Where do I begin??? All of the fun, adventure, generosity, bonding, laughs, new friendships and overall ‘time of my life moments’ that happened on this trip were a complete surprise. There are plenty of opportunities to party when working on the super yachts but for me, 9 times out 10, I will decline the late night drinking and go straight to bed, even with this amazing group of clients. They are so much fun and love for the crew to be part of the whole experience with them, it’s so awesome. But knowing that I have another 16 hour day ahead of me keeps me in at night, the majority of the time. Plus this trip was three weeks with three sets of clients rotating in; I was not planning on doing anything but resting in between. What I hadn’t factored in was that it had been exactly one month since my man and I had broken up and although I was booked with work the whole month to keep my mind occupied, I was really sad.
When you’re the Sole Stewardess and Mate on a 75 foot yacht, it can get lonely especially when you’re like me and go straight to bed most nights. Honestly, all of my boat owners and their friends treat me as if I was family; it’s the best feeling in the world. Most of them are couples or families and although I chat with them here and there throughout the day, hang with them from time to time or even venture out solo once in a while, it’s still just me at the end of the day. Please don’t feel bad for me though, I am one of the happiest and most blessed people I know but when someone was in your life for almost two years and then all of a sudden, in flash, they’re gone, it’s sad, even when the breakup was kind and mutual.
So here I am, Thursday, June 14th, 2018 on a plane to the Abacos staring out the window stuck in my own mind, letting go, reflecting and shedding tears, all good stuff. It was now time to be single again and I was beginning to be OK with it. The Captain (one of my favs) picked me up at the airport and we headed straight to the grocery store to provision. From there we took a taxi to the waterfront where his son, our dynamic Mate, was waiting with the tender to take us to Green Turtle Cay to meet the big boat. The rest of the day was spent unloading supplies and getting the yacht ready for the guests who were to arrive on Saturday. Here I am happily working away, not for one second thinking we would be doing anything but working and the boss says, “If we get all of our chores done by mid day Friday, then we can have the afternoon off.”
What, I just got here…..yahooooo!!! Here’s the kicker, this crew had lived there for 10 years which meant they knew every waterway, back road, fun watering holes, the best snorkel spots, restaurants, hidden beaches and tons of locals. I had no idea I was about to experience these places, several times, I just thought I was here to work for 3 weeks. The next day we packed a cooler for the tender and the three of us plus the Mate’s childhood friend, who was born and raised on Green Turtle Cay, (pronounced Key) headed out for the day.
Our first stop was Munjock Cay where you snorkel with sting rays, turtles and nurse sharks in water that is an indescribable color of blue. You just pull your boat right up to the sand, throw the anchor and jump right in. I was in complete awe of the water and wasn’t scared one bit while snorkeling right past them. Two years prior I was terrified of the water, grew up watching ‘Jaws’ too many times but after a little coaxing from my ex, decided to face my fears, earned my dive certification and just like that, I wasn’t scared anymore. Guess after seeing what was down there, it wasn’t so frightening after all.
The next destination was to No Name Cay an uninhabited island just south of Green Turtle. There you will find the Abacos version of Pig Island, ‘Piggyville’. There were tons of them running around the feeding station that was built for them all sniffing out what they did and did not want to eat. They are some picky eaters too and the big ones, evil, they will run right over the little ones and take their food. There are many different theories about how they ended up there, but no one really knows for sure, either way they were malnourished and dehydrated. Then years ago, apparently a local named Craig heard about the pigs, visited the island, fell in love and took it upon himself to make two trips a week with food and water. Between him, the tourist and Sunset Marine on Green Turtle, who donated a 2000 gallon fresh water tank, all the piggies are thriving.
This was day two of my three week paid job in the Abacos. I love my career and all the people in it who make my life that much more blessed!! The best part of this trip was that 90% of the places we went to were by boat, not car, which is now my favorite way to travel. After hanging with the pigs we headed for some food at Pineapples on Green Turtle followed by a bit of dancing at Sundowner’s before heading in for a good night’s rest. The first round of owners were arriving the next morning for five days so it was important to be sharp and full of energy. Make sure to tune in for my next story, there are still 19 days left of my trip with so many more adventures to tell you about!
To my readers who were expecting to read about my flight with Lindsey Lohan, I am sorry. Up until now I’ve been catching you up on my past but I need to fast forward to 2018 for the moment. We will return to where I left off in 2003 when I was working as a Corporate Flight Attendant, but for the next few episodes I need to tell you about how I ended up going from a front office clerk to being paid to live on a yacht in Montauk all summer.
Three years ago I gave up my stable, 6 year desk job to pursue a life on the super yachts. It was not easy. I worked in filthy shipyards, washed down boats all day long for $15 an hour and worked as a Stew on a totally illegal boat where marijuana smoked filled rooms were the norm and the Captain was always drunk, just to mention a few. What I discovered that stifling hot summer of 2015 was this quiet and huge community of yachts below 100 feet who were always in need of good, part time help.
That and this great job placement website that doesn’t make you fill out a lengthy on line profile and won’t ask your age. With most yacht placement companies you have to complete a pretty extensive, on line application, which includes disclosing your age. A 43 year old aspiring Jr. Stewardess with no experience are not what most headhunters are looking for, I know, I worked at one of those agencies for 6 years. Trying to find work that way was a waste of time, I would have to figure how get on those yachts by myself.
The majority of the work posted on this site was for yachts between 60 and 90 feet with short term contracts and typically US flagged which meant they can only hire US crew. Turns out this part of the market was in desperate need of someone like me!!! So every day I would read their newest job ads, send my resumes, follow up, interview, network and wait. Facebook was a big help too, acquired a few jobs from posting there. I did this everyday for months landing a few detailing jobs or day charters but then nothing would come of it.
Apparently the ‘freelance’ help they tended to get were always either showing up wasted, not at all or getting hammered with the clients. These poor Captains had to frantically search for a Stew/Mate when it was time to take a trip because for that size range, owners would typically only keep Captains on full time. They would need to find someone who was not only fantastic with hospitality and housekeeping but also someone to help the Captain with navigation and the exterior duties. Here I come, older yes, but fit, eager, desperate and with a killer work ethic, common sense, endless energy, a constant smile and a tiny bit of work on deck.
I was happy to clean engine rooms, babysit kids, cook, walk dogs, jump off the boat to secure lines when no one was at the dock to help, you name it, I did it. Plus my party days were behind me, I still have fun but when I’m working, I tone it down. Showing up early and not hungover was highly appreciated but the work still wasn’t consistent! For six months I stressed every day and wondered if I had made the right move. All I wanted was a shot to show them what I had to offer even though I was brand new to the industry.
Then one day, my hard work paid off. The work just kept coming in and all by referral. By month 8 I had a fleet of 70 foot (give or take) yachts keeping me busy, each a few days a month, sometimes more. I loved it. Freelance was the best, there was no living in small quarters like sardines with a bunch of people you may or may not get along with and I didn’t have to move out of my cute one bedroom duplex where I had been for 5 years. Business was booming and I was continually learning new skills.
By July 2016, the one year mark as my own boss, I was constantly on the road working from yacht to yacht therefore it was time to give up my duplex that I was never in and live on the road for a while. I downsized, put a few things in storage and decided to try and live out of my suitcase for one year. Never once did I wonder where I would live or how I would survive…no idea what I was thinking. It turned out to be a great decision though because that one year on the road turned into two, then 3….but I don’t want to spoil the end.
What’s crazy is that the week me place was rented and i had no where to live but ended up meeting a wonderful man on Tinder while on a job in the St. Maarten. He was like no one I’d ever dated before and lived between the Islands and Europe working on his computer as an IT expert. After a one week romance, he asked me to move my suitcase aboard and give love a try. You’ll hear more about him later.
The few times I needed a couch to surf on back in Laudy I had my niece, good friends, my parents in Indiana and my new man’s catamaran in St. Maarten, his condo in Gibralter or the various places he would fly me too. Those stories I will get to later, you’ll just have to keep tuning in…
Now having a long distance relationship can go many ways depending on the couple and the circumstances. Dating me with my crazy travel schedule required a confidant man and one that I could have faith in as well. But with the “Best Boyfriend Ever” (BBE) by my side, we made it work, from different parts of the world, for almost 2 years. Overtime the week’s apart slowly turned into months apart and then we started to drift apart. From June 2017 to March 2018 we had only spent a total of 9 weeks together, but it worked for us, so we kept going. Our last trip was two weeks in Australia after almost 3 months of separation and we had a blast, everything was looking up. Then a few weeks after our trip, I received two job offers for this summer I couldn’t refuse. Taking them would mean at least another 4 months away from my man and there wasn’t much time to make a decision.
The first offer was 3 weeks in the Abacos with one of my busiest and most fun boats. These clients were all from the Midwest and treated me like family. Always inviting the crew along to have drinks or dinner, which was great, but up to this point, I would usually decline so that I could get a good night’s sleep. Yachting days are minimum 12 hours since we are typically up before the clients and still going strong well past dinner time. Little did I know at that point that my no partying rule while working doesn’t apply when in the Bahamas. (details in my next episode) After that I had two days to repack and get my things in order before moving onto job offer number two, three months on Long Island, two of them in Montauk.
It was ideal; I would live on the boat alone with the owner’s only coming on the weekends and get to spend my summer in the hottest spot in New York. For this gypsy child living out of her suitcase, this meant 4 months of free housing, not having to couch surf and all the food I could eat for free, how could I say no????
I accepted both offers and then broke the news to my man. At first we figured we could handle it, but then something changed and before you knew, we broke up. I was sad, not like I was in the past, when I was younger because by the time you hit your 40’s you tend to get used to stuff ending. You learn to take it in stride, almost become numb to it. But for good or bad reasons, it’s never easy to let someone go who was your best friend for 2 years. He seemed to always be on the other end of the line waiting for a chance to rescue the girl who never asked for anything, no matter where I was in the world….my Knight in Shining Armor. Plus, I was not looking forward to being single again. Before him, I was solo for 5 years, yep, long time and I was happy single, but I was also happy in my relationship.
So here I am, just turned 46 with a very successful career, the best body of my life and now the freedom to be fun and flirty with other boys…hello summer 2018!!!!
After one more failed attempt to find Cameron’s mobile, her assistant and I headed into the lobby to deliver the bad news. As we walked in, the pilots and the coolest actress ever were standing in a line just waiting to hear the news. Even though I knew I did not have her phone, it felt as though I was still guilty of something. You know that feeling when a police car is behind you on the road and even though you are doing nothing wrong, you start to panic, like you did do something??? That was me!! My day went from an epic high being told by Cameron Diaz that I was pretty and super cool to her now thinking I was still that street kid from my past that could clean out a K-mart without them ever knowing they had been robbed.
She was cool about it, kind of annoyed but cool and gave me her assistant’s number to call if it magically appeared. I spent another hour in that plane, searching the same corners over and over and the only thing I found was one of her hair extensions. For whatever reason, I chuckled and tucked it in my pocket. Obviously sleeping that night was rough and first thing the next morning I texted her assistant with trembling hands to find out what had happened. She simply said, ‘Oh we found it’ and that was it.
Since Cali is such a long flight from Florida, the jet company had us wait there a few days to see if they could book a paid charter back home or somewhere else for that matter. Like clockwork I was out every night drinking my face off and trying to find a boy to hang with. And like clockwork, I found one. Mr. Politician was quite young to be serving a term in office but after getting to know each other I soon learned that he was still at the bottom on the barrel trying to work his way up. He wasn’t really my type, which at the time was typically someone with 6 pack abs who was movie star hot and would most likely treat me bad or cheat on me.
Mr. P was just an average guy with an enormous personality who made me laugh hysterically every time we hung out. He had a car too which was like gold to me since in this particular California city, the jet company would always put us up at the airport hotel, a good hour’s drive to anything fun or cool. This meant my one option for excitement was the lobby bar and even though I was making good money, it didn’t seem reasonable to pay a taxi to go anywhere else. And although I didn’t know it at the time, we were about to see each other quite frequently since this city was a major stop for celebrities.
After about 4 days of hanging out and waiting for the call, we finally received our next charter. We were to pick up Tommy Lee Jones in Texas and drop him in Miami. Wow, in the almost 5 months of working on the private jets, we had flown to Europe at least 3 times and this was now my 3rd or 4th movie star. Eight months prior, I had never even been out of the Country and movie stars were just those tiny people on TV, like when they shrunk the loud kid in Willy Wonka. This was so exciting!
When he boarded the plane, alone, he sat down, asked for a beer then kind of kicked back and said he just wanted to chill. We had about 3 hours to Miami so I offered him a deck of cards, showed him how to work the TV and mentioned that I would be back in bit to check on him but if he needed anything in the meantime, to let me know. This jet was my favorite because instead of me having to chill on the tiny jump seat behind the pilots that hides in the wall, I had a huge, plush recliner with a tray and my own little TV. About 4 minutes after having settled into my seat, Mr. Jones pops his head in and says, ‘You know, I would like to play some cards…you know how to play poker?’ At this point I was beginning to feel a bit used to seeing these famous people so in a casual tone I responded, ‘Sure, but you’ll probably kick my butt.’ He headed back as I opened two small bags of peanuts to gamble with, poured each one in a small bowl and grabbed him a fresh beer. Here I was, sitting across from Tommy Lee Jones, 4 feet from his face, casually chatting about life and playing five card stud. He loved betting with those peanuts, said it was a clever idea. For about the first 2 hours he never seemed to crack a smile, instead he was very serious, but candid and joked a lot without ever laughing at his own punch lines.
Being the competitive soul that I am, I was determined to make him smile and I like to think that I’m pretty funny. Then it happened, he asked me about my parents. I proceeded to tell him how cool they were and how I learned my hard work ethic from them. Then I said, ‘you remind me a lot of my dad and he’s good looking, so that’s a compliment.’ He was looking down at his cards extremely focused on his next move when all of a sudden he paused, looked up at me with one eye while raising his brow and let out a chuckle with a faint glimpse of a smile!!! Whooooo Hooooo…..was what my brain was yelling but my face remained calm and for the last 40 minutes we continued our card game while laughing and carrying on the whole time. As he left the plane, he shook my hand and thanked me for a wonderful flight.
I barely had time to comprehend what had just happened when the pilots informed me that for our next flight, we would be picking up Lindsay Lohan….
Now that I had met another new best friend, I wanted to be single. But poor Dan had just spent $8000 on a stunning engagement ring, even though we had only known each other for 6 weeks. The many things about him that bothered me were now even more annoying, but he was so sweet, what was I to do? The fights kept coming, all provoked by me. All of a sudden I was questioning him about what he did while I was out of town and why he didn’t answer his cell phone when I was around. To be honest, I was legitimately jealous and couldn’t believe it. I had thought the past was behind me, that maybe it was possible for me to date without being crazy jealous. There was no way this man would have cheated on me and I see that now, but in 2003, at 31, I was still insecure. My body wasn’t terrible and I was a cute girl, fun, outgoing and obviously brave having picked up and moved from Indiana all the way to Florida, so why did I still think every man was cheating on me?
One night, as we were eating take out, I started arguing with him over something dumb I’m sure. Somehow I managed to make him think it was his fault, when in reality, it was me, I was manipulative and evil and I knew it, but I wanted out and didn’t have the heart to tell him. So I stormed out of his place leaving the ring on the kitchen counter and headed out to go party. He couldn’t believe his eyes and to this day, I still feel a bit guilty for what happened!!
My new friend Cathy lived just around the corner but was out of town so I headed straight to the coolest spot around. Shooters was this huge restaurant/bar on the water with plenty of slips for boats to dock and they did, tons of them. This place was always packed with heavy hitters hanging out at the bar and on Sunday’s they typically held a bikini contest by their pool. This was the perfect spot to go, one because I wanted to meet boys, but also because it was so crowded I figured maybe no one would notice I was alone. At this point I had only been flying for a couple of months and while on the road, most nights, was still clinging on to the pilots to hang out with. I did venture out once in a while alone but once I walked into this place, it felt like everyone knew I had no friends.
There was no way anyone could have known I was by myself but my insecurities had the best of me so off to the bathroom I went to figure out my next move. As always, I was chatting with the bathroom attendant lady spilling my troubles to her about leaving my fiancé and feeling weird about being alone when the most magnificent girl came busting out of the stall and in my direction. She overheard my conversation, was also there solo and wanted to know if we could hang together??? My savior Farah was blonde, fit, super fun, brave and loved boating. She grabbed my arm and off we went, like balls of fire through that crowd. My goal was to hang at the bar but not Farah, she was determined to get us on one of those yachts…and she did!!
Within minutes, we were drinking for free and mingling with the elite on an 80 foot boat. I had never been on one before and was just in awe of how beautiful it was. After a few hours Dan had been erased from my memory, I was the happiest single girl in Ft. Lauderdale and now had new bestie number two! To this day, her and Cathy are two of only a few friends that I’ve met in the 15 years of living in South Florida who are real, honest and genuine.
Life could not have been better!! I lived in a huge house on the water for dirt cheap, was making $300 a day flying around the world, single and had two girlfriends that loved to go out and party…and that we did, anytime I was in town, until my flight with Cameron Diaz almost ruined everything. We picked her and 5 other people up in Miami and were taking them to California, about a 5 hour flight. She had just finished filming a movie so the plane was overflowing with luggage from their long stay. What was so cool about her was that she had no entourage, no body guards and seemed to have driven herself there in a regular car, not a limo or a chauffeured vehicle. When Cameron boarded the plane, the first thing she did was run right over to me and asked if Carrie Grant was really my name? She thought that was the coolest thing and then proceeded to tell me how pretty I was and that I reminded her of a good friend, which was a compliment because her friend was awesome.
In my head, blasting loudly were the words OMG, OMG, OMG but on the outside I was cool as a cucumber while pouring everyone champagne. She was the most normal celebrity, fame had not ruined her or made her feel as though she was better than anyone else and at that point, it was the coolest day of my life. There was one boy with the group, not a body guard or someone famous, just a friend and as everyone was falling asleep, asked if I wanted to play cards to pass the time. I was so happy because with nothing to do since they were all passed out would mean that I would have had to sit in the cockpit on the most uncomfortable and smallest seat ever. It was located just behind the pilots, pulled out of the wall and was definitely not made for comfort or long distance flights.
Once landing, Cameron and her friends all hugged me as if we had know each other all of our lives. Since there were so many bags, the crew and I helped to take everything inside and then loaded them up in her SUV, which once again, she drove herself. The pilots were busy making our hotel reservation at the front desk and I was heading back to the plane to get it cleaned up when all of a sudden we heard Cameron yell, ‘I can’t find my cell phone’!!! ‘No problem, I’ll go and search the jet’. About 20 minutes in, there was no phone to be found anywhere on that plane and I began to panic. Her assistant was now searching with me and in so many words managed to get across that I was the only person in that fuselage the whole flight that they didn’t know, which meant they thought I stole it. To make things worse, she knew my name, and if Cameron wanted to, she could smear my reputation across Hollywood….
It didn’t take me long to change my mind. After gobbling down the cheese and inhaling the free bottle of wine, I was dressed up and ready to go out. The stalker scare at the French hotel pool had me freaked out for like 2 hours but once the wine kicked in, I was all of a sudden brave again and couldn’t wait to go dancing. Then just as I was heading out the door, the hotel phone rang. A hot wave of fear came rushing over my body as I picked up the receiver. Maybe it was the pilots checking to see if I wanted to go out or maybe it was the mystery creeper who sent me the wine and cheese.
‘Bonjour’, I said trying not to sound American to maybe throw him off only to hear Dan on the other end. ‘Hey Carrie, did you get my surprise at the pool’? What??? The man I had been hanging out with back in Laudy for like 2 weeks went through the trouble of calling the hotel, tracking me down at the pool (in France) and surprising me with wine and cheese, wow, what a doll!!!! We had a good laugh as I told him about my day. He apologized a million times for freaking me out which I insisted was not a problem because what he did was super romantic. I could tell right away my feelings for him had gone from just a guy to pass the time with to now a man who I could possibly take seriously.
Once I returned, every day I wasn’t flying around the world, we would spend together. After about a month, it was time to ask him what he did for a living. At first I figured maybe he was like one of these guys you see in the movies who had a secret agent man job where they can’t really tell you what they do or what if he was just some self made millionaire who managed to make enough money to retire young? Either way, it was time to find out. It was very strange that he dressed impeccably every day, but never went to a job. The answer was not what I expected and certainly not attractive, at least to me back then because I was still very insecure and had no idea what to look for in a man. Apparently his Grandmother had passed and left him a trust fund which he was now living off of. Really, that’s it, that’s the big story? Dan was like 38, blew through money like water and expected this money to last him another 50 years?
I’m a worker and even if I inherited tons of money, I’m still going to do something I love to keep busy and feel good about myself. So to me, a man who just takes that kind of money and doesn’t do something wonderful, or useful with it or his time, just isn’t sexy. To others it may be a dream come true but to me, back then and even more now, at 46, what I consider hot is a man in constant motion, always keeping busy with his mind.
He then said that he was working on a business idea with a buddy of his but it was on hold at the moment. At the time, I believed him because, one, he was so sweet and spoiling me and two, I had kind of fallen for him. In my heart I wanted it to be true so I figured what the hell, we’re not married and had just started dating so I’ll just keep it casual and see what happens. Besides, I was quickly discovering that the people I had been meeting in S. Florida were super fake and materialistic. Finding real friends was hard in that town and we had fun together.
But to be honest, we didn’t have much passion, he didn’t believe in recycling or taking care of the environment, my dog wasn’t really his thing and when it came to handy work, Dan only knew how to dial someone to come and do things for him. But you know women, in our minds; we can change a man and mold him into what we consider the perfect guy. He already had a good base so now I was on a mission to change everything about him and the poor guy had no idea.
About a week later, we hit one of those outdoor strip malls to do a little shopping and in the parking lot was a Jared’s jewelry store. Dan thought it would be a good idea to stop in, he wanted to buy me a sort of promise ring to show how he felt for me, which I thought was really cool. At almost 31 years old no one had ever asked me or even considered asking me to marry them. If you had read my past blogs you’ll remember that I was a crazy, jealous girlfriend who couldn’t handle her alcohol well so I could understand why I was still single.
Well that promise ring turned into an $8000 engagement ring…..yep, the next thing you know, I was getting married. All of the things about him that bothered me seemed to disappear and just like clockwork, I was staying with a guy because he wanted to be with me, not because he was my perfect match or because I was in love. The girl who was afraid to be alone was making the same dating mistakes from her past. I had no friends, no family and had been away from home so long, I had forgotten what it was like to be part of something, to be loved so why not marry him, I was now in my 30’s and it was about time.
During all of this courting I had managed to fly my 13 year old niece in from Indiana for her spring break. One day we were at the beach when I met the coolest chic and right away I could tell she was just like me. Cathy wasn’t materialistic, loved to go out, be fit, have fun and had was completely normal. I was so excited to have a friend. She lived walking distance from a really cool strip of bars and restaurants by the beach and since I didn’t like to drink and drive, said I could totally crash at her place after we went out. So that night, we hit the strip, had the best time and ended up meeting tons of cool people who also hung out there. She and I would just sit on her balcony for hours, sipping wine and talking nonstop. Cathy had recently been through a terrible tragedy and was still in mourning from the ordeal and like me, only had a friend or two, but not really anyone she could hang out and party with. I was the perfect distraction for her and she was the perfect new bestie for me.
As the weeks went on and the wedding planning began, for whatever reason, I began to sabotage the whole thing. Starting fights, questioning his loyalty, picking out everything that bothered me about him. At one point Dan looked right at me and said, ‘Carrie, it’s me, I’m a good guy, why are you doing this?’ At the time I didn’t know why, but in hindsight, I see now that he was all wrong for me and with my new bestie in tow, Dan was becoming obsolete. I was now engaged to a man that I didn’t love and had no idea what I was I going to do????
Dan seemed to be a perfect match for me. He loved to drink wine, eat good food, had no kids and was big into traveling. Neither of us were fans of cooking so if we weren’t eating out at the finest restaurants, we were ordering in expensive Italian. His condo by the beach was immaculately clean, his Mercedes was big and comfy and he dressed impeccably every day, but he didn’t have a job, so where was the money coming from…?
During the first week I didn’t ask, well, I guess I should say, didn’t care. It was just nice to be spoiled and have someone to hang out with. With no friends, life was lonely therefore he couldn’t have appeared at a better time. All of the women I had met while venturing out alone were gold diggers with plastic and silicone parts and right out of an episode of the real ex housewives of Fort Lauderdale. Plus if my flight attendant job went well, I would be busy flying all over the world anyway, in my mind, he was temporary. On top of that, like clockwork, I was dating someone who had no idea about passion or how to take care of a woman.
It had been 2 weeks since my last flight so hanging out with him seem to pass the time when finally, they needed me. We were heading to Nice, France I and would be gone for about a week, which meant the pilots and I would stay in a hotel and hang out until it was time to fly back. What’s even better is that it was against the law in Europe, unlike America for the jet company to rent the plane out while we waited. This meant we could chill by the pool having cocktails at noon or stay up all night at the club without having to worry about being called in for a flight. Not being a savvy traveler yet, still more of an unpolished, typical AmearKIN, I had not bothered to learn any French, not a word, which certainly explained the dirty looks and bad service I’d received.
Going out alone was not something I was used too and when I saw someone eating by themselves I would always feel sorry for them. So for the first few days I made sure to eat with the pilots but I could tell that they wanted to ditch me after to so they could venture out alone. It was time for me to put my big girl pants on and head out solo and I’ll tell you what, it’s the best feeling in the world. The first night I told people that I was at the club with a friend and that she was off dancing with someone. The second night I said I was meeting people there but by night 3, I was a pro. Going out alone is awesome and to this day, I do it all the time. Although I look back now and wonder how I am still alive. I was a big drinker and would get wasted all the time which made me a target. Years after I stopped flying the movie Taken came on and it really scared the heck out of me. I was that dumb girl telling cab drivers, strangers and other drunk people that I was there alone, or what hotel I was in, just stupid things you don’t do, ever! My angels were working overtime those first 3 years of traveling on the jets.
The hotel we stayed in had this amazing pool on the roof with a bar, waiters and an incredible view. As I was sunning it up, there were women all around me topless, as if it was no big deal. Of course to them it wasn’t, but back in the States, it was unheard of and even though it was common in France, it felt very shameful to me. Plus the owner of the jet company was with us, he had his pilot’s license and would often fill in on our trips so I couldn’t imagine him or the other one seeing me half-naked, it just felt wrong. Then one day there was a middle-aged, French woman with 3 kids hanging out. She was topless and her young kids were climbing all over her, bare breasts and all, how could that be? Most children in America would die if they saw their mother’s breasts, let alone hug her with them exposed, yet it was no big deal to these children. That was it, I decided it was time, I was tired of tan lines, all I had to do was keep an eye on the entrance so if my crew happened to appear, I could just cover up or flip over. I’ll tell you what, it was awful, I felt exposed, naked, embarrassed, weird and like everyone was staring at me. Half the women at that pool were topless so if they could do it, I could too! I was so proud of myself thst I set the timer on my camera and took a photo, lol.
I was just getting used to the idea of an all over tan, even dozing off a bit completely forgetting to watch for the other crew when I heard a man’s voice say, “Miss Grant”! OH EM GEE, my hands had never moved so fast!!! I covered up my size B parts then flipped over faster than lighting. I could hear the waiter chuckle a bit as he proceeded to let me know that an admirer wished to send over a bottle of wine and a selection of cheeses and did I care to have it sent to my room or would I prefer to enjoy it at the pool??? Exactly why I didn’t want to take my top off to begin with!!!!
Here I was in a strange Country, seemingly alone and some weirdo at the pool was watching me. He didn’t know who the person was just that the front desk called, described what I looked like and told him my name. No way was I going to stay there, I politely requested he send it to my room, grabbed my clothes, scanned the pool to see if anyone was looking in my direction and ran to my room keeping an eye out to make sure no one followed…..To make things worse, my cell was not international so there was no way to call for help if someone did attack me. With only 2 more days to go before flying back, I sat in my room contemplating whether I should just stay in until we left or be brave enough to head back out again….
It had been about a week before Kelly called with our 2nd training trip. We were to fly to the Dominican Republic and drop clients off for the weekend, but instead of going all the way back, they booked us into an all-inclusive hotel in order to wait it out. Really? This was my job, I couldn’t believe it, first Vin Diesel and now this! What was even better was that Kelly and I were like best friends right from the start, she was super fun to be around and I could tell she liked me too. After settling into our rooms, the 2 pilots, Kelly and I all met up for dinner and then hit the bar after. The next day we were lounging by the biggest pool I had ever seen and to top it off, it had a swim up bar. If you’ve never experienced one of these, you are missing out.
Just to make this perfectly clear, what I did next was not smart, but if you remember from my previous stories, I was new to smoking bud, well; new as in I didn’t start when I was 13 like most people I knew, I was 27. When I lived in Tampa there were a group of people I hung with that liked to party so for 2 years I indulged a bit on the dark side. It was a running joke that I had never even tried it until my late twenties and it wasn’t something that I did every day.
Well on that particular day, at the swim up bar there was a rather large man sitting at one of the poolside bar stools with a strange-looking cigarette in his hand. He noticed me staring so he asked if I wanted a hit? ‘HERE, I exclaimed?’ ‘Sure, why not, he answered?’ ‘Because it’s illegal!!!’ As I said this, the bartender pulled out a lighter and fired it up. Well I figured if the staff was ok with it, then why not? So I took a couple of hits, thanked him and just as I went to excuse myself, Kelly swam up right up behind me.
There was no doubt in my head that I was busted! Even if she didn’t see me smoke it, I was sure to smell like it. So thinking quickly, I dropped down under the water to wash out my mouth out and then popped up like nothing happened. We chilled by the pool for a bit chatting away and thank goodness she was in the mood to talk because that stuff made me paranoid so speaking was not a good idea. To my knowledge, she never knew but there was a big lesson to be learned that day, which I obviously didn’t grasp because this won’t be the last time you read about me doing something dumb abroad.
I passed with flying colors and was made the number 1 Attendant to call if Kelly wasn’t available. Apparently flight attendants were fired a lot at that company, often without any type of explanation and Kelly was the always the one who had to deliver the bad news. She made it clear that I was her best girl so far and warned me that one little screw up could get me canned but she would do whatever she could to protect me.
My new job was going great but I was still lonely, Sue had moved back to Seattle and other than having dinner with the pilots on the road, I was by myself, desperate to make some friends. The few times that I was brave enough to go out alone, I met some pretty awful, materialistic women. A friend of mine from High School back in Indiana happen to live a few miles away so he offered up his wife to hang with, which was great because we got along right away, but they had a young son, so she wasn’t always available.
Since spring break was big in south Florida so I thought it would be fun to fly my 13-year-old niece in. I would finally have some company and it would be a great experience. A few days before her arrival I was outside washing my car, pulling weeds and getting the house ready when I saw a good-looking guy across the street throwing out his garbage. So over I went to introduce myself. His name was Kevin and he was kind of a good ole boy, my age and super sweet. He had 4 wheelers in his living room, tools all over his coffee table, hunting rifles hanging on the wall and a refrigerator full of beer, perfect. We clicked right away so he invited me to have dinner with him at his neighbors across the canal. I was so excited to meet everyone and they were the coolest people, all super nice to me and they loved to BBQ. Even better, they had kids my niece’s age which meant she would have people to play with.
It was now time to meet some boys so I headed out by myself to an expensive restaurant with a great bar. Apparently this was the spot, especially if your looking for handsome, successful men. Keep in mind I was from Indiana, we didn’t really have rich men running around, even in Tampa that wasn’t common or at least I wasn’t hanging out at the right places, but in Fort Lauderdale, they were everywhere!
There I was, sitting alone at the bar when handsome Dan sat down. He was tall with dark hair and tanned skin, very fit, with a pressed Oxford on, nice slacks and some pretty fancy looking shoes. I had learned from the gold diggers that I was supposed to pay attention to things like expensive watches and what kind of car they drove. He checked off all the boxes but this one guy was different, sweet. Dan spoke very softly as we sat for hours getting to know each other while drinking wine and heavily flirting. At the end of the night, he gave me the sweetest kiss, grabbed my number and said he would be in touch. The butterflies in my stomach were working overtime that night but it was hard to tell if it was him I liked or just the attention, either way, I wanted to see him again.
He contacted me first thing the next morning and we ended up spending 4 days in a row together. The way he spent money on dinner and drinks reminded me of one other man I dated briefly back in Tampa, Herbie. We met at work the Thanksgiving before I moved to Lauderdale. Him and his buddies would come in 2 or 3 times a week, sit in my section and order 6 to 8, $125 bottles of champagne a night. There was never any interest on my end other than to make sure my guests had fun but with Herbie, it was different, there was this heat between us. Every time we stood next to one another I felt like I needed to be closer to him and I didn’t understand because he wasn’t my type. Smoked cigarettes, dominated the conversation, acted like he owned the room, was Cuban and at least 15 years older than me but boy did he know how to charm a girl. One night I was let off early with no plans so him and his crew invited me out. We had so much fun, he could salsa dance and was a great dance instructor plus Herbie loved live music, which is one of my favorite things to do. Over the next few dates he kind of grew on me as we proceeded to have a whirlwind, 2 month romance! I’ll tell you what, with out getting too personal, that man and I had some crazy passion!!! It was never about him when we were together which I had really never experienced before…all I’m saying…Top 3!!!
Unfortunately his passion was the only positive because not only did I discover that his money came from being a huge drug lord but he was also super jealous, so I ended it. At this point I had been pretty much single my whole life with a few long term boyriends, but never engaged and no children, which brings me back to Dan…
The next week the main flight attendant, Kelly, who had been with the company for years called and said that she would be going with me on my next flight to make sure I was doing everything correctly and then would decide if I was right for the position. In the mean time, I had taken Travis to a doggie daycare facility where he tested with the other dogs and passed with flying colors. It was $40 a night for him to stay there and he loved it! Then I met the neighbors. Our yards were separated by a chain link fence which Travis somehow wiggled his way through and into their doggie door. All of a sudden, he was sitting in their front window and they had no idea where he came from. It could not have been more perfect. My neighbors had 2 dogs that loved to play and thought I was crazy for wanting to pay $40 a day, so they offered to keep an eye on him when I was gone! Everything was lining up perfectly, now I just had to impress the boss on our test flight…and I was in.
Boss lady called me the night before to let me know that Vin Diesel had booked for the next day and we were to fly to Daytona to pick him up from the race. Now Vinnie baby had just released Triple X and was the hot ticket in Hollywood, so after she told me that, my jaw dropped to the floor. OMG, he was hot and I was single, was the first thing that came to mind. She must have sensed that too because her next words were very clear. ‘Carrie, you cannot be star struck, you don’t chat it up with the client, quick yes or no answers and then you make an excuse to go back to the galley, do not flirt or try to pass out your phone number.’ Now I’m not sure if those were her exact words, but I got the picture. She had flown with heaps of celebrities so this was no big deal for her, no matter how hot he was, I had to keep it professional.
We arrived at the executive airport in Daytona where there was a huge tent with free food, TV’s, music and all kinds of things to keep the crew happy while they waited for our clients. As the time passed, the skies started to get a bit grey and the dark clouds were rolling in. It was starting to looking pretty scary outside but no one seemed to be concerned so I just figured it was no big deal. Boss lady and I had our fill of food and were waiting it out on the Gulfstream in order to avoid getting caught in the rain when his limo pulled up. She greeted him at the top of the stairs and I was standing inside, just past the galley, in front of the seating area.
Mr. Diesel looked pretty hot already in the movies, but in person, he was even hotter and wore a tight white t-shirt and jeans….OMG!!! I was so star struck and somehow had to hide it. She seemed cool as a cucumber and thought it was best that I take the lead to see how I do. As he shook my hand, we made eye contact, introduced ourselves and kind of gazed at each other until he sat down. This could have been my imagination or him just wondering why his flight attendant was staring at him like a piece of chocolate cake. The weather outside had gone from a rainstorm to what seemed like a Cat 1 hurricane, if that was a commercial jet, we would have never left the tarmac, but because it was private, we took off anyway.
His buddies immediately went to sleep which left him with nothing to do but talk to me and he did, over and over. I managed to whisper that I’m on a training flight and talking to the clients for too long is strictly forbidden, his response, ‘well I paid for the plane and I want to talk to you.’ During all of this, my boss and I are being thrown around the plane from the storm when we should have been strapped in our seats for safety, but instead we stood in the doorway of the galley, giggling and chatting away with the hottie. At one point, I asked him if anyone ever called him Vinnie unleaded by accident, ha, took him a minute, but he got a chuckle from that one.
As I was clearing away his dinner plate, he asked if he could get my number because he was looking into buying his own jet and would need a flight attendant. Wow, of course I was going to give him my phone number and I just happen to have business cards handy, the hard part was getting it to him without her seeing. So being a clever single girl, I put it under his dessert plate, placed it in front of him and quietly said, it’s under your plate, please be discreet about picking it up. Did I mention how suave he was, even the way he sat in his chair exuded sex, this man was fine and he knew it.
We made it safely to the ground; he shook my hand again and left the plane. To this day I’ll never know if he called, because about a month later I switched from my cell from a Tampa number to a Fort Lauderdale one which was probably for the best. Apparently I did a great job of hiding my flirting because Kelly called the next day and said she is going to conduct one more test flight with me so be packed and ready. You would think since I got away with exactly what she told me not to do on my first training flight that I would be on my best behavior for the next one, but being young and dumb, I did something stupid again….
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It was February, 2003, 3 weeks since I decided to pack everything up and leave Tampa after 5 years of living there. Sue our flight attendant on the private jet to Vegas made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. Take over the lease in the house she rented in Oakland Park, which was a suburb of Fort Lauderdale and be her replacement at the jet company. I had looked the city up before heading down and according to the internet; it was an area with a high crime rate. I was a bit worried about what kind of neighborhood I would be living in where the rent was only $500. Not that I wasn’t used to living in shady places. In Augusta, after my college boyfriend moved away, I rented a place for $250 a month, with broken door locks and daily gunshots, so how bad could this place be?
Tampa was great and I never thought I would leave, but who was I kidding? It wasn’t in my nature to stay somewhere for too long, at least up to this point in my life. I had exactly $1400 in my pocket from picking up every shift I could, some furniture, a car and my poor doggie Mr. Travis. I didn’t deserve him, he had put up with a lot, I wasn’t the best dog owner at this point, but was getting better. Not only was I worried about my new living conditions, but there was no guarantee that I would get the job. Sue was going back to Seattle to reconcile with her husband and thought I would be a great replacement for her on the jets, but that didn’t mean I was hired, she wasn’t the boss. There was always bartending and waitressing if things didn’t work out and even though I was great at hospitality, working in restaurants was depressing. At this point though, I had nothing to lose.
When we pulled into the cul-de-sac, I was pleasantly surprised. The houses were cute, the lawns were kept up tidy and the streets were clean, so far so good. But my place, wow, never would I have thought it was would be so awesome. Sue greeted us outside and was eager to show me around. The house was huge, 2 living rooms, a giant open kitchen, 3 bedrooms, big laundry room, fenced in yard with a doggie door, on a canal and with an avocado and grapefruit tree in the backyard! Apparently the lady who owned it couldn’t charge full rent because she would come to Florida from time to time and stay in one of the bedrooms, so Sue was more like a house sitter and I was the luckiest girl in the world.
Sue was amazing, not only as a human being, but she gave me a couple of suit jackets to wear on the plane, told me all the inside tips on how to handle the job, showed me how to pack properly for long trips and introduced me to the owner of the company. Her husband wasn’t coming for a few weeks so her and I would sit around, drink wine and gossip as if we had known each other our whole lives.
It’s crazy how things work out. If I hadn’t had that casual conversation with one of the other servers in Tampa while polishing silverware about working on private jets, he wouldn’t have given my name to the jet company where I met Froggie, the client. If I hadn’t of done a great job with him on the plane then he wouldn’t have called me 2 months later to hire me for Vegas. And if Sue happened to be off that day, we would’ve never met and I’d still be miserable and probably homeless in Tampa.
It had now been about 3 weeks since my move and still no jet job, I was losing hope and running out of cash. Reality had set in, besides jobs like this don’t just land in your lap. Plus my background did not contain five-star service and I had only experienced one flight previous to this. It was time to go back to what I knew best, so I had set up an interview at a local restaurant and then Sue’s phone rang. It was 2 in the afternoon and I was taking a nap when she busted through the door and said, get up, you’re on!!! They needed someone for 7 days at $300 a day and when she told them she was done, they asked for me. Sue wasn’t leaving town for a few weeks so she said she would keep an eye on my dog until I returned, but if this all worked out, I would need to figure out how to take care of my little man.
The house I was renting was less than 10 minutes drive from the executive airport and this last-minute trip was leaving right away. I had no time to think about how things would go on my first flight with this new company. I was so nervous, almost sick as I drove to the airport. Here I was, about to be up close and personal on a private jet with the very elite and responsible for providing exceptional service. My one and only trip back in Tampa was easy, the client was young and not really concerned with how many forks were on the table, but I had no idea what these people would be like. If I did a bad job, that was it, my whole move to Fort Lauderdale wouldn’t so much be a regret, but if I failed, it was back to making minimum wage or waiting tables again. At 30 years old, I had never been married, had no kids and my only skills were either clerical or in a restaurant. This was my one shot and I was not going to blow it!
In all honestly, I don’t remember the specifics of the trip, just that it kept extending and when we were about to land back in Laudy, the office phoned the plane with a last-minute flight to the Bahamas. As the door opened and I was about to greet the guests, you’ll never believe who was standing on the tarmac????
Froggie, my very first client, I couldn’t believe it! He was with a group of friends heading to Atlantis for the weekend and while we were on the flight, he asked if I wanted to stay and hang with them. I could share a room with his body guard and fly back on the jet Sunday. My boss said ok since I had been working nonstop for about 2 weeks straight. So here I am, my first time in the Bahamas except I’m flying there on a private jet and with a free hotel room waiting for me. His friend was having a huge party on a Lyford Cay with a steel drum band, tiki huts, tons of food and some amazing fireworks. I remember looking through the 3d glasses we were given to watch the show, just smiling; not believing any of it was real. But it was, this was my life now and I prayed that I didn’t do something stupid to mess it up.