Memoirs of a flight attendant
I was never the “I wanna be that when I grow up” kind of person, but at 29 I’m 100% certain, that I wish to be a flight attendant now when I’m all grown up, if that could ever happen.
Currently caught between an ocean of people who pity me for wasting so much time not investing in a traditional career, not taking my studies seriously …
and the puddle of people who value my experience, the multitude of moments I’ve lived, the path I’ve taken, the discovery, this controversial career, with all its implications.
I don’t know why while we live it, we all say it’s a shallow life, it’s all temporary, while at the end, we understand it was something that stays forever, something that made us grow as an individual.
I remember the girl listening full of hope and innocence to “Perfect strangers- Jonas Blue”, the one who wanted to go and see the world and never stop exploring. I must have forgotten her somewhere over the years. Any lost and found desk has a package for me?!
A note from August 2019. Soon after I understood that I was living my best year to date.
True, sometime then, I stopped overjoying myself with planning trips and exploring new amazing places. I adored chilling in the hotel rooms with the view and my favorite foods. Didn’t need the company, not the crew, not the ones I’ve just met, I’ve become more and more restrictive to whom I’d share my time with and I see it as a great thing. I’d recharge in my walk around the hotel, or in my favorite supermarkets over the world.
In the last two holidays I got to take I was exhausted by it all, the stand by, the worry, the rush, the lists of what to see, I just wanted to breath in, exhale and only live. And maybe share it all with someone I love, if it’s not too much to ask.
My time in Abu Dhabi had become so precious, I had my routine, my people, my dancing moments. I was getting to know myself in the best way when the pandemic started.
Thank you for leaving. I can love you from a distance, I can hope you’re happy. I don’t even know if it was you, or the USA I loved after all.
So this was a note from May 2019. I perfectly recall the feeling and all I can say is, man, how wrong could I have been. First, don’t get dependent on someone, don’t base your happiness on them, you should be happy for yourself first, then with and for the others.
Secondly, well, the hardest moment I had to live up until now, was receiving the email saying that I was laid off from Etihad. Tears came flooding down my cheeks and lasted for months. Don’t want to lie, it still happens. Nothing hurt as much as finding out I lost my world. I dare to compare it with someone’s death. I feel as I lost a dearest person. It was a part of me that got ripped away. And it was not my choice, that is the main thing most of us struggle with.
This goes to all the parents who don’t get it( I’m not even going to dare to say to all the “friends”). It’s not the lack of money and independence, or the loss of the lifestyle that gets us depressed. It’s losing who we were, all that defined us over the years. Don’t take us superficially, don’t joke over us, don’t just throw it in the” this too shall pass, other had it worse “ category. Over the course of this last year I realized how strong I am, I can overcome it all, but some aren’t, some can’t.
Also some former crew don’t feel my words, for some it all was means to an end so when that end came, they felt relieved and happily moved on already.
My biggest regret is I didn’t grasp at the fullest my actual flying moments, while in uniform!
I sincerely miss those times I was barely dragging my heavy suitcase in an extremely long airport( see HKG, LAX), or dropping it down the stairs in Manchester and Edinburgh.
Take Chicago, it has so many “hats” in my heart. As a city, I don’t like it, yet, it was my standing request as a layover. Nobody understood how can I want this flight. It was the top 3 crazy busy annoying frustrating tiring flights. Trust me, I remember all the “lovely” Indian passengers who never stopped asking for everything available and unavailable, who woke themselves up for the popcorn service, who left the lavatory as a tiny lake and of course, who never fit their bags in the overhead stowage.
I promise you I’m laughing my heart out recalling the above moments now. Fitting bags from the back of the aircraft all the way to the front was my favorite part of the flight, the struggle with my shirt half out from my skirt, with the coat button too tight for this action and the forehead sweaty under the hat.
Also I loved being aft galley, as in, in charge of the kitchen, the preparation and service, because why not do it all?! Almost always I was closing bars, too. Many times I would land in ORD and realize that apart from the time in the crew rest, I’ve never sit down for a second.
But, boy, how did I sleep while in the rest compartment. During the more or less 4 hours I would always be freezing, tucked in like a baby, having the weirdest dreams and resting for the entire layover. I’m getting goosebumps now at the thought of it.
In a few days it’s gonna be a year since my last flight. It was a night MUC, easy, almost empty, back when the pandemic started and our only worry was the mask.
I remember my grocery shopping from that store near by. Bumping into too many crew.
I remember that last roster change, it said I’ll be deadheading in a few hours, same as us all, from all over the world, because from the next day, no flights were going to depart.
All the joy downstairs in the hotel lobby, among the 30-40 crew, trying to imagine now how the 380 sets felt.
I remember thinking how an amazing picture it would be of us all walking in the airport with the suitcases( because somehow we managed to be organized), but I was in the front and thought …
it’s fine, I’ll have another chance someday
Little did I know. I almost never got this destination, with the airport I flew via any time I was flying back to my family, it’s a creepy coincidence if you ask me.
Back in AUH, when testing procedures were in their first days, we were waiting in the buses, at over 35 degrees, early morning, thirsty, tired, hungry, not able to use the restroom … we were hundreds of crew whom probably saw each other for the last time and didn’t even know it.
No more “have a good rest” ,”safe flight”, “crew seat for arrival” no more confusion when asked where you just landed back from, no more excitement for the next month’s roster.
Today, after too much heartache, I’m the best version of myself. One that I selfishly share with a handful of people. One I keep stuck between these memories, with a wish to have back what was taken from me; and the need to start over and feel alive again.
Do you know where to draw the line?
Do you know what you can’t live without and what you’re willing to let go of?
I wanna write again. Should I?
Throwbacks to layovers