Have you ever thought about what life is like being a flight attendant? Well, one of our flight attendants who is also an instructor at the Canadian Tourism College is here to share her story! Here is the story of Christina Ling!
I was sitting in my favourite coffee shop last Saturday afternoon looking at a pile of my students’ exams and essay papers. I could have easily stayed at home to do this, but I find the buzz of a busy coffee shop gives me the energy to get paperwork done. Don’t quite know what it is, but I do know myself and I thrive best with lots of people around me. When I need a break from reading or grading, I love the distraction of people watching. Must be a Flight Attendant thing.
A cup of tea and red pen in hand, I was ready to tackle that pile of papers staring at me. As I was just about to immerse myself in reading the first essay, the person at the next table leaned over and said, “May I ask what are you reading?” “Are you a teacher?” I put the essay down and welcomed the conversation because anyone who knows me really well, knows how much I love talking about the aviation industry. I can easily talk and talk about airplanes for hours! “I am a Flight Attendant, turned Flight Attendant Instructor”, I exuberantly replied. She responded with, “Wow, that is such an interesting job!” I excitedly responded back, “it is!” What I really was thinking, was that I had a captive audience in which I could extol the virtues of being a Flight Attendant, the “coolness” factor. Because let’s face it, people think that Flight Attendants live this very glamorous, very cool life traversing the globe in our designer uniforms. “It takes a certain person to do what you do.” she calmly spoke to me. For the first time that I could ever remember, I was speechless. After I took a second to process the words. I responded with, “Nobody has ever said that to me before.” “It’s true”, she replied. “I couldn’t do what you do”. This statement resonated with me, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
There is an exercise that I do with my students that is really telling of how complex the job can be. We try to name as many roles as we can associated with “Flight Attendant.” We have named 40 roles in one session. Nurse, doctor, firefighter, translator, mediator, negotiator, sommelier, chef, psychologist and midwife to name a few. Flight Attendants are highly trained and highly skilled to get people off an aircraft should an emergency occur, in 90 seconds or less! But we are also always taking care of people during the flight. Tending to their basic needs and then some, food, water, entertainment, listening to their worries, their good news, their sad news, their frustrations. We are nurturers, we are empathetic, we are always taking care of people. If it’s not safety, it’s service.
When passengers board an aircraft they are essentially signing their lives over to a bunch of people they’ve never met before. The relationship between flight attendant and passenger is of absolute trust. I remind all of my students to be very respectful of that trust.
So perhaps it is true, not everyone can be a Flight Attendant. I can only speak for myself when I say, the people I’ve met, the people I was able to help, the people that have expressed their gratitude has been incredibly rewarding. The glamorous life of a Flight Attendant? Yes, you bet it is.
Thank you for taking the time to read my very first blog post!!! Keep your head in the clouds everyone!