A job well done

After weeks of hectic preparation, the end was in sight. My daughter and I could now begin our long flight to Boston to be with my granddaughter when her first-born arrived. The scheduled time for departure was 3 am. We had to be in the airport by 12 midnight and we left home at 10.30 pm. During the long ride to the airport, we were too tired to indulge in conversation.

Unloading our baggage, we found to our dismay that one suitcase had developed a crack. Transferring its contents to another suitcase and turning the damaged one into hand-baggage took us some time, but we managed to achieve this in good time. Check-in over, we went to the lounge to refresh ourselves.

Here we came to know that the flight was delayed due to technical reasons. The call for boarding came at last. At the door, we were welcomed by the smiling crew. Bleary eyed and exhausted as we were, we could hardly appreciate their well-rehearsed and plastic smiles. The preliminaries over, the plane took off. A well-groomed and smiling hostess approached us and asked what drink we would appreciate. A glass of champagne, perhaps? Sounded quite a fitting start to our particular journey.

I watched her as she went about her duties. There was little else to occupy me. The books I had packed were now in check-in baggage, the TV shows tedious, and the view outside just white banks of scudding clouds. Contrary to popular perception, plane trips are boring and enervating experiences; but here was a person who used her personal enthusiasm to make it enjoyable for others. Up and down the aisle she went, smiling, serving and soothing frayed tempers.

The couple just in front were dour and demanding. I detected fleeting expressions of weariness on her face, but masking it admirably, she continued her efforts to make them comfortable. Each passenger made a choice from the menu card and these were carefully noted. Pushing carts laden with food with seeming ease, she almost magically drew out the food and served it on snow-white cloths she had laid out earlier. Now came a lull, allowing the somnolent to doze. A couple of hours later, she was back, looking refreshed, and ready to serve tea and coffee.

There are those who regard the job of the air-hostess a glamorous one. They are always well-dressed and fly to exotic places. Others regard them as glorified waitresses, working at unearthly hours, far away from home. Who is right? In reality, this is just another job that demands dedication when the going is hard.

When I stepped out of the plane at the end of the journey, I clasped her hands in gratitude. She reacted with a happy smile. As I walked away, I recalled Sir Visvesvaraya’s words, “Your work may be only to sweep a railway crossing, but you must keep it so clean that no other crossing in this world is as clean as yours.”

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A job well done

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