So I finally got my wings. Those silver emblems mean more to me than I care to admit after six weeks of physical training and the mental and emotional equivalent of an MMA fight.
Rewind a couple months before graduation. I’m sitting in my room wracking my brain about how I was going to tell my parents that I wanted to take a break from my liberal arts degree at Reynolds Community College to become a flight attendant.
I wasn’t happy with the progress I’d been making relative to my friends. My job as a membership coordinator for the local YMCA at the time left me feeling about as useful as a cassette tape. I needed a change.
My entire family left Trinidad in November 2009 hoping for better opportunities in America. I sat in that room feeling guilty and selfish for wanting to chase my dream, not the one my parents envisioned for me.
There was a knock at the door. My mom walked in, sat on the edge of the bed, looked at me and said, “Jo, have you ever thought about being a flight attendant?” Maybe God got tired of me whining but those words were golden.
I honestly believe being desperate for a change at the very beginning of the year worked in my favour. Finding open flight attendant positions, applying and going on interviews went on for about three months. In all, I landed three interviews.
The first one was an online video conference. They saw me but I couldn’t see them. There is something about sitting at your dinner table professionally groomed from the waist up that doesn’t quite make you feel at ease. I flaked.
For my second interview, the airline flew me to Texas. This interview made me feel like a small-town girl in a room full of pros. I looked the part, too: black pant suit with a girly white blouse accented with pearls.
My hair was pulled back and I wore a smile from the moment I pushed the doors to the conference room. But try as I did to look mature my nerves were shot. Cue tendency to “over-share” when I get nervous.
This interview had two phases and although I made it to the end, I knew I messed up. My confidence gave out after that one. How in the world would I be taken seriously if I flap my gums when I should be composed?
For interview number three I decided to take a road trip with my best friend. We split the hotel bill. I wore the same outfit from my last interview and my game plan was basically to think before I opened my mouth. My career as a flight attendant was in front of me.
I faced a clip of senior flight attendants in the conference room of the Marriott in Stafford, VA, near D.C. Each candidate gave a 60-second introduction then had a brief one-on-one interview.
I got the call the next day offering me a position as a flight attendant trainee. There was an email with guidelines, rules and details about my pay during and after training — a guarantee of 70 hours a month at US$17.25/ hour, paid on the 16th and last day of the month. Because I didn’t live in St. Louis, me and some other flight attendants also got $1 per diem while away from base.
I had three weeks to quit my old job and get ready for training. Once I got through the six-week slog I would be OK’d for take-off and I’d get more hours. Excited? Very. I’d always pictured flight attendants living glamourous lives. I was so ready to start living mine.
But then reality struck.
Stay tuned for more.