Picture this: You have a job that pays you to travel. The company actually pays you to get on a plane, sling out some hot dinners and a breakfast, take a nap on a normal style bed on the airplane, wake up in Europe, have pre-arranged transportation to the hotel, and end up in a hotel room. You get into in your room, take a nap and then go shopping on Champs-Élysées, or throw some coins into the Trevi Fountain and wish to come back to Rome again next week, or lay out on the topless beach in Barcelona. With the amount of time you spend in Europe you consider yourself a part-time European Union citizen, or perhaps even a citizen of the world. You have perfected how to order your coffee in French, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese. You have even learned enough of those languages to navigate the grocery store and look for things that you like efficiently in those countries, respectively. You are a rewards card member for not only the Stop & Shop near your home in the States but also the Monoprix in Paris, the Esselunga in Milan, and the Carrefour in Barcelona.
In reality, you know where the yogurt you like is located in the Monoprix in Paris better than the grocery store that is down the block from your home. Your life is a series of flights you are on without ever really knowing the flight number, long hotel hallways where all of the room numbers blend into one, and you seem to have a wallet full of Euros, Czech Kronas, British Pounds, Pesos, Brazilian Real, Japanese Yen, Thai Baht, and Hungarian Forints but sadly no U.S. dollars. You know the songs that are trending on the French version of MTV. You have learned about our country’s upcoming election from foreign news sources such as BBC, Rai Italia, and Channel News Asia more than your local T.V. networks at home. Business hours do not exist for you, but time zones are no joke. In the grand scheme of things a four-hour flight feels short to you, and you just do not understand why people would fly six hours just to go from New York to Los Angeles when for just about the same amount of time they could fly from New York to the United Kingdom.
If any of this sounds familiar to you, you probably fly for an airline, much like I do. But I did not start out flying these amazing routes right from the beginning, and to be honest my measly two plus years of seniority does not even get me close to holding these trips outright either. When I first started flying (I was based in Dallas at the time), I was the queen of Texas Twirls, as we call them. Little short-haul flights on the Super 80, usually less than an hour flight time, and never actually leaving the state of Texas in a day. Yes, I know what you are thinking; Texas actually is that big. Up-down, up-down, all day, every day. Dallas to Austin. Dallas to San Antonio. Dallas to Lubbock. Dallas to El Paso. And maybe if you were lucky you would get to leave the state and land your hands on a Dallas to Tulsa, or Dallas to Oklahoma City route.
But I’m not writing this blog post to tell you that I have transferred to New York within recent time, and am able to land my hands on some pretty amazing routes most of the time, unlike most of my friends that are still based in Dallas. And I am also not writing this to gloat, in any way, or rub it in. The truth is I am writing this post because some part of me misses the uncertainly that this job promised. The promise of going to new places, ending up in cities you have never even heard of across the country, and just simply being open to exploring and never passing up an opportunity.
Flight attendants often judge their trips based on their layover city, and I myself am guilty of doing just that. I search tirelessly and endlessly for a FCO (Rome) or CDG (Paris), because I am comfortable there, and have my routine. I feel at home in those places, and I love the comfort of being at a home away from home. My layovers have become standard and routine, something I always laughed at when I heard senior mamas say. Gone are the days of spontaneity and discovery and now are the days of slight certainty and predictability. I have gotten my hands on these premium routes that my friends in Dallas dream of, and to me it has become just routine.
And through this I look back at the days, the days where I made some amazing memories in what I thought were not so amazing cities. Like the time I rode the train up to Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs, Colorado with my crew and we got featured on the local news because it was opening day and we had no idea. Or the time I went on a date to a brewery with this gorgeous boy I met in Fresno, California. Or the time I met a young regional pilot while checking into the hotel in Dayton, Ohio and we bar hopped together. Or the time where I picked up an Anchorage, Alaska trip and went biking down the coastal trail. Or the time I went to a bar filled with vintage arcade machines with my crew in Columbus, Ohio and played Pac-Man all night. Or the time my crew and I toured the PBR factory in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Or when I walked the Riverwalk in San Antonio, and visited the Alamo. Or the time I ended up watching a little league baseball game in San Diego with some boy I had just met that day (still not quite sure how all that happened to be honest). I’ll stop here as I am sure you get the point, and I don’t want to inundate you with some of my fondest memories of domestic flying.
But with all of this what I have learned the most? That while being able to fly to Europe almost weekly I have gained an enormous amount of culture, but I have also acquired a side of connectedness, as well. But not conceitedness in the typical way you might imagine, where one is full of themselves, but rather conceitedness in the way where I have grown to expect to fly these routes. In a way where the job of being a flight attendant is always so unpredictable, I have sought after a brief glimpse of predictability and routine, despite not really wanting that. I’ve gained easy comfort in knowing that my Cafe Doppio is waiting for me at La Casa Del Caffe Tazza D’Oro across the street from the Pantheon, or that the cold Macaroons I love are always available in aisle cinq in my local Monoprix.
And ask me to my face if I miss flying those domestic routes to Middle America, and I will probably deny it. But deep down a part of me craves that adventurous wild side of David that could make any layover memorable whether it was Little Rock or Miami. And after all is that not what life is about? Collecting a bunch of memories to look back on? I think so.
Fly safe my little kittens, no matter where ever you go, and do not shut down any opportunity that presents itself, because you really never know what could become of it. Comment below and tell me your fondest layover memories, I can not wait to hear all about them. Until next time, XoXo.