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HA! You thought I was done. Well I'm not, so get used to it. I have more to share; Thirteen plus years at least. I could even start back at the beginning. Begin with reservations. Five Gringas, twenty plus Cubianas and a few Mexicanos, Mostly management, of course. It was ever thus. Yes I know this makes little sense to you but what do you expect when I only have one hundred words to share the moment? Lets see there was Fortuna and Mannie. Always fighting for the windows, open or shut because Fortuna was always
So where should I start? At 500 Fifth Ave, the 26th Floor? Five Gringas, twenty plus Cubanos, and a few Mexicanos, mostly management of course,
we made it work
cuz we were in Manhattan. We worked for the Airlines, a foreign flag carrier, and besides a paycheck, working in Manhattan, we will have all the free travel we can arrange
once we pass probation.
All we have to do is memorize the names of the Top Honchos,
the city codes of all our destinations, the OAG, TIM, and GreenwichMeanTime, and fares calculated by milage.
Xenia, Xida, Lener Villalobos, Fausto, Humberto, Vilma, I can not make these names up. Each with their own distinct personality and story. While I was reading Shogun every free moment in the apartment, on the subway, breaks, between calls I was slowly seeing the correlation to the English who thought the Japanese were crude all the while the Japanese thought the English were
and my own little Northern meets Southern Hemisphere culture clash. I wasn't prejudice, but ahh did I learn, we are all prejudice and have to open our hearts and minds. There's a whole WORLD out there....
THE TELEX MACHINE
Part teletype with ticker tape keypunch, antique typewriter keys and a metal body that could not be moved once placed in the spot. It could be mistaken for R2D2's Great Grandfather. A Clear Lucite Face Plate that had to be kept shut to drown out the constant rat-a-tat-tat once a type was complete. Dial Mexico to send. QTE Favor avisar llegar vlo 400 22 Junio ETD MEX ETA JFK UNQTE. Little yellow dots snow down on the floor. Hey there will be overtime to call all the passengers to advise the delay. Who's got seniority? Not me.
The Fire Exit Stairs
All our private toking breaks were held there. Whoever had their breaks at the same time could sneak out past the ladies bathroom quietly open the door and sit on the stairs. Usually our supply was provided by our "Jewish American Princess"or her best friend Robin. When we returned from our break all hungry giggles to wire up old style large headset with giant jacks and take reservations, answer questions, and add to waitlists. We thought it was a secret society but looking back anyone going to the ladies room had to hear us smoke.
The Gypsy Tearoom was still across the street when I first arrived at 500 Fifth Ave. The NYC Library with the two white lions guarding the front steps just down the street. Lunches were at Steak and Brew, Deli-O or Zum Zum. Every day was an adventure, a party, a cocktail. We didn't go to cocktail parties, we went to cocktails. Manuel Duran jefe de ventos de NYC wanted to be an opera star made sure he was the star of Aeromexico and that had to be a difficult task amidst so many colourful characters.
"CHEW NOT paid to thought!"
Manuel Duran and Jamie Montel, Fricke n Frack, Twiddle Dumm and Dee, two of the three Stooges, what a pair. I say this with
They spent a night in the pokie. They scuffled on a LI Train with two suits from the burbs. Words were said. A briefcase to the jaw, then a brawl. How much was bail? Jamie was back in Mexico when we made our first trip. Stoned in Ciudad de Mexico. Lou and Raul DeMarco, n me driving around La Reforma in Jamie's coche. Now that was a night for paranoia.
Hejole, pinche madre Mexico!
You have not spent an evening, an evening to remember until you spend the night dancing and drinking with an Aeromexico crew to celebrate Christmas or was it Independence Day? This of course was back in the days when drinking and partying at work, after work was not only considered okay, It was expected. Constantino Trejo, MISTER BAZZZZZ, Manuel Duran, Velma and the whole pack of reservations all singing,
New York, New York
in ENGLISH with latin accents and we finish the night with a very melancholy chorus of
"Why Mr Trejo where is the lens for your glasses?-
Arele Chavez, a little wisp of a girl.
The Queen of Air Kisses.
Where was she from, Venezuela, YES. I thought I was brave to come to the big city from the buckeye state. Coming all the way from Sur America that's moxie. The Arele Chavez story I recall involves the JAP, that's our little Jewish American Princess from Queens, and Lou in, Acapulco or Ixtapa? There was major high- jinx with a foolish young man and a rent-a-car. The girls being out in the Pacific too deep for Arele who tried to keep her footing, her dignity, and her suit.
It was such fun to watch the duel between the always freezing Fortuna, the Sephardic Jew from Egypt, who ate cucumbers for lunch and had to leave every Friday by 3:30pm to get home before sundown and the Hot Blooded, no doubt, menopausal, Manny Rodriguez. They were a constant battle of "Window Up. TOO HOT! Window down. TOO COLD!" Now I would side with Manny. I'm sure It's TOO Hot!. Manny had a marvelously sympathetic voice over the fone. NO ONE would EVER imagine that the entire time she was talking she was making Chevy Chase faces at the receiver.
Raul DeMarco from where in Sur America? Venezuela? Argentina? I can not remember. He was always a good tempered individual and he seemed to know the right amount of personal conversation for work. Even when he was making fun of the Jefes he did it with finesse. One year he gave me a bottle of Argentine wine. ~Vino Tinto~. I do believe it was the best red wine I ever had. I also remember a story of his nursing mother trying to wean him at two and him dragging a chair over to his vertical conversing mother for a snack.
The Black and White Magic wars were conducted by Lener Villalobos & Fausto, I think it was Pacheco? That was
some Amazing thing to watch
AS the two of them vied for Head Supervisor Position. Both conducting their chants and curses. Lener had such unique names for her kids, Hercules & Aphrodite and the like. Lener took her magic seriously. She even went to a Psychic Fair in Ft Wayne Indiana. Went to dinner with Gram & Tap. Gram forever after referred to her as "that delightful young girl-, which always confused me because to me Lener was not young.
Jonni Lima, the best advise I ever received from this Brasilian seasoned airline careerist.....-be careful which relatives you kill off... you may need them again to fly home." Great advise that can't be ignored. I heard that he and his boyfriend retired in Vermont or somewhere like that. Ever the antique lover he could never pass by a flea market. He would have bogus "estate sales"to get rid of the overflow furniture and mark "SOLD"on all items he planned to keep. A sad demise for his BF, niece and him with a fiery ten tons of peanut butter.
The Grand Exalted Emperor of Northeastern United States and Canada, was a little man in spirit but GRANDE OF EGO. If what they say is true; one overcompensates for their inadequacies he had a lot to overcompensate for. Proclamations of direct blood lines from Espana. Yet everyone knew he was Puerto Ricano born and bred. Delusions of Grandeur, Megalomania and yet he rose in power like Hitler. I thought of him as the Mexican Mafias henchman. He who wouldn't shake hands, He who must have spent every waking moment plotting something. At what level of hell does he reside now?
If Life is a Banquet then my "Salad Days"were in NYC. Brother what a salad.....More a Smorgasborg of events, people, cultures and movement. The Aeromexico Manhattan Days were spent in reservations, Jack Lalane Health Clubs just about every night. And there were studio dance classes at Carnegie Hall. Hey yea, I performed at Carnegie Hall, Cool! I can honestly say that! Of course, cocktails at the Biltmore seated in plush maroon armchairs. Why didn't I ever get to the Algonquin? Now I know why my father smiled wryly and shook his head. Is youth always wasted on the young?
I bid for "Passenger Sales and Service Agent APO JFK"and get it. What have I done? Taking Eddie Franchanssini's spot. Called him at 9pm at night to ask what I've gotten into and looking for a way out. Best advise I ever got, "You're already a Passenger Sales and Service Agent APO JFK now just do it." And then there was Tague who's favourite comment was always, "Yep that's what I used to tell my parents... say in school... tell my teachers...
ALL I want to be IS a Passenger Sales and Service Agent - Airport WHEN I GROW UP!-
The first day at JFK would be best if forgot but scrape a little at my cerebellum and it will
ALL come back.
What is one to do if they have had chronic motion sickness when riding in a car since childhood? This would apply if one had to take a train and hour bus ride to work also. And no matter how excited one might be and how important one knows it is
NOT to get sick sometimes these things happen.
Also note to the next generation: "Straw bags ARE P-O-R-O-U-S, but One can survive vomit on their person.-
Roesslein & Sodowski , Germany and Poland all over again. One only did things out of the
KINDNESS OF THEIR GOOD HEART......
And the other in a state of perpetual disgruntled exasperation.... If I could have a dollar for every
"YOU PEOPLE"I could pay off some bills and still order a pitcher of Margaritas! John Boulting had to have modeled his Bertram Tracepurcel character on Roesslein when he wrote the "I'm All Right Jack"Series. Do you suppose it's true as Maragarita said ...his middle name is Helmut? So many nick names so little time.
The Concorde will do.
We all had nicknames. Me-Too, Minny Mouse, The Mouth, Pinche Gringa, The Wall, Cobra, Concorde. And many more I can't recall or don't know. My personal favourite story involves a photo of A Tall Jungle Larry type guy with a large cobra wrapped around his body. The youthful novios always pranking drew a huge nose on Jungle Larry and Glasses on the Cobra and posted it on the wall. Gigio said to no one in particular, "I'm gonna get blamed for that."And surely he did the moment the Concorde and the Cobra returned and the flight was called
Well I've been proof reading this month of "Aeromexico past-. My descriptions read like Turner Kendall in "The Morning After-. I sound like some kind of Klan anthropologist. Allow me this disclaimer before I continue. I'm shouting to the cosmos.. "You've got me all wrong lady.
I'm not a bigit.
They are all full of malice and ill will. These descriptions are neither bad nor good.... Merely observations. And now I have this Disappearing Magic Trick I do. "One, Thank You for reading this. Two, Its been great traveling down memory lane with you. Three, Good Night Wherever you are.-
Stallone Deli was located on in Jamaica Queens, and they had some great deli fare and Italian sandwiches. I was especially fond of their Angle Finger Cookies. I can't remember the Italian word now. And their canollis always great! And I think Stallone is long gone. At least I can't find it on the internet. I tried to find it. But I remember most Eddie Franchessini telling how he hated being tapped to go pick-up the order for the gang. No matter who collected the money he still ended up paying $10 in tax! I wonder what happened to him....
You know what I loved most about working at the APO? It was being around the aircrafts. All that metal curved into aerodynamic forms. Like the TWA terminal, it's shaped to symbolize flight. Where else could you see so many planes from so many countries? Carrying thousands of people around the globe. We flew DC-10's DC-08's and DC09's. Out on the tarmac at 400pm scores of aircraft in line for take-off. Fuel exhaust waving in the heat. I always loved boarding time. When everyone journeys closer to their destination. Full Flight! 152 passengers and 8 crew 160 SOULS ON BOARD.
Souls on Board
How cool is that?
SOB's not sons of britches, S-O-U-L-S on Board.
Metaphysics meets science.
And I barely get the weight and balance finger test. But I learn the formulas and in some vague way I can see how distribution of the weight on board effects the Lift and Drag. Add the fuel and thrust then its up to the flight engineer to find the lift-off point. Bernoulli's principal is that as the velocity of a fluid increases, its pressure decreases. Air is fluid there's your answer. Air is like water, with the right balance you float.
What's your PAYLOAD? That's the whole reason we are where we are today cuz the payloads were never big enough. Well that's their story. They'll stick to it; the Bean Counters and Honchos. Saul Gonado, slight 40ish man with a bad toupee trainor for the Twinkies in reservations. The first thing we learned in training was the names of all the top Honchos in Mexico. Then I thought it was a joke but now I see the value know the names of the Honchos but know the names of the janitors too. They have the keys to the supply closet.
Danny Trejo's Weigh and balance training. First the finger test. Place your left forefinger vertically in the middle on your horizontal right finger, that's "Weight and Balance-. Don't forget 2.2046kilos to 1 pound. Not just 2.2 to 1lb. The formula is 2.2046 you might as well learn it, it's the law and you will need it constantly converting pounds to kilos and kilos to pounds. We humans make things so complicated. There are several Danny Trejo stories but what I always remember when Danny Trejo comes into my mind was the time we were sent to Stallone's to pick-up dinner.
Doofy Danny Trejo with his ElvisCostello Black-Cokebottle Glasses and I are in AM's vehicle leaving the perimeter to pick-up food for the gang. Danny had a bad habit of drooling around any attractive female, I think it was involuntary. It was the first time we were alone together. But he was driving and I could converse politely. Let me turn on the radio, music would be good. Over the speaker comes a serious female voice in a German accent saying "The male puts his penis in the females vagina...."It was the first time I ever heard Dr Ruth also.
The planes on tower. How many wheelchairs do we have? Any transits without visa? Better do the Gate 22 walk. It will be on the ground before you know it. The SobreCargo Mayor will open the door and all that food and jet exhaust will hit you in the face. They will hand you the paperwork and the blocktime. Radio it in. Then 200 plus citizens of the world will push their way through. Dazed faces and tired bodies marching down the halls like lemmings. Some days its like a well-oiled machine. Others its like total Chaos in the UN.
The Wheelchair Capers began innocently enough. Everyone stationed at the IAB had WCHR requests, on arrival and departures. There would be agents assigned to handled the wheelchair passengers but the airlines were the first to invent Ãƒâ€šÃ¢â‚¬Ëœmulti-tasking' so often even before you finished your wheelchair assignment you're expected to help elsewhere. Your wheelchair was abandoned. Abandoned wheelchairs became fair game. We got so brazen that Maintenance was chopping them down and "repainting"them. Till an agent from SAS showed up saying he believed we had their wheelchair. There after we were considered the usual suspects when a wheelchair went missing.
I remember a Christmas, one of many, skeleton staff stuck at the airport over the Christmas Holidays. I'm not sure exactly who was there but I know it was myself Donora, [more on Donora later], Roger Jimenez , maybe Mario Garcia ... who else I'm not sure but we were ALONE in Operations at the East Wing of the IAB. The plane was surely delayed but we made our own party with homemade tape All Disco ofcourse. We made a Conga Line carrying the boom box and cha-cha-cha'd all thru the baggage area and out onto the runway. Ole! Ole!
A few thoughts on food at the airport. Of course most everything was supplied by HOST. It all tasted the same, was overpriced and out of our budget. Plus we were stuck there for so many hours, so many days, no holidays off. We just had our celebrations at work. Showers, Birthdays and Anniversaries too. Usually pretty good food. Pepe Medina's guacamole recipe, Mapi's Ropa Viejos, Ernie Darquea's Cerviche, Ayala's pastales & Coqueto, Teri's Domican Pastales, Alagria's Bread Pudding, La Pinche Gringa's Rum Cake and Oh Fernando's gift bottle of brandied cherries. We sampled just a few too many...for breakfast.
When I was a freshman in HS in that ugly duckling stage we had career day and one of the few careers that interested me was flying. And there was a real live Stewardesses. I don't think they were called Flight Attendants yet. But I remember thinking I could never do that because I wasn't pretty enough.
But I was an Aeromexico Passenger Sales and Service Agent Airport
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times....Then the bastards did a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Honorable Tina l. Brozman presiding in the New York Court House.
The Tip Jar