I’ve always remembered it like it was yesterday, but with the commercials for ABC’s new show “Pan Am” showing every time I turn on the morning news, the time Pam and I decided we wanted to be stewardesses has really been on my mind.
We were in junior high and thought that would be the most exciting, glamorous thing we could possibly do in a few years – and it would be our ticket out of Arkansas. Granted, neither of us had flown anywhere at this point, but we knew we’d be naturals.
We practiced walking gracefully, dipping down with a pretend tray, and saying, “Coffee, tea or milk?” We knew we were naturals. (Um, actually, we were wrong. Knowing how we turned out, one of us, at the least, would’ve gotten fired for slapping a rambunctious man in those old sexist days, but we were young and naive at the time.)
But we also knew there were height and weight requirements, and I’d stalled out at 5 feet 3 ⅜ inches. We knew that was a concern because we’d heard the standard requirement was 5 feet 4 inches.
(I actually made it to 5 feet 4 inches sometime after I’d turned 18, but we were in college by then.)
So we spent the better part of one summer afternoon in Pam’s kitchen calling every airline in the book checking on requirements for stewardess training. I have no idea if 800-numbers or any equivalent were available back then, so I also have no idea what we might have done to her parents’ phone bill. Oops. We even called Quantas in Australia.
Remember these were the old sexist late ’60s when women were still expected mainly to conform to certain standards of pretty and compliant – and we struck out at every airline. I was too short. And there ended our dream of seeing the world as stewardesses. Pam would never have done it without me – we were a team.
As I said, it probably turned out for the best because both of us would be better at flying the plane than putting up with crap from travelers. But it was a great dream while it lasted.
We’ve both managed to travel to faraway places and travel is still my favorite thing in the world. Truth be told, the whole memory still makes me a little wistful.
How cool to make a living saying, “Come fly with me me …”