In Some Circles, Slowpoke Flight Attendants Go By 'Salads'

Melissa Block asks former flight attendant Marti Smith about trade lingo distinctive to the airplane. Smith explains the seemingly nonsensical phrase, "salads over St. Louis."

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And now from restaurant tickets to our latest bit of trade ling, and it is food-related today. We've asked you to send us a phrase or a bit of slang from your line of work that nobody on the outside would understand. And I was especially intrigued by what listener Marti Benson Smith sent us. She's a former flight attendant with America West Airlines and her phrase is this - salads over St. Louis. She explains, it refers to a particular flight attendant, a newbie, who was very sweet and very slow.

MARTI BENSON SMITH: Coming from a corporate world, she didn't have a lot of experience rehydrating clients up in the air.

BLOCK: Rehydrating? Is that what you call it - giving them a drink?

SMITH: Yeah, I think so. You know, rather than slogging drinks, I like rehydration technicians. Anyway, because she lacked a little bit in experience, her first class service kind of lagged as well. And when leaving Phoenix, she probably should have been on the desert service by the time we're over St. Louis heading to Washington D.C., but somebody discovered that she was still serving salads, which is you know, one of the first courses. And it was like, oh boy, you know, she's going to be serving during landing. And it kind of became a euphemism for your slower flight attendants, and it was just a polite way of saying boy, is that person slow.

BLOCK: Did the flight attendant know that you had this phrase that arose from her being kind of slow in delivering food?

SMITH: I only worked with her one time. She - I think she missed bid and wound up working back in - as we politely - impolitely called it, steerage sometimes, in the back of the airplane.

BLOCK: Thanks, thanks so much. Good to know. Because that's me back there. That's me you're talking to.

SMITH: I know, that was all of us actually. But I never directly talked to her about being called that.

BLOCK: You know, I wonder if any other flight attendants anywhere else would know what you're talking about. Or maybe they have their own term if their route is different - maybe it's you know, salads over Saskatoon or I don't know, drinks over Duluth, I don't know. But they may have no idea really. This is really specific to your airline and your route back then, I guess.

SMITH: Right, right, right. But I would almost guess there'd be similar in other airlines.

BLOCK: So how would you use it if you're with your flight attendant friends now? How would you use it? How would it come up?

SMITH: I think if you were at a restaurant and the service was very slow. Or if you were on another airline and - boy, their service is kind of slow - you might say wow, they have a salads over St. Louis as well. So I know - it's such an affectionate term. It makes me long to go back and work with that group again.

BLOCK: So you think it is affectionate, you're not - you were kind of making fun of her, weren't you?

SMITH: No, I don't think it was a make fun of at all. I think it was a gentle thing - salads over St. Louis - and everybody really liked each other. We were really a strong team at that airline.

BLOCK: Well, Marti Benson Smith, thanks so much for sharing your little bit of trade lingo with us.

SMITH: Well, thank you. And be sure and use that lingo on the flight attendants to see if you gets you anywhere.

BLOCK: But there are no salads anymore in steerage. You know, you're lucky to get a bag of peanuts.

SMITH: That's true.

BLOCK: The former flight attendant and listener Marti Benson Smith in Colorado Springs. We'd like to hear your trade lingo. Please send it to us on Twitter or Facebook. We're @npratc.

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