There are many reasons our passengers would be a bit tipsy by the time they boarded. Some would "put it away" at lightening speed before a flight.
Perhaps there were celebrations, fear of flying, bad habit, or coming from a party where they imbibed too much, who knows!
This is one story of a flight that made 30 minutes seem like an eternity! For those who have read my past blogs, you know that I came from a very cloistered Bible belt family. Needless to say, there was no alcohol in the family. Nor was there any alcohol allowed in any of our acquaintances homes-- at least not that I knew of! So-- knowing how to handle someone who was inebriated was LOW on my ability scale!
North Central Airlines had just changed our uniforms from double breasted suits to short dresses, white plastic high boots, and polo hats! I tell you this because it's an important part of the story!
I was on a Convair 580 turbo prop- heading to somewhere in Wisconsin from Detroit. As the passengers boarded, one particular passenger stood out. He was a fairly large man, I'd say over 6 foot and portly. And his face was reddish with a strange grin. Once at the top of the stairs I smelled the booze. ( Back then we didn't refuse a passenger for being inebriated. In fact, I'm not sure we could refuse to serve them. We were suppose to "charm" them into having coffee or something non alcohol- a talent I had not yet acquired. )
The tall man with the red face and silly grin stood at the top of the stairs. As I greeted him he threw his arms around me in a big bear hug! Oh My! His friend was behind him, telling him to let go of the "dolly" and move along. Dolly??! LOL!
The flight was pretty full, that much I remember. All went fairly smoothly until my service began. I had changed from my boots to my heels, took off my hat, put on my serving smock, and proceeded to serve beverages. The inebriated man got up to go to the bathroom. By this time his traveling companion was already asleep.
I was about halfway up the isle, serving from the back where the galley was, working my way forward toward the front. That's when I heard it!!
"Helloooo! I'm a Stewardess! Aren't I pretty!!??"
It was the drunk! He had on my hat, my boots (that obviously didn't fit), and had a cup holder serving tray in his hand! (Our serving trays looked like artist's palate- shaped to hold cups and fit the hand.)
He proceeded to walk up the isle, imitating me. "Hello! Do you want a drink? Cute hat! How are you today? Have a drink! Have some peanuts!" He was giggling the whole time. Some of the passengers were laughing too, thinking this man was pretty funny. He WAS funny---sort of. How do I get him out of my things and into his seat?!
I tried the "charm" approach. I said something like "That's funny! Thank you! But I have to serve, so you'll have to take your seat! Can I get you some coffee? Can I have my things back, please" The man turned to the passengers and repeated every word I had just said, in a high squeaky voice! More laughter from the passengers! Oh God! Now what!
I tried the "MOM" approach, telling him to remove my thing and sit down! "Oh oh! Isn't she cute when she's mad!! (giggle giggle)" slurred the man.
Next I tried waking his friend to help me. He opened one eye and told me to "deal" with it. Drat! No help there! By now only half the passengers were served, and the seatbelt sign had just been turned on! I again, now pleading this time, told him we were getting ready to land so sit down, PLEASE! I then slid past him and made the seat belt announcement. The man was still standing, so I called the cockpit.
When I told the First Officer the man was wearing some of my uniform and was vey drunk, I heard a muffled laugh in the background. Was that the Captain? Did everyone think this was funny? The First Officer came back to the cabin.
When my drunk saw the first officer he was still standing in my hat and boots, serving tray in hand! He proceeded to salute the pilot, who in turn started to laugh! Geeze! Am I the only one not laughing here?! It was interesting that one word from the pilot got this man in his seat. The pilot said "Sit!", and so the drunk did. The pilot removed the hat and boots from the passenger, handed me my things (grinning as he did so) and returned to the cockpit!
The bugger had tried to zip up my boots when he put them on- thereby tearing the zippers loose at the seam. Thanks a lot! (Grrr!) Sigh!
So, landing announcement made, the landing done, and now it was time to say Goodbye to the passengers. Everyone deplaned----that is, everyone except the drunk and his friend. Both were fast asleep! Or were they passed out?! I couldn't tell! I had had enough. In those days the cockpit door was open when we deplaned passengers. But the pilots were busy. Now what? I motioned for the agent who was standing at the bottom of the stairs to come up. I explained the situation. The agent woke the two men and asked them to deplane.
As the inebriated gentleman passed me by, he stopped, burped, and told me I needed to lighten up! What could I say?! Looking back, perhaps I should've just enjoyed the show he put on. Most of the passengers did. I was more concerned with doing my beverage service.
Now the drama/ trauma began. As the drunk passenger started down the stairs, he slipped or maybe fell forward. on the top few steps! He grabbed the stair rail, but his momentum and weight caused him to catapulted over the rail, landing on his head on the tarmac! Oh My God! I ran back and grabbed the First Aid kit, grabbing a blanket and pillow on the way back to the front door. I didn't know if he was bleeding- or what his injury might be, so I was prepared for whatever.
The agent who was at the bottom of the stairs when this man fell was now on his microphone, calling for medics. The mans friend didn't even notice what had happened and had kept walking into the airport! I ran down the stairs and knelt beside the fallen man. I tried to check for injuries, asking the man what hurt, etc. And when he open his eyes he grabbed me, pulled me on top of him and proceeded to give me one LONG kiss!! Here I am, struggling to get away from this man, trying to loosen his grip without causing any further injuries, and secretly wanting to slap the snot out of him!
The agent was no help! I heard him say "Oh My God" and then laugh! Thanks for the help, buster! I was fully aware that my short dress was probably hiking up to my waist line! Damn this man! Damn the Jack Daniels- or what ever it was that he was drinking !
What saved me was the ambulance! It pulled up in the middle of this very uncomfortable embrace and kiss! The paramedics sort of preyed me loose and stood me back on my feet! One asked if I was giving mouth to mouth, or did I need to get a room! Was everyone a comic?!
Evidently there were no injuries-- other than my pride, my torn boots, and a bump on the man's head.
Oh my! What a day! I vowed to keep inebriated passengers at arms length, ran up the stairs and used mouth wash to kill any germs this guy had just passed along-- and then realized I needed to fill out a very lengthy "incident report"! Was this day ever going to end??!!
Our flight was delayed coming home. The passengers on the return flight were worried about their connections in Detroit! But God Bless the Captain, who got on the P.A mid flight and explained our "not well" passenger had an accident, and we were required to care for him until the paramedics arrived.
Years later this incident seemed funnier than it did at the time. And I had yet another story to tell. Meanwhile, experience lead to my better handling folks who over imbibed- and the Airline industry was better at allowing us to curb the drinking onboard to some degree. There were some agents that still allowed inebriated passengers to board, just to get rid of them. But not all.
So that's the story of my crazed and crazy drunk who wanted to be a Stewardess!
Life is indeed an adventure! And a drunk who wanted to walk a mile in my boots was an adventure indeed!
Until next time, have a great day!