By Sydney Crowe
Flight Manager. That's a tough job. For me, I would rather be an innocent passenger on a plane than the head of Flight Management. My job is to ensure that every single flight goes smoothly. So far-hoping to not jinx myself-I haven't had any flights crash. But then again, I haven't had much of an experience. Just a nervous 20-year-old girl who worked here as a flight-attendant in college is depended on every morning, afternoon, and night to delay, cancel, and allow planes to fly. Almost 100 flights a day, but at least being in Miami, Florida includes sunny and bright weather pretty much year round. My life has taken a huge detour from college and taken a more serious (less costly) toll. At least I kind of like the job, and being the leader isn't all too bad. Plus I know every trick in the book: snow=deicing, blizzard=cancel, rain=whatever, and catastrophic/severe weather= I'm not quite sure. I've never had to know anything about that-until the storm.
On the day of the storm my walky-talky was my best friend. It was the only way I could communicate to the passengers, attendants, assistants, but most of all I learned through the walky-talky about the big thunderstorm that was approaching us with a straight path to our airport.
"Katelyn! Do you copy?" I heard come in through my headpiece. The voice was one of Merideth's, a new-coming Flight Assistant.
"I copy. What's your problem Mer?"
"Um....there is something on the weather I think you should know. There's a big....uh....thunderstorm coming straight for us." Merideth sounded extra-stressed for her first week on the job, and I don't think she really liked talking to me anyways.
I responded very quickly, "Um ok. Don't worry, we'll figure this out."
From my point in the airport at 3:00 A.M., there way very little noise. Only a few delayed passengers lie in the seats. Immediately, I felt panicked with about a million questions in my head. What to say? What to do? Cancel or leave early? Evacuation? No, evacuation wouldn't help. These people would have to stay here, and hopefully stay calm. Although thunderstorms are very common here, Mer sounded like this storm was going to be bad. I decided to turn on the Miami News.
"..understorm is very big. Be expecting a huge amount of hail, 50 mile per hour winds, and a particularly abnormal huge amount of lighting. Miami Airport- I wish y'all some luck. Stay safe everyone and don't worry about flying anywhere!"
I was angry, so so so angry! Well, also glad that she told people not to fly, but what about planes coming here? Right now! I decided to call off all flights entering our airport.
"Kevin, I need you to call off all planes coming here. They either need to delay, cancel, or go to the Tallahassee AirStation."
"Ok. What time is the storm coming?" Kevin said this very professionally since he's an old-timer here.
"I'm thinking around the whole day pretty much. Do most of the Flight Assistants and Pilots know about this storm?"
"Yes, I'll cancel the flights and report to all the assistants and pilots around here, you just worry about those people." He knew I was better with people than mechanics. I'll just make sure every person gets a room-or a chair or two- to sleep in tonight. It's going to be a long day.
By now, it was 7:00 A.M. or really "rush hour" time begins. The rush hour is usually from 7:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M. Most planes take off and arrive between then. A few planes have been able to leave from our night shift, but now all planes have been stored. They will not be taking off anytime today. And for those people who want to board TODAY and leave TODAY are going to be the hardest part of this process. I can just sense the elephant in the room. No one will say anything yet, but it will come-and then it started.
"How may I help you?" I say as nicely as possible to the long line of waiting-to-complain people.
You see, once one person decides to complain, everyone else just assumes it's fine to mimic the others. So now the line is up to almost 100 people waiting for satisfaction that they won't be getting.
"Yes, um, you see, I have to be in Boston by tomorrow. I have a HUGE meeting for my BIG job tomorrow. Tomorrow!" this particular woman's story was very exaggerated and just plain stupid.
"We could possibly have you there by....(I stopped and searched frantically for another flight to Boston) by 3:00 tomorrow!"
"Well, um, ok then. That's fine with me."
"You're very wel...." And that's when the lightning started. The lights went out. Screams.
Everyone screamed. Of course they would. In the event of distress most would scream (even me), but I'm the authority figure here; I cannot scream.
"I CAN'T SEE!"
"WHERE IS MY SON?"
I immediately turn the intercom on without thinking.
"Attention passengers. We have been stripped of most electricity. I repeat: most electricity! Anyone with a flashlight or phone please help unplug all cords connected to the wall outlets. With the left over electricity..... (I quickly checked if only 10,000 volts would power what we needed- sure?) we can power the hotel rooms and 3 computers to book the rooms. Everyone please follow the red signs until you see the Hotel Service sign. Please line up there in an orderly fashion. Thank you!"
I know what happens next. Frantic running, pushing, screaming, and cat noises occur when they run the sign and push forward in line. The chaos won't stop until everyone is relieved of dark. It will definitely be quite a while.
After about 3 hours of "I'm not paying for that! This is all your fault's I was completely finished with all of the rooms. Done. I quickly fell asleep right there in my small black flight chair. When I awoke to "thunder" I saw my roommate clapping on my bed.
"Hey Mer! Glad to see you actually awake! You're late for work!"
"No weirdo! Flight Attendant! Get up and get dressed! We are going to Alaska today!"
I'm Mer. The nervous 20-year-old girl that found the storm. I just hope there won't be a storm today, especially since I was left out of the story during it! Who knows what would have happened to me!