard in order to try and make that happen. We advanced farther into the playoffs than any time before, sweeping the Miami Heat out of the first round and taking the Milwaukee Bucks all the way to the edge before going down in 7.
Oh man, that game six still makes me sad. We had a 10-point lead with like 5 minutes to go, and all we could do was watch helplessly as it slipped through our fingers. I remember ESPN Sport Center showing a kid in the lower rows crying his eyes out.
And that, in many ways, was the end of the Hornets’ tenure in our fine city. I think Charlotte was as eager to shirk the team as the team was to leave, as the city staged a vote to build a new arena that they knew would not pass. Then as soon as the team departed, they announced that they were building the arena anyway, and thus the league quickly granted us another team.
I went to that Bobcats season opener in 2004, with two of my cousins on a paratransit bus. It was kind of fun, as they opted to sit us down on the floor rather than in the way high up seats we had actually purchased. We ordered a pizza, placed the box down beside ourselves, took big cups of soda, and had fun making little old ladies nervous about our safety as we pranced around near the railings.
Unfortunately, the Cats have definitely not been able to capture that magic. I don’t really blame them though. Naturally, they’re dealing with an apathetic fan base and a lack of any really good players. Ok I kind of blame the ownership for that second issue, but, well.
Today, we at least put in a request to rename our team the Hornets, as New Orleans has abandoned it for the Pelicans (Pelicans?) It seems that if we are allowed the name change, it would not take effect until the 14-15 season.
Can a name really make a difference? I suppose not in and of itself it won’t. We’ll have to make a real go at building a team. But an example to which I have referred a lot is the Tampa Bay baseball team. They changed their name from the Devil Rays to just the Rays, and seemingly vaulted from being the butt of all jokes into the World Series overnight. So hey, who knows?

Intro Post: Old hats may wish to skip

So I realized that since I zapped that other blog, I no longer have an intro post. This means that I should try and come up with one, right? Well its as good a time as any to examine who I am, I guess. Those who’ve known me a long time might wish to skip this post, but maybe I can make it interesting for you, too.

I was born. I’m told the day dawned cold and rainy, but I’ve also been told that it was Friday, September 13, 1979. I know that last wasn’t possible, since the calendars say the 13th was on a Thursday that year. In any event, that kinda makes for a good story.

I have a rare genetic condition called Norrie disease, which results usually in total blindness from birth due to retinal detachment. It also causes progressive hearing loss, which has been the more adjustment requiring part of things for me. It’s all good though: I have not and will never let it stop me from doing the same crazy things I always do.

Hailing from the queen city of Charlotte, I grew up in a family of five sisters. For much of my early life, my only real male influence was my cousin who is about a year younger than my 33. My dad then came into my life during teen aged years, and he has certainly taught me a lot about what it means to be a good and honorable man. And anyone should know that one doesn’t have to donate sperm in order to be a good father.

I went to high school in a small town called Southern Pines NC, and while I complained at first about being out of the city, it was probably the best thing I had done to that point. It allowed me to find myself academically.

Eventually I returned to Charlotte to attend the major university there, going on to experience even greater academic success as a psychology major. What is it that they say about psych majors needing the most therapy?

After five aimless years just working in a sheltered workshop for blind folks in Charlotte and enjoying living with my cousin, I made the somewhat random decision to attend grad school. I did this at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where I attempted to complete an MS in rehabilitation counseling and psychology. Let’s just say all that academic prowess I thought I had pretty much went out of the window. The program was supposed to take two years to finish, but I clung to that raft as it got sucked down the raging river for almost three. It wasn’t a total waste, though. Is anything, it showed me how not to adequately prepare for such an expedition.

Is I do make another go of that, I know now that I need solid, definable goals. I’m still working those out, but part of me is longing to do something in a journalistic capacity, as I had started to consider shortly after undergrad ended. I’m not really sure how to begin taking that from dream to occurrence, though. Just doing a lot of thinking.

And now I reside in Durham NC, where I again work at a sheltered workshop. The nice thing about this one though is that there is real potential for promotion, should I choose to take that path. We shall see how it all plays out.

Of course, there’s more to me than I could easily capture in one post. If you continue to read, you’ll see lots of stuff about books I like, my favorite sports teams, (I’m all about North Carolina except for the duke Blue Devils), music I love, and not surprisingly, the places I go. Feel free to chime in with questions or suggestions whenever you like. And most of all, enjoy.