Most people’s work places include an area where employees can escape the stress and boredom of their jobs. Shops have back-rooms where staff can relax and enjoy their lunch without fear of being pestered by a customer wishing to return a pair of ill-fitting knickers. Office workers have canteens and rest rooms to tear themselves away from their desks, go for a coffee and a quick cigarette. But on board an aircraft, there is NO escape when you’re locked in a metal tube at 35,000 feet.
Your hard-working, glamorous cabin crew have a tiny space, often situated next to stinking toilets and piles of rubbish, in which to grab five minutes peace, get something to eat and catch up with our fellow cart tarts for some much-needed gossip.
Sex, laughter, tears and tantrums; as the old saying goes, ‘What happens in the galley, stays in the galley’. But for one flight only we’re allowing you dear reader a sneak peek into our world, as we reveal just some of the things that REALLY go on, behind that curtain.
So what is a galley? The first ever aircraft to have one was the Douglas DC-3 ‘Dakota’. It was designed as an area for the crew to prepare gourmet food and drink, away from passengers prying eyes. Todays galleys are filled to the brim with trolleys, canisters and our emergency equipment. Sods law always prevails onboard an aircraft. You can guarantee that whatever you need will be right at the back of a knackered old bar cart with a dodgy wheel and faulty brake; or in the battered canister in the hardest to reach stowage or hidden beneath piles of dry stores.
The crew member in charge of the galley is often refered to as the ‘galley slave’ or ‘galley bitch’. On larger aircraft this can be a very stressful and demanding role. Organisation is the key, hence why most cabin crew will agree that ‘A tidy galley, is a happy galley’.
The galley curtain is our life line. If the curtain is closed dear passenger, then please take this as our ‘DO NOT DISTURB’ sign. We’re having a break. A quick cup of coffee and a nibble on that meal we told you we’d run out of. We will have already served you your food and drink, so forgive us if we’re more than a little p*ssed off when, after finishing the service a mere five minutes ago, you come poking your head around our curtain to ask for a top-up. Please do us a favour and ‘F@*k Off!’. Annoy us once too often and you’ll be wearing that beer you’ve just asked for. “Sorry it exploded all over you sir, it’s the pressure”. It’s not, we’ve just given it a damn good shake. Works every time.
Please also note, the galley is NOT your personal gym space to bend, stretch and do your exercises. It is NOT a crèche for your screaming child to be entertained and it is definitely NOT somewhere you should loiter for longer than a few minutes whilst waiting for the toilet.
As trolley dollies, we believe that the flimsy piece of material aeroplane manufacturers call a curtain is a sound-proof barrier. That topics of conversation discussed behind it will go un-heard by nearby passengers. Unfortunately, as I discovered, this is often not the case.
On a late night flight some years ago, we had dimmed the cabin lights and were huddled together on canisters and perched on jump-seats, enjoying a hot chocolate and some nibbles after what had been a particularly busy day. I had just met a new fella and the girls and fellow gays, were itching to hear my latest sex-ploits. The conversation got quite dirty, as I revealed all about the weekend we had spent away in the Lake District at a gorgeous log cabin, complete with hot-tub. We landed back at base and were saying goodbye to the passengers, when a little old lady, well in her seventies, came and asked if she could have a word with me. I knelt down to ask her what was wrong?
“Well young man” she replied, “I must say I was rather intrigued to hear about your little adventure to the Lakes”, I could feel my face turning red. “It reminded me of the time when my late husband and I went for a dirty weekend away to Margate”. My jaw dropped, but she went on. “Marvellous it was. I think that was where my fourth child was conceived, although I can’t be sure. I was having an affair with the butcher at the time, used to give me all the best cuts of meat for free, in exchange for a suck in his abattoir. Massive cock!”. With this I burst out laughing. I couldn’t quite believe what was actually coming from this sweet, little old ladies mouth. “You made my day sweetheart hearing your story. Good luck to you. From how you described him he sounds like a keeper”. And that little old lady was right as we’re still very much together.
Louder crew members (like myself) chatting in the galley, will frequently be ‘shushed’ by nearby passengers. This really annoys me. I would never dream of walking into your place of work and telling you to be quiet. Some passengers actually enjoy sitting near the galley and will strain their ears to hear what latest ‘Galley FM’ gossip is being discussed. Who’s sleeping with who? Who’s just had tea no biscuits with management? What new regulations are we being forced to carry out? What other terms and conditions are our airline trying to erode? Gossip is a fact of life in any airline and every trolley dolly loves a bit of ‘Galley FM’. Where some of the rumours actually start, i’ll never know. Some are laughable, some are more serious, but more often than not they are a load of rubbish. The trouble with ‘Galley FM gossip’ and a curtain that isn’t actually sound-proof is that you never quite know who is sat close by, ears pricked, listening in. I have known many crew sacked after an unknown company big-wig has been eavesdropping from the last row.
On longer sectors, or our overnight ‘red-eyes’ once we have fed and watered you, dimmed the lights and tucked you in for the night, flights can often drag. To stop us from eating our own body weight in Pringle’s from the bar, we have to find various ways to pass the time.
This sometimes involves ‘galley games’. These can vary, depending on how adventurous the boys and girls you are flying with are. The best games are those which involve winding up the passengers. Putting silly notes into magazines or on meal trays and watching their faces as they find a scrap of paper with ‘FUCK YOU’ written on it. Sticking a coin to the floor by the loo and peeking from behind the curtain as people struggle to pick it up. Making silly PA’s and freaking everyone out by whispering ‘I see dead people’ when the cabin is in complete darkness.
One of my personal favourites is ‘loo roll races’. If you have two lavatories close together, get some loo roll and place one end in the toilet, take the other end and unravel it as far as possible. Then on the count of three press the flush button and watch as it races down the aisle. The first one to get all of it down the toilet wins.
Card games are often spiced up by adding a wager from some left over night-stop allowance and spin-the-bottle or truth or dare can always be relied on to pass away a few hours. A crew member who worked for a UK charter airline some years ago, told me how they used to play naked twister in the underfloor galley on the DC-10 while passengers, travelling back from a magical time at Disney World, sat watching the inflight movie oblivious to what was going on beneath their smelly feet.
Many cabin crew love having their horoscopes read. Magazines passengers leave behind will be scoured for the horoscope section, with one crew member picked to play Russell Grant and read them out. Then there’s the wannabe ‘Mystic Megs’ who pull out the Tarot cards or grab your hand for a palm reading, reducing some crew to tears when they tell them the fella they’ve just met is no good, or their cat who ran away six months ago won’t be coming home.
I’ve even heard of the odd Ouija board being attempted, and my next story is a cautionary tale to anyone wishing to try one onboard. The aircraft was an ageing 747, one of the first to be built. It’s a fact of life that people will die on aeroplanes and many crew had said this particular Jumbo was cursed, after the deaths of more than a few passengers over the years. Before long, crew and passengers began reporting seeing and hearing weird things all over the aircraft. After a drunken night-stop in London, one crew decided it would be a good idea to carry out a Ouija on the flight home. With a low load and services completed, the girls and boys gathered down the back. At first nothing happened. But slowly the glass began to move, spelling out the name of a passenger who had died onboard just a few months earlier (a fact they only discovered when they returned to base). Suddenly the lights throughout the cabin flashed on full, waking up many of the sleeping guests and scaring the crew. Just then the galley curtain began to rustle and a sleepy child wondered in asking for a coke. Frightened out of their wits, they stopped the Ouija straight away and sent the boy back to his seat with his drink. Dawn was creeping over the horizon, as the crew in economy began the breakfast service. It was then they realised that no one had spotted the child since. Searching business and first, there was no sign of him and they assumed he must just be in the toilet. But when the flight landed at JFK and all of the passengers had disembarked, not a single crew member saw the boy get off. Could he have been the ghost of one of the deceased passengers?
There is of course more than just ghosts, gossip and naked twister that goes on in our Galleys. Oh yes, it’s not just passengers who like to join the mile high club. Being up close and personal, whilst working in such confined spaces, spending time away with gorgeous boys and girls, combined with sunshine and too much alcohol, creates so much temptation and sexual tension that tales of sex onboard between crew are common. We may look innocent; but I can assure you most of us are not.
A male flight attendant for a UK based low-cost airline was operating a long flight down to the Canary Islands with a lad who he’d fancied for some time. Flirting throughout the day, the tension was getting too much and so they sent the two junior crew members out to complete the final drinks service. Galley curtain pulled, the pair got a little frisky while passengers unknowingly sat inches away. Unfortunately, one of them failed to notice the white stains on his waistcoat until all of the passengers had disembarked and one of the girls asked what it was. Awkward!
Another story, this time involving a straight couple, occurred late one evening in the back galley on a 737. Still in the honey moon period, the pair couldn’t keep their hands off each other. Due to some moderate turbulence the Captain decided to strap the crew and passengers in much earlier than usual. Sat in darkness on the jump seat, they couldn’t wait any longer. Bent over the slide bustle she told me it was the best orgasm she’d ever had, as the wheels touched down at Heathrow. So much for their 30 second review.
The galley is also a place for tears and heartache. It’s a place we discuss break-ups and break downs. In training we are told to leave our problems at home, in reality this is impossible. Hours have been spent listening to our colleagues heartache, hopes and fears. Listening to a crews conversation in the galley, can be juicier than an episode of Jeremy Kyle. And from the sound advice we usually always give, we really should start our own agony aunts page.
Then there’s the coming out stories. The aviation industry is such a gay-friendly environment that male crew who start out as ‘straight’, often confess all a few months later as they can no longer hide their sexuality. Tears flow when they ask how they will ever tell their family and friends. We’ve all known at least one of these boys. I was one myself, sat on the jump seat, pouring my heart out to my Purser as I revealed I was gay. Of course they already knew, we always do. .
Then there’s the laughs, and boy do we have some laughs. Some of my fondest memories of my flying career have come from being sat with my friends in the galley, talking, joking and taking the piss out of each other.
So there you have it ladies and gents, a small taster of what goes on onboard. Believe me there are thousands more stories, some too racy to write. Don’t even get me started on what goes on behind the locked door of a crew-rest area on some long-haul aircraft, that’s a whole other chapter.
If only the bulkheads could talk?
One final thing dear passengers, next time you see a closed galley curtain, you now know that it is closed for a reason. Unless you are dying or the wing is on fire please just go back to your seat and leave us alone. Thank you.
© confessionsofatrolleydolly.com by Dan Air.