Friday, September 9, 2011

How did I end up here anyway?

Post card from

Often I am asked how I became a flight attendant.

My family had always encouraged me that I was fit for the position since I was a little girl, especially my grandmother who would send me flight attendant magazines from Japan on a monthly base.
I thought it would be a nice way to see her occasionally too.
As soon as I was old enough (19), I planned to pursue the position.

I didn't do it right away though, and waited since I decided to pursue my dream to be an Olympic athlete.
I passed up going away to college versus traveling around as a junior athlete, competing around the country. I would attend classes at a community college in my home town and traveled on weekends to tournaments.

About a year and a haf into my intense training with a personal coach, an ankle injury (torn ligament) sidelined me and through some anguish and time off from training, I decided I was ready to start my career.
I attended my first Open House for my airline when I was 20 years old in Los Angeles.

Having no idea how a 'real' job would be -- let alone how life operated, I can't even tell you how I came off, but nonetheless after two rounds of interviews and medical, I was hired and went through 7 weeks of training in my home town.
It was an awesome feeling when I was accepted for training, as my airline was only hiring at a ratio of 1:100 at the time, and I felt like I've accomplished something.

My language skill probably helped and the fact that I had just finished a 2 months stint as an interpreter for the Olympic Game for the biggest news agency in Japan probably didn't hurt either.

Many of my co workers would disagree with me but I myself enjoyed the training immensely.
It was my first adult experience, and since I never attended a four year University, it was sort of a faux dorm life I never had.

By-the-minute schedule, stale cafeteria food day in day out, the fine dining class (with roast and caviar, sorbet with mint leaf, etc.) that lasted for hours and hours, the make up class, the PA and demo class, walking around the airport at midnight with classmates for 'aircraft fam (iliarization)' class, the stress and pressure of our weekly tests and quizzes (not to mention the emergency section of the training), and the drama that ensued as one of our classmates got 'cut' -- it was a full experience that til this day I remember fondly.
When we learned (or tried to) about our scheduling, most of us were more confused when we walked out of the class then when we walked in.
These are just a snippet of what we learned during our 7 week stay at our training center.
There are just so many layers and components to being a flight attendant, and this training taught me that.

We encouraged each other and held each other up through our hills and valleys.

When one of our classmates passed away during the first weekend at training, each one of us took it hard, and differently.
Some of us had to leave to go to our first training flight just hours after learning the news -- for a while our class was an emotional mess.

Once we finally graduated, we were based in two different cities, and it was a learning experience from there.
Like anything else, things you were taught in classrooms were not exactly the same in real life, and I would be so confused with some of the lingos, I would pretend to know some when I had no clue what my crew was talking about. ( i.e. -- "We will satellite this cart.")
All the different personalities that I had to deal with onboard - crew and passengers - was absolutely overwhelming to me.
(As time has gone by, I had become such a homebody.)

I stumbled through my first 6 months and made it through my 'probation' period without a problem (sort of).

Thank God for being young.
It made making mistakes that much easier, and to forget.

Through many, many, many, many, many laughs, some tears and occasional urge to hurt someone, I literally grew up in the aviation industry.
Nothing will ever replace my memories I had with my airline and the friends I have made.

Almost 15 years, here I am again, basically a new hire as a corporate FA in a slightly different setting.

I am hoping my next chapter in the aviation industry will be just as fulfilling and wonderful.