As silly as this sounds, you don’t start a career in life to make friends. You start your career with similar intentions of perhaps when you started university, but instead of an education as your ultimate goal, when you start your career getting your paycheck becomes your goal. If you went away to school somewhere outside of your hometown, then perhaps you started with the intentions of making friends as well, but if you commuted to your school much like me, then you probably never really intended on making lifelong friends in college. And similarly enough, you probably had the same feeling when you started your career post-university. Of course you weren’t cutting yourself off from the ability and opportunities to make friends, however you weren’t expecting it.
So that is why when I started my career in the airline ndustry a bit over two years ago, I never really expected to make friends out of it. My life was pretty solid and I had a great group of friends that I had grown up with. For the first six months of my career I was transferred down to the Dallas/Fort Worth area, and I was forced to move to a place far away from New York where I cherished my lifelong friends. So it is no surprise that when I first moved to Dallas that I tried to make friends. I reached out to fellow flight attendants, I joined a local library book club, and explored and participated in local community events. As anyone who has moved to a city far away from home before alone will tell you, one of the hardest struggles often not associated with moving is making new friends.
People tell you “hang out with your coworkers”, “go to church,” “join a sports team,” and to “reach out to people and network.” But trust me, all that is much easier said then done. Especially with a flight attendants schedule. I can barely commit to plans with my friends that have a steady 9-5, let alone commit to plans with other flight attendants who have a crazy work schedule just like mine. So the first six months I established that I probably was not going to make any friends in Dallas, I would put my transfer in for New York, and I would go through an emotional roller coaster of ups and downs and benign depression.
Eventually my transfer request was accepted, and the end of living in the Lone Star State would come to a much needed end. I was finally free to move back home to the city that I so dearly missed, and I know missed me back as much as a city could miss some one. It was that time of the year where all the holidays are within arms reach from one another, and it certainly was the most joyous time of the year because I knew that I was getting to move home.
One of the first trips I ever worked being based in New York was certainly one to remember. I had sat reserve the first month that I transferred to New York, so I basically had no say of the trips I worked, or where I was going to go. At any moment the phone could ring and you have three hours to get to one of three airports (EWR, LGA, or JFK), to go anywhere in the world from Austin, Texas to New Zealand. But my first trip was not either of those. In fact I was sent to a place where other flight attendants constantly complained about because of the clientele on the flight. I was told to be prepared for a plane full of misbehaved children sitting in coach while their parents sat in first class, fur coat overload, and requests for absurd things such as sparkling water with lemon and red wine imported from France in economy class. If you have not guessed the destination to where I was sent the answer is Vail, Colorado. And if you are a flight attendant, I am sure you just cringed at that sentence alone.
It was just a day or two after Christmas on a Saturday night, and as I was at a family Christmas party when I was drawn to the loud ringing of my cell phone showing a call from no one other then Crew Scheduling themselves.They had informed me that I had a trip that following morning (keep in mind it was already midnight at this point), at 6am. The Vail flight that was supposed to leave that night had canceled due to a mechanical issue and the flight had been delayed to the next morning. So alas, a whole new reserve crew was called out. One crew (including me) was scheduled to deadhead to Vail and then work the flight back, while the other crew did the opposite. Why we did not just work both legs I am still unsure of to this day.
But there I am sitting on the aircraft waiting for the plane to start boarding and the gate agent runs down on the plane asks me if I am deadheading over to Vail. I explained to her that I was. She informs me that a crew member is running a few moments late and asks me if I would step in and board the flight for her. Being my usual self, I told her I did not mind and that she could start the boarding process. A few moments later in the middle of boarding runs on a flight attendant with no Crew ID, Ugg boots, leggings and a half buttoned shirt. This flight attendant was called out last minute the night before just like the rest of us, left her Crew ID at home, and was already having a not so great morning especially considering we had to go to Vail. We had instantly bonded and chatted about how when we landed in Vail we planned to get off the aircraft and take the legendary “flight attendant sitting in front of the engine” pictures that are practically every flight attendants right of passage, since we knew that in Vail we board and deplane using ramp-stands and we would have the opportunity to do so.
Fast forward to that moment we had finished deplaning in Vail, and despite the snow falling from the sky outside and the freezing cold temperatures we still went outside and took our pictures in front of the engine. It was definitely a moment for bonding, and little did we both know that on that legendary day when we both got called out for our legendary Vail turn, that the both of us would leave making a friend. A friend that we both can confide in everything from work to personal related issues, some one to vent too when reserve is too tough, some one to walk the other through a tough trip, and some one who makes it fun to have a layover with no matter if it is Waco or Rome.
I am so happy I have gotten to spend the last year and half flying with an amazing buddy bidder (aka work wife), and I look forward to all the trips we will get to work together in the future. From Philly, to D.C., to Los Angeles (twice), to Paris, to Rome, to Dublin, to Montreal and to London, and until the next time, XoXo.