About being 32,000 ft above the ground

I love my job

I love my job

Juices, water, soft drinks. More cups. Too much water. I am preparing the cart for the next service. I am doing it mechanically, I feel like I’ve done it so many times now. In the meantime somebody pops up in the kitchen and asks me for the tea. I make the tea, we talk.

Where are you flying to?

This is the question I asked so many times, it could be my name now. It comes out of my mouth naturally, feels almost like I was breathing it out. But it isn’t worn out. The answers still make me smile. The interest on my face is not fake. I want to know. I still can’t believe all the crazy places that people go to, and all the different reasons they have. I am just as passionate about traveling as I was being seventeen. There is more that one million reasons to fly.

The man asks me whether I miss my family. We’ve been already flying for ten hours. I haven’t slept for around twenty, the time zone change is killing me. It is dark in the cabin. All the windows are closed and most of the passengers sleep, some of them stretch their legs next to the kitchen, some watch the movie. From time to time I open the window blind just to look outside, but there is no Sun, it is still dark outside. All the big cities we are passing by look like Christmas trees. Looking at them calms me down. I think about what people do. I wonder whether they are happy. Once I saw how the half of some city got cut out from electricity. I looked at it, and the part of it just turned black, like it was never there.

You know, when the mine gets cut off, or some massive shopping center, everything just stops, people panic, some die.

But when I am up there and I see a part of the world going black, I don’t think about any of these. It is too far away to think about it. It just doesn’t feel realistic.

When the man asks me the question, I feel confused. I do miss my family. And I miss my friends. But I haven’t seen the Sun for more than fifteen hours, we are going West. What I miss the most at this very moment is the world. I think about blending strawberries. I want to blend strawberries. I miss the sound of the cars in the morning, when I sit on the balcony and drink my tea. I miss it how the day changes, how it cools down in the evening and people go out from their houses. I miss people riding their bikes. I miss making a grocery shopping and sitting in my bed eating chocolate. All these things feel so far away. They feel much more afar than these 32,000 ft that actually separates me from them and I don’t know which reality is real: the one up there, or the one I miss.

It is still five more hours to go. I feel tired. But not frustrated. I am doing my job. There is a young mum with a nine months baby girl on her lap in my cabin. The baby girl cries, and the older lady sitting next to her tries to help her best. She smiles.

There is around sixty people in the cabin I am responsible for. All the different kind of people: mother with babies, elderly going on the life trip, students, people who don’t speak any English, people who are tired, sad, happy, excited. I probably won’t recognize their faces on ground, but that is okay, they won’t recognize me neither.

One man comes to the kitchen to stretch his legs. I get him a water. His accent is Australian, but he tells me he goes to Warsaw. It makes me happy. We change to Polish, which uncomfortably distances us with it’s formal “Pan, Pani” (tr. Sir, Madam). It takes a while until our native language start sounding natural.

He moved to Adelaide in 1981, running away from the occupation in Poland. He tells me about these times, and they are still alive in the way he talks about them. There was nothing there, only fear, it didn’t look anything like Poland he is going to see again in next 10 hours. I asked him, why Adelaide. He doesn’t know. He didn’t choose. It was the only place he could go to right now, and back than he couldn’t wait, so he took his things, he took his wife and moved to the other end of the globe, knowing anything about it. We talk for quite a while. He says that life in Australia is just easier. It goes smoother, and that is where he belongs. But we also agree on the way it feels to hear your mother tongue up there, when you don’t expect to hear it at all. It feels a little bit like, out of a sudden, you were being reminded of who you are by a stranger. It is not an easy feeling to describe.

When I am in the plane I think differently. I think a lot about the consequences. I think what may happen, if this container is not latched properly. I think what may happen, when you stand up from your seat too early, or don’t put your seat belt on, or when I am too tired to think and to focus my vision at the fixed point. It is a job and as every job you do most of your time, it turns into a routine. But the part of my routine is also to think, at every single take off and landing, about how to evacuate all of my passengers the quickest I can. Whether I can open my doors or not. Whether I can open or block my doors if we land on water. I make sure whether the sound that the plane made, while the wheels got out is normal. Whether the wing looks all right. I think about where the oxygen bottle is, in case if the lady sitting in front of me looking pale faints. I wonder what medicines takes the older man in the other seat and whether it won’t work differently in the cabin pressure.

What I wanted to say is, that after fifteen hours flight you can forget you are the human being. You don’t think about whether you have to do washing next day or not, or whether your bills are paid. Up there everything is different. The air feels different. The sounds are different. Me, other crew (that I only met few hours ago), and all the three hundred people who go around the world for their own, unique reasons are in this all together. You can be tired to the point you are not sure whether you can stand straight, but you are responsible and there is no way out. I think this is my greatest lesson from my job. There is no way out different than patience.

Being a cabin crew is not only about going to all these amazing places and taking photos with the Eiffel Tower, buying all these great souvenirs and sending postcards to your friends, looking great on the airports.

You know what do I dream about when we get on the ground? That maybe somebody waits for me with the flowers on the airport. I always catch myself staring at name plates people hold on waiting in the arrivals meeting point. They stare at me too, but none of the plates has my name written on it. We go straight to the bus, load the suitcases.

The job is done.

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