A cute little old lady walks slowly down the aisle during boarding. “Excuse me, are you the stewardess?” she asks. A millisecond of panic. Another millisecond of hesitation. Shit, I think I know the answer to this question. Am I the stewardess ??? “Uh, yes!” I quickly say with a smile. She reaches up shoves her boarding pass towards me. “Where do I go?” I look down at the wrinkled paper. “Eight B. It’s right behind you. That middle seat over there.” She smiles back, turns and walks to her seat. Whew, another problem solved by the stewardess, that’s me. Or as my British friend call me: Air Hostess. My personal preference though is the more professional, politically correct term: Flight Attendant.
Unlike quite a few my co-workers, I never ever dreamed of becoming a flight attendant as a kid. I wanted to be a lawyer, doctor or maybe even a poet. Sure, I visited the airport more frequently than the average person since my grandfather worked there as a sky cap, but I can’t say that I ever watched planes take off nor had any interest in flying. On plane rides that I did take, I always was sleep and drooling before take off.
Come to think of it, my mother was actually scared to fly, so when I and my brother traveled with her, we drove everywhere.
It wasn’t until I went to college and traveled abroad to South Africa for the first time that I then knew travel would be an important part my life. But when I grew up and became a consultant working on public affairs and consumer marketing projects, I always envisioned eventually becoming an entrepreneurial mogul of sorts that would be whisked around the world on a private jet.
Several years after launching my consulting practice, I wasn’t quite mogul status but I was jet-setting quite a bit. I was hoping on and off planes (commercial ones) a few times a month working on client projects in different cities and sometimes out of country. I enjoyed racing to the airport, navigating new places and quickly establishing the lay of the land so I could get the job done.
Still had you asked me at that time what I would be doing ten years later, zipping from city to city as a flight attendant would still have not been on my radar. To me, flight attendant was like being a waitress, janitor or highway toll booth worker – it was just a job, not a career. It wasn’t something I aspired to. In my arrogance, little did I realize about the amazing travel perks and the opportunities it could bring.
So, while my blog bio suggests that I planned my career transition to become a flight attendant, I did and at the same time I didn’t. The truth of the matter is that after over a decade of being the CEO, junior assistant and head janitor of my own business, I was burned out. Client budgets were getting smaller and with my expenses were increasing , I was ready to do something different — although I had no idea what. All I knew is that I wanted it to involve more freedom to come and go as I pleased. Still, if you had handed me an occupational handbook with every job listed, I would have for some reason skimmed over flight attendant as the perfect fit.
Eventually, after number crunching and some soul searching, I decided to call it quits with my consulting business after about 12 years. I closed up shop and let go of a house with an upside down mortgage. For the first time in my life I felt as if I had I failed and failed big.
It would be a couple of years before I recovered from such failure.
When I finally began bouncing back several years ago, I was renting a room in Atlanta from a God-sent friend whose daughter happened to be a flight attendant. One day simply out of curiosity, I asked her daughter more about her job. Having a more humble and realistic perspective on working to live versus living to work, flight attendant actually sounded like a really cool job. The schedule sounded flexible enough where I could still freelance if I wanted to and of course, I would get to travel!
Shortly after our conversation a few days later, she told me her company was hiring. “Go on the website and apply,” she said one day as she was once again running out the door to the airport. Since at that point, I needed a job with a steady paycheck, I figured why not. But I still didn’t think I would actually get the job.
But, next thing I know, I’m being interviewed and offered a spot in a training class after agreeing to move to wherever I’m assigned. The rest is kinda a blur.
From that point on, sometimes it seems as if one day, I just woke up and found myself living in a new city, walking through airports with bags in tow and pointing to exits on planes. And all the time wondering how did I get to be so blessed to have such a life – one that has not turned out as I planned but so far has been awesome one nevertheless.
And so, this is how a new chapter of my life which I call the Second Act began…
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