What It Means to Be American
A National Conversation


The Sacramento Bee Publisher Cheryl Dell

I Wanted to Be a Flight Attendant, But I Wasn’t Tall Enough

June 20, 2015

Cheryl Dell is president and publisher of The Sacramento Bee. Before moderating a discussion on the women of the American West, she revealed that she once worked as a photographer for Santa, that her drink of choice is pretty boring, and that as a kid, she wanted to be a flight attendant when she grew up.

Q. What’s your drink of choice?
This is so boring, but it’s actually water. And my second drink of choice would be coffee or really good wine.

Q. If you didn’t live in Sacramento, where would you be?
Somewhere overseas. It’s such a big, beautiful, interesting world that I would probably find someplace in Europe where I could live and meet people and learn more about the history.

Q. What’s the strangest job you’ve ever had?
Taking children’s photos over Christmas with Santa.

Q. What was the last board game you played?
Worst Case Scenario—if you haven’t played it, you really should. You answer questions about survivalist situations, and how you can make your way through. It’s a MacGyver-like game. It’s very fun.

Q. What’s your favorite cliché?
If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got.

Q. As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a flight attendant, until I was told that I wasn’t tall enough to pass the physical. That was about middle of high school, when I realized I couldn’t be a flight attendant—I wasn’t 5’4”!

Q. What keeps you up at night?
All kinds of things. But I’ll give you the Kennedy quote—people who have “the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” I think we’re in a time when we don’t seek information the way we should.

Q. What’s your favorite recent Bee story?
Oh my goodness, that’s a hard one. I always like the accountability work and investigative work that we do, so my favorite recent big story took a variety of different databases that evaluated nursing homes and put them together in a way that allowed readers who needed those services to evaluate their choices. And the story was about the web of ownership of nursing homes and how convoluted that’s become.

Q. Describe your singing in one sentence or one word.

Q. What do you think it means to be American?
It means you have wonderful opportunities and can live a wonderful life.

*Photo by Felipe Ruiz.