I’ve been called many things in my life – good and bad (mostly good) – but the other day I was called something that made me stop dead in my scuffed up Mary Janes on the nappy blue carpet, something that made me, for a split second, take a step back and wonder, what the heck have I done with my life? And then I quickly shook myself out of it, because my life, to put it quite simply, is pretty darn great, and so I continued down the aisle.
What was it that actually made me examine my life at 35,000 feet? It wasn’t much. Just two little words. That’s it. But they were two oh so innocent, yet very shocking, little words.
I mean there I was, rolling down the aisle behind the snack cart. It was a nice day. My crew was good and the passengers were great. What more could a flight attendant ask for? I think we were probably somewhere over Illinois when I asked, over and over and over, “Would you care to purchase a snack?” That’s when I heard a scratchy voice located somewhere not too far behind me say something I could not believe.
“Sandvich girl! Oh sandvich girl!”
At first I laughed, and then I turned around. That’s when I realized it was me that the petite frail one wearing black wrap around glasses had called sandvich girl. ME! I was sandvich girl. Dear god, I remember thinking, how did this happen? As I handed the woman a turkey and cheese sandwich and collected a five dollar bill.
“Thanks,” I mumbled, and quickly moved the cart.
Like most flight attendants, I have a college degree. I’ve done the whole nine to five thing. Guess what, I really did not enjoy waking up every morning at the same time and going to the same job where I worked with the same people every single day. Oh no, that was just not for me. Even though I had the kind of job many people would kill for: I designed clothes. (Okay, so they were western clothes, so what! They were clothes nonetheless, and I designed them.) Then I designed watches for a well known watch company. I probably designed a watch you even wore. (Thirteen years ago.) The jobs were great, but I had this strange feeling that something was missing in my life, and that something wasn’t a new car or a new outfit or whatever the money I made could purchase. It was something more. What, I did not know. Not at the time. So I got up at eight in the morning each and every day, jumped into the Ford Probe, drove fifteen minutes to the building where I sat at the same cubicle and worked on, basically, the same thing, until I ate lunch at the same places with the same people, and so on, until it was time to go home. I did this until one fateful day, and that was the day I did not receive the raise I thought I deserved. Of course at the time it felt like the worst thing in the world. Little did I know that not getting that raise turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me. What did I do? I quit. And then a few days later I answered an ad in the newspaper. A no frills airline was looking for flight attendants. Why not, I remember thinking.
“I’ll do it for a few months, just for fun, until I find another job,” I remember telling my friends .
At the time I was determined not to jump into just any job. I wanted to take my time and find a good job. One that paid well. And while I went on several interviews looking for that perfect job, I served blueberry muffins and chocolate chip cookies back and forth between Ft Lauderdale, Newark, Long Beach, and Dallas for just $99 a flight at night. Life was good.
Well one month turned into two, and two turned into three, and after I realized I wasn’t going anywhere, that this was it, I applied to another airline, a major carrier, where before I knew it one year had somehow turned into thirteen. And I still love the job. Actually, what I love, is the lifestyle. The flexibility. The freedom. The excitement of not knowing what the day will bring. And leaving that day behind when I step off the airplane. I love knowing I can go anywhere anytime as long as there’s an airport nearby. Believe it or not, I even like wearing the flammable polyester navy blue uniform. (Please don’t tell anyone.) Oh sure, I wish things were different in the airline industry. Who doesn’t? I mean who doesn’t wish things were just better in the world in general? Hey, that’s life. And my life, I have to say, is good, real good. Even if I am sandvich girl.