22nd June 2020. Today marks two years since (re) joining the jet setting lifestyle of cabin crew after a 2 year hiatus.
Today also marks day 83 of furlough during what is a pretty rough time for everyone in this industry, with huge uncertainty about the future. For a while now, I’ve felt myself spiral into the negativity surrounding our current predicament. It was time to have an honest check in with my own thoughts and feelings, to try and rationalise my various frustrations with the job and lifestyle that I have chosen. This is my way of reminding myself of the silver lining around the huge storm cloud of current events.
On multiple occasions during these two years, I have said to myself that I’m done. I’m done with the jetlag. I’m done with the commute, the delays, the missing home, holidays, birthdays & countless family gatherings. The dry skin, my first wrinkle! The eye bags. The unexplained (?) weight gain (pretty sure it was the 7 smoked salmon starters I smashed at 3am over the Atlantic along with the creme anglais…).
I’m done with wishing that I was making these memories on the other side of the world with my loved ones and not alone. Most definitely done with the emotional rollercoaster that is landing day, sobbing uncontrollably because they shouldn’t have left the Brontosaurus on the Island to die (note to self: don’t watch Jurassic World on landing day EVER again).
I’m done with the unreasonable requests and sometimes very unnecessarily rude passengers. Even though I’m British, and you know how much we Brits love an apology, I’m done with having to apologise profusely for catering mishaps that should never have happened, delays and aircraft technical issues I don’t understand (the APU thing needs to be disconnected from the ground thing and then the PTU does this other thing… what?!).
I remember standing at Door 3R in 40° heat because the aircraft A/C was broken. It was a full flight that hadn’t even taken off yet, but my shirt was essentially see through with sweat already (gross) and pax were fainting left, right and centre. I remember thinking, I’m Done! And I am done with doing all of this (plus way more) while running on no sleep and maintaining that ever important smile.
I won’t lie, this present redundancy and furlough situation has tested my sanity for one, but also my resolve to continue doing this job. I have found myself scrolling through job websites on so many occasions, thinking of what I could possibly do next and being decidedly overwhelmed by the shitness of the job market right now. And then I find myself thinking ‘would it be such a bad thing getting culled… you’re done with it all, right?’. Right. Except … wrong. So wrong.
Because the truth is, there is no job like it.
I found this photo today and it is one of the happiest memories that I’ve made whilst travelling as crew. I can distinctly remember looking up in awe of her eyelashes and the warmth of her eyes!
And as I continue to scroll through my photo albums, all I see are happy memories. Yes, they are severely jetlagged and sometimes lonely adventures, but adventures nonetheless, some of which people have only dreamt of doing.
I have been able to tick off bucket list moments one by one: great white shark diving, feeding giraffes, climbing mountains and snowboarding in the Andes, eating proper sushi in Tokyo, riding a helicopter around the Grand Canyon, climbing Sydney Harbour bridge, playing with wild monkeys in Kuala Lumpur, seeing multiple Wonders of the World… I could go on!
I’ve made new friends (some lifelong) in a community of some pretty amazing people. They often quickly become your adopted family for a couple of days, and 4am jumpseat chats have solved many an existential crisis.
I’ve had the opportunity to fly with my sister and go sandboarding in the desert of Abu Dhabi then cycle around the F1 track. Because of this job, I’ve taken my fiancé to Japan, Cape Town, Barcelona and Iceland to help him realise some of his own bucket list dreams.
I’ve met some incredible people on board, all with their own stories to tell and with 10 hours in a metal tube to hear those stories. I’ve had the opportunity to comfort people who desperately needed a shoulder to cry on, calm nervous flyers who just needed patience and care. I’ve helped over burdened mothers with their gorgeous bubbas just to have a chance to breathe and go to the loo.
Yeah okay, glorified sky waitress, right? Wrong, again. Doing this job gives me a chance to truly help others in an environment they don’t understand, dealing with a whole host of situations from fights to medicals, acting as the bridge between the air and ground to bring someone back from the brink. It’s exciting, important and immensely rewarding. It’s taken me a while to realise the value of it.
I have always been someone who wants to try every career possible because my interests are SO broad. I find this extremely frustrating about myself; one day I want to do something with my history degree and the next I want to save the environment and all the animals along with it. But this role is perhaps as eclectic as it gets: I get to be caretaker, waitress, nurse, firefighter, bouncer, chef, counsellor, mediator, teacher and (potentially) rescuer all in one shift if necessary (although that would be a particularly harrowing flight !) Throw in a few hours to have a cocktail or two at the other end and Bob’s your uncle! It’s unlike any other job role I’ve ever had or will have in the future.
If I’m one of the unfortunate few to be made redundant, I’ll be losing a lifestyle as well as a job and I’m beginning to realise that now. I’ll be losing something that has totally enriched my life through incredible experiences and people. Something that has truly changed me as a person (I like to think for the better, although my fiancé would argue landing day me is the worst kind of me…)
So, while there are many, MANY things that try to convince me otherwise, I know deep down that this role is special, the people are special, the uniform is special.
And the truth is, I’m not done yet.
There are huge challenges ahead in this industry. If I’m one of the unfortunate souls to lose my job because of it, I know it’s likely I won’t find a job like it ever again. For now though, if it is to end this way, I want to forget the negativity for a moment and simply appreciate all the incredible moments and memories it has afforded me. My 20’s certainly wouldn’t have been as fun without it.