Frankly, it never occurred to me that they would actually hire me when I applied for the job of cabin attendant at KLM. Sure, I did want that job badly. What better could one dream of than getting paid for travelling around the world?
I presumed – no, I was convinced – that I wouldn’t make a good stewardess so my application was another case of ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’. After sending it, I didn’t spend days next to my post-box, looking out for the postman. I forgot about it and just went on making plans for my future.
So I was rather surprised when I received the big YES. Even more surprised (completely flabbergasted!) were my family and friends. Some of them were even rude enough to suggest that KLM might have made a mistake (thank you for being my friend). But I did understand their disbelief because ‘clumsy’ is my middle name. This does have some advantages: no one would ever ask me to help washing dishes, for instance. Another reason for my loved ones to have difficulty in imagining me as a stewardess was a simple one: how would I survive on high heels? My footwear mainly consisted of flip-flops, sneakers and boots (depending on the season), so I understood their doubts.
But I did survive on high heels, and I still do. And though I did break a few cups and glasses, my clumsiness decreased and I’ve stopped giggling every time I tell someone that I’m a stewardess.
Furthermore, I learned that there is more to being cabin crew than ‘getting paid for travelling around the world’. We also get paid for being flexible, patient, alert, understanding, accurate, strict, friendly, decisive, empathetic, proactive, approachable and genuine. Our job is about handling time differences and jetlags, sleepless nights, hundreds of different cultural habits, sudden changes in our schedules (and therefore in our private life) and much more. It’s about tuning in to the different needs and moods of hundreds of individuals on every flight.
I went berserk when I got the big YES back then. I still think I’ve got the best job ever because I’ve seen so many places, met so many people. Each one of them with a different story, a different reason to travel. And I hope to meet many more.
I feel honoured to share my weekly experiences with you, right here. And I’m looking forward to learning about your experiences too.