For some stews, it has been their childhood dream and they have dozens of childhood photos with a flight attendant uniform, pretending to serve chicken and beef to glamorous passengers. For others, it is a convenient way to see the world without paying unbelievable amounts of money for airfare and centrally-located hotels. As for me, it just happened.
I was working as a teaching assistant in a kindergarten, when my sister told me she saw in a newspaper that the national airline is hiring. I was in the middle of planning another backpacking trip to Southeast Asia and applying to universities, and decided to give it a shot. After less than a week, I found myself in a testing and assessment center for the airline.
For the first time in my life, I was dressed formally in a suit and light makeup, amused how far it is from educating preschool children (of course, I did not know yet how similar working in the cabin is to care for infants, and how useful my skills for solving fights between 3 year olds will be up in the sky). After a short interview in English (just to see I know how to tell people to fasten their seatbelts and whether they prefer coffee or tea) and an SAT-like computer test, we started the group dynamics.
Then, besides trying to find creative answers to the classic question why you want to be a flight attendant (“I’m great with people” and “I love dynamic jobs” sounded a little cliché at the third candidate), we needed to solve complex problems like what to do with tall people who find their seats uncomfortable or people with special dietary needs that did not get their special meals. There, opposing to math exams, clogged sinks, or actual life, the point is to not solve the problem, but to keep smiling, be super-nice and compassionate and go over and over again on the phrase: “I know how you feel, I feel so sorry for you. I promise to do my best to help you”.
After being (apparently) nice enough and never stopping to smile, I got the message that I got accepted. When the course started, I realized I do not possess the required feminine skills. I cannot put on nail polish properly, I do not know how to braid my hair, and I find putting on eyeliner as a harder task than running a marathon. Well, okay, maybe a half-marathon. With a little help from my friends, I managed to look like a real flight attendant for the duration of the course, when we learned about chicken, beef, coffee, tea and lots of tomato juice. No, I have not figured out yet the reason why people choose to drink this pasta-sauce drink on flights.