For All My Frequent Flyers | Blogs

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For All My Frequent Flyers
For All My Frequent Flyers

I work at the Shipyard Brewpub and the Linda Bean’s Lobster Café at the Portland International Jetport. There is something very bizarre about working in an airport, especially the restaurant industry. Some of what I am about to share with you, I could not make up.

Portland International Jetport is also known as “PWM” or “Portland Westbrook Municipal”. For a long time I was asked why it wasn’t called “PIJ” (Portland International Jetport) and I was always ashamed to say I never knew. The reason for it is because dating back pilots used a series of lights to navigate arrival and the last set of lights at PWM was located in Westbrook. Now, the City of Portland owns the airport, although the governing body of the airport used to be located in both Portland and Westbrook.  

To answer another question I’m asked at least once a day: Yes, I have to go through security. I believe I am asked this question for two reasons. Firstly, people are curious and secondly, it brings a sense of security to the paranoid flyer. Every day I enter the airport just like any other passenger. Fortunately for me, I get to cut the line thanks to a badge I went through a lengthy process to attain including a background screening. I am able to enter the line that says “Mothers/Medical Liquids” which honestly, I am not quite sure the significance of, and walk directly to a TSA agent. I flash my badge, we exchange small words and I place my belongings in a bin. For the record, I am allowed to cut ahead. I do not do it to aggravate you.

For those who have travelled recently you are aware there is a new screening procedure at the PWM.  For those who have not, there are three brand new full body scanners at the security checkpoint located in the new terminal. My one liberty when going to work is deciding whether or not I want to pass through the scanner or through the old school metal detectors. I wonder, why I am given this choice? The only logical reason I can come up with as to why I may be allowed to opt out of the full body scanner is because over time the electromagnetic waves can be harmful to my body. Although, I suppose if you are a less-frequent flyer, you’ve no need for this concern. Apparently these scanners cause no more radiation than standing next to a conventional microwave oven. Awesome.

After speaking to a TSA agent, I learned that the real reason I have a choice is because employees have already had a full background check and are less likely to be problematic because we wear a badge. I still feel like there is some flawed reasoning here?

The image displayed when you enter the scanner is entirely private. Surprisingly, I have crossed this conversations many times, and found that people are in disbelief when they learn that one literally looks like a ginger bread cut-out with hair. Your body when it enters the scanner looks like the 80-year-old man’s body before you, and looks like the 5-year-old child’s body behind you. The machine does not discriminate. You cannot see implants, or hair plugs, much to TSA’s dismay.

In the bowels of the airport there are several concessions. Despite the common misconception, the restaurants I work in are like every other restaurant in the world. Granted, I am slinging burgers, lobsters and beers, however all manners and etiquette are fully applicable. We also have table service! (Another common falsity, as I am approached throughout the day and asked to place orders).

Tell me, would you walk into a restaurant, attempt to signal the bartender and while growing impatient decide it would be a better idea to reach over the bar and pour your own drink? Would you demand in a large tone to be served more alcohol after I politely informed you I am not able to serve you anymore? Would you sit at a bar drinking a martini and light up a cigarette when it is completely illegal and there are other people sitting around you, including children in other areas of the restaurant? When I inform you that you cannot smoke, do you proceed to get up and go smoke in the bathroom instead? Is this common practice when you go out to eat? The airport is like any other place. Vacation has not started for you and the airport is not your playground.

I am here as your guide to help you succeed in receiving the best customer service at the airport. Here are a few short tips.

Please Seat Yourself. When a sign says “Wait to be Seated”, then wait. When a sign says “Please Seat Yourself”, then seat yourself. If you do not see a sign, ask me, I’d love to help you. I do not read minds and sometimes can’t tell if you are standing at the edge of the restaurant to catch the last few minutes of a game or because you actually want to be seated. This is something pertinent to the airport only and occurs regularly.

Dirty Table. Of all the tables in the restaurant, seat yourself at a clean table, please.  If there is only one table left in the restaurant then be patient and let me clean it before you sit down. The airport much like other restaurants can be quite busy, so please be patient.

Don’t patronize. I would love to serve you a lobster roll and a Coke, but I do not care to serve you if you are acting more important than me. The phrase “So what do you do in your real life?” is not appealing for me to answer. Please do not ask me this because then I am going to use you as an example.  

Cell Phones Equal No Service. I will not approach you if you are on your cell phone. If you would like expedient service, please wait to make your phone calls until after I have placed your order. Thank you.

Ma’am. I do not have children. I am not over 30 years old. Please, do not call me “ma’am”. There is one exception to this rule. If you were born and raised in the South then you are allowed to call me “ma’am”. You are only allowed because your “ma’am” is not only engrained, but also accompanied by numerous other manners which those boys and men I know who grew up in the North do not possess. Ya’ll have my golden ticket. Everyone else, smarten up.

Push in Your Chair. Why doesn’t anyone do this anymore? When I am busy and running around the restaurant, I do not want to turn around and trip on a chair that was not previously there. The exception: You suddenly realize you’re about to miss your flight and have to run out of the restaurant.

No Free Photos. If you are going to be sitting at my bar snapping pictures of me when you think I am not looking to send to your cronies, think again! This happens all too often. If you are on vacation and would like a picture, then just ask me. 

The Universal Napkin. Do not put your napkin, balled up and dirty on your plate if you do not want me to clear it. When you put your napkin on your plate that is the universal signal you are finished eating. When I walk over to your table to clear your nearly empty plate and you grab bits and pieces of left over food while the plate is in my hand, both you and I look bad. Refrain or do not put your napkin on your plate.

No Smoking. Enough said. Hint: If you are craving a cigarette just go back outside and through security. I do not recommend doing this between the months of June through September, but all other times of the year, it won’t take any time to exit and reenter. Side note: Please, no smoking in the bathrooms.

Over the last year I have learned to handle my fair share of anything in the restaurant. I anticipate my day and what is going to happen from the few minutes I pass through security to the second I arrive at work. You never know. I understand people are stressed because they don’t like to fly, some are overly excited because they are going on vacation, and some are complacent because they are travelling for work. At times emotions can be high and people may do anything. I try to empathize. All in all, it is never a dull day at PWM.

Don’t be afraid to say hello if you are ever flying out of PWM. I am the woman behind the bar slanging Shipyard and lobster rolls, and hoping despite how I may have communicated, that I can make your day a little bit better. Truthfully, that was my goal all along. 

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