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September 29
2014 年 9 月 29 日

也是一種權益

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幾年前我搭乘美國一家航空公司的班機由芝加哥飛東京。途中,我由商務艙的座位上站起來往洗手間方向走去。一位體型寬大的空中小姐叫住了我:「年輕人(其實我也五十好幾了,並不年輕),請幫個忙,提一下這個托盤。」為了博得我的同情,她特別強調說:「我都六十五歲了(難怪在她的眼中,我還是個年輕人)!長途飛行有點力不從心。」

「唉,這麼辛苦,還不考慮退休?」

「我還不是最老的呢,我們這行有位八十一歲的空中小姐,服務頭等艙的旅客。」她解釋道。

經過了解,原來在美國有航空公司讓年紀較大的空姐(有些是否該稱為「空媽」或「空婆」?)服務前面的艙位,年紀較輕的(其實也不怎麼年輕了)則服務後面的艙位。這種邏輯和東方的航空公司用人原則,簡直大相逕庭。乘坐商務艙或頭等艙的旅客,由年紀較大的空姐提供服務,到底是期待誰服務誰啊!

這種作法體現了美國與東方文化的一個差異,它基於一個基本的理念:在美國,工作人員退休與否完全由個人來決定;當事人若不想退休,沒有人可以阻止他繼續工作。

近年來,由於經濟原因,很多人被迫選擇延遲退休年齡。此外,工作年限愈長,年資愈深,也就自然可以享有資深者的權益。

正因如此,年輕的空服員大都在國內航班上服務,中年空服員在經濟艙服務,年長的則在商務艙服務,至於超年長的,就享有在頭等艙服務的權益了。

註:本文曾載於聯合報(2014年8月29日)。

A first-class right

Several years ago, I flew business class from Chicago to Tokyo on an American airline. During the flight, I got up to use the lavatory when a flight attendant stopped me: "Young man, please give me a hand. Could you hold this plate for me?" (I was in my fifties then, hardly young anymore.)

To win my sympathy, she went on: "I'm sixty-five now (No wonder she thought I was a young man), and can't take long-haul flights very well anymore."

"Oh, that must be hard. Ever thought about retiring?"

"I'm not the oldest. We have flight attendants as old as 81 working in the first-class cabin," she explained, not wanting to drop the subject.

I learned later that older flight attendants working for US carriers usually work in the front section of the plane with the business- and first-class passengers, while younger ones work in the middle and rear sections.

Such practices contrast sharply with arrangements on airlines in the East. It might be awkward for older flight attendants to serve business-class or first-class passengers. With concerns over respect for older people, who will end up serving whom?

This practice also embodies cultural differences between the US and the East. In the US, you decide yourself when to retire, and no one can force you to quit.

Recently many people in the US have felt compelled to postpone their retirement for economic reasons. This means that more people are working to an older age, thus gaining in seniority, and enjoying their enhanced status.

This is why younger flight attendants usually work domestic flights, their middle-aged colleagues work in coach, their older peers work in the business-class section, and the oldest enjoy the right to work in first-class.

Note:
This article was originally published in Chinese in the United Daily News (29 August, 2014).

29 September, 2014

 

 

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