Before working in marketing, I had a string of “strange” jobs. I’ve worked on a ship, caddied at golf tournaments and worked as an airhostess. I really enjoyed my time as cabin crew in the 80’s working for a medium sized airline, flying to Lapland one day and to Los Angeles another day!
So many funny stories happened over the years and my non-flying friends often tried to persuade me to write them down, so here you are; two of my favourite funny stories that I’d like to share with you.
I particularly remember a flight we used to have from Copenhagen to Helsinki. This flight, instead of being non-stop, used to land in the coastal Finnish city of Turku before continuing to its final destination, Helsinki. Now for some reason, a lot of passengers, especially non-Finnish, weren’t aware of this quick stop in Turku, so it was quite common that passengers got off the plane mistakenly in Turku.
And that is exactly what happened on this particular flight, two Japanese men in Business Class got off the plane, thinking it was Helsinki. Luckily ground personnel at Turku airport spotted their mistake and returned them to the plane just before we closed the cabin doors for take off! The two men fell into their seats shaken and visibly shocked over what had just happened, realising they nearly got stranded in a strange city! “Miss, Miss” they shouted for me, their eyes totally bewildered, “Where are we???” Now, this is when I, for some totally inexplicable reason decided to try and pronounce Turku (Too-r-koo) in a more foreign friendly way than normal to accommodate the Japanese tourists. To this day, I don’t know what possessed me to do it, but all I can remember is the two Japanese men screaming horrified:” We’re in Turkey????” What happened after that is blurry to me. That is because the entire cabin of passengers, me and the Japanese men included laughed so much that our eyes filled with tears!
My other memory is of a New York flight where I tried to communicate with an old Turkish gentleman. He did not speak any English and unfortunately Turkish wasn’t one of the seven languages I speak, so I had to find other ways to communicate with him. He managed successfully to order his drink (luckily beer in Turkish was fairly easy to understand) but when we came to the evening meal, that’s when the problem started. You see, on long haul flights there were two main course choices, this time they were beef and fish. I turned up with the trolley and tried to ask him which alternative he would prefer, but we got nowhere. I also realised that by removing the foil and showing him the food, he would still not be able to assess what meat it was and he could end up with something his religion would not approve of him eating. So there I am, in front of the entire Economy Class, with 200 pairs of eyes watching me, when I suddenly realised what to do. I pointed at the fish course and started doing swimming movements, then I pointed at the beef and said: “Moo!” The gentleman’s face instantly lit up and he started making swimming movements so I promptly served him the fish course, both of us very pleased with my ability to improvise. That is when I heard a loud American woman’s voice echo in the cabin: “I’ll have the Moo, please!” Needless to say, the entire Economy Class cabin howled with laughter!
Back in the galley after dinner, me and my cabin crew colleagues were going through all the main course options we could have been serving on the flight and realised that this could work in the future, I mean a baah, oink or chicken noises would all be very descriptive! “Ah, but what would you have done if it was reindeer?” asked my colleagues, a meat we did indeed serve on New York flights. “That’s easy” I said, “I would’ve started humming Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer!”
So there you go, when there is a will, there is a way, as they say! What language problem?