BE: I’m sure you have countless stories to tell about your work that didn’t make it into this essay — what would you say lends an experience to being the stuff of literature?
KB: The bizarre and dramatic stories oftentimes trump the simple and straightforward ones. I didn’t write about the time I opened the first-class lavatory door for Tyra Banks, for example, because what man hasn’t opened a door for a remarkably beautiful woman? But when a twenty-something man, appearing to be intoxicated during the initial stages of boarding, called me a bastard for not making him a mixed drink the second he buzzed onto the aircraft, well, that found a way into my essay — the first line, no less — because it played off the idea of the many names I’ve been given. But that’s just clawing the surface, really. The stuff of literature, to me, when regarding the subject of work — something Richard Ford claims, in his editorial introduction to the collection of stories, Blue Collar, White Collar, No Collar, “has plenty to tell us about work and its stamp on us” — always finds a way to shine light on an aspect of the job while simultaneously striking an emotional note or chord. In other words, each experience worth telling tends to have external and internal components, in one way or another. I tried to tell the stories that touched on the actions, jargons, and exchanges associated with stewarding while hitting reoccurring notes of loneliness, fear, humor, surprise, etc. Another component in compiling my experiences was organization. I wanted readers to stumble into stewarding the same way I did six years ago — when the economy plummeted, when I was having a tough time stringing together steady jobs as a painting contractor — one flight after the other, one layover after the other, and my hope was that the stories or vignettes would ultimately snap together like puzzle pieces.