By Alexandra H. Rodrigues
Published in Literary Booklet
Massapequa Library 2015
This is the story how I landed the job as Stewardess at a time when maybe 10 out of 2000 applicants made it.
The root of it applies to all candidates for any job.
Some twenty heads turned and forty eyes, green, blue, brown and mixed evaluated me when I walked into suite 06 of the Hilton Hotel in Berlin. I pulled up one of the folding chairs and nearly tore my left stocking in an effort to sit down gracefully. I was nervous, not at all sure of myself. When the clock of the nearby Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial church, a well known monument of Berlin, chimed three, not a chair was left empty. I counted 32 candidates, including myself. In the silence one could have heard a fingernail crack.
An exotic looking Brunette and a pale Blonde ere skimming through Vogue and Harpers respectively, while the rest of us stared into the air with measuring side glances at each other. We were all wondering what was happening behind the closed door where the hiring committee of Pan American World Airways was holding court.
Age 21 and over. Weight 130 pounds or under. Height 5.4 to 5.8. Must be Bilingual or better. Must have High school diploma or preferably College. Those were the basic requirements. I had seen the Ad from Pan Am in the morning paper and had called in sick to my present, oh so boring job as secretary. I had decided to give it another go. Previously I had tried for the wings in the air with Lufthansa and TWA. Lufthansa turned me down because of my non-existing French and TWA because they could not sponsor me and had no service out of Berlin.
A look into my hand mirror assured me that I was neatly groomed. The navy suit enhanced my figure. It resembled the style of the Pan Am uniform and I had picked it for that reason.
One by one the candidates are called. There seemed to be a pattern. Those who only spent a short time inside, came back out with an unhappy demeanor about them. A few who spent longer inside looked rather pleased. My pondering about this fact was interrupted by one girl, who had been inside telling a girl who probably was her girlfriend “ They want to know what the capital of Alaska is Beats me so I guess it is over for me?
My palms got sweaty. Damn it, a vision of Dr. Luedke my geography teacher in High school flashed thru my mind “Girls pay attention.” I hadn’t. Now I was drawing a blank. I had to do something. Who would know? My father! I rushed to the phone booth which was close by. While I was still dialing I heard my name being paged. The receiver nearly dropped to the floor, I had to untangle myself from the cord and slammed the receiver back into the cradle. Without haste I made my way to the Interview. A lost cause for sure, so the quicker I got it over with the better. Literarily numb I found myself facing a panel of three important looking men and a little, elegant, older lady. The chief stewardess as I should find out later. “Is something wrong?” the man with the gray hair and the horn rimmed glasses inquired. I blurted out” I know you are asking what the capital of Alaska is. Well , I do not know ,but I tried to find out .you paged me before I could get the answer from my father.”
To my surprise everybody laughed. Totally deflated I now thought I had made a fool out of myself on top of it. The lady offered me a seat. Questions which I remembered from the previous interviews were put to me. “ Do you like flying?” “Do you like people?” Are you willing to relocate should it become necessary? It surprised me that they took still so much time to interview me. I answered honestly and without embellishment. Then it was over. They all stood up simultaneously. With a jovial smile, the man who had greeted me came over to me and shook my hand:”You will get a letter from us in about a week.” He said.
I knew or seemed to know what he referred to. I had gotten two letters before– sorry, we regret…
I have no way to describe the surprise I felt when he added: “You will be accepted. Welcome to Pan Am.”
I was as happy as I was stunned. Today after many years of flying I understand that they had hired me because I came across as unpresumptuous and because when in a bind I had taken the initiative to solve a crisis situation.