THE BEGINNING OF
Looking at my watch and seeing the time, really scared me. I had this anxious feeling and I started breathing heavily. Why did I allow the alcohol to take over and why am I not responsible enough to get home in time? As I walked out of the restroom, I somehow managed to find my friends dancing at the bar. I ran to them and told them that we had to leave right away. They somehow didn’t respond and kept on enjoying the music. “Come on, we have to leave now! We are late and won't reach home in time” I yelled. Somehow, they didn’t seem bothered and I started doubting myself in a weird way. Suddenly my friend came to me and said: “Daniel, Relax! Its only 1.46am. We will leave in two hours, we will get you home safe”. At that moment I looked at my watch and indeed… I’d made a mistake, we still had enough time to enjoy ourselves. Relief washed over me, because how stupid would it be to break the rules on the first day.
As we enjoyed the night, it was time for us to go home. We called a taxi, asked him to bring us to our accommodation and he did. Before disembarking we told each other to act normal, sober and walk straight to our building. There are often cases where the security reports crew, because they were too drunk to walk to their building. Whenever something like this happens, you will receive a letter from the company that you have to come and explain yourself. Being in the middle east and especially in this company, you must avoid all these things. The trick is to live this anonymous life, where no one really knows you exist. So far, I’ve managed to maintain the anonymous life. We counted to 3, disembarked and slowly walked into the accommodation. Really focused, completely silent and eyes on the destination we walked towards our building. We were with the four of us and were doing pretty well. You would never have noticed that we had even taken a sip of alcohol. Meters away from our building, my friend said he couldn’t take it anymore and that he felt like he had to throw up. “No, please…we are almost there, and you are almost in your room, please bear with us!”. Suddenly a security guard was meters behind us. Shit…Ok, listen.. whatever we do, walk fast and please don’t throw up. Breath in and breath out. At that moment the it seemed like the building was moving away from us and the guard was getting closer and closer. I was so nervous at that time and prayed that my friend would make it to the building. Suddenly my friend started coughing and I thought, this is the end. Exactly when he started coughing the security walked pass us, but luckily, we made it to our building safely. Thank god we did.
That morning I showered, went straight to bed and slept for 10 hours. Waking up, I was already on my minimum rest (12 hours before the flight) because I had my first ever flight the next day. Again, I woke up with this empty feeling but also excited for my first ever flight. I’d managed to survive the two months of training and would finally start doing what I’d come for. My first two flights were observation flights. This means that you observe what the others do, but you participate as much as possible. Four hours before the reporting time, I started preparation for the flight. Preparing for the flight is all about checking the destination, flight number, flying time, the crew onboard, time difference and the service we will be doing. My very first flight was a turnaround to Pakistan, Islamabad. Turnaround means that we will land in the country, wait for 1 hour, welcome new passengers and fly back to our home base. About the flight, there was nothing really positive to say and I remember my instructor saying: “Guys, just hope that you don’t have Islamabad as your observations flight, because it will make u hate your job”. Of course, lucky me, I had it as my first observation flight and to put a cherry on top, it was overbooked.
An hour before my pick-up time, I started to get ready. I cleanly shaved, which is a must whenever going on a flight, brushed my teeth and applied crème. Again, I felt this excited feeling coming up. A feeling which reflected on actually living a dream. I wore my uniform and it was time to go to the crew center. The crew center is a separate area, were all the cabin crew gathers, does their briefing and goes through security. Whenever this is done, we embark the crew bus and go to our aircraft. The briefing started right on time, with a round of introduction. During the introduction, you say your name, where you’re from and how long you’ve been flying. When the introduction is done, we discuss the information about the flight and then we have a grooming check. There is a grooming check before every flight, which means that the grooming officer checks each crew, to make sure they look representable and up to standards to go on the flight. Whenever this is done, the supervisor asks safety, security and first aid questions. Each crew gets one question. She started with safety and security and I was hoping to get a very easy question at that time. At that time I was thinking about everything we’d learned in training, still hoping to get a very easy question and preferably not a first-aid question. Suddenly it was my turn, … first-aid. “what is the breathing rate of an adult, Daniel?” Shit… I didn’t know… and luckily this other crew member helped me out and the supervisor was super nice.
It was time to go to the aircraft and do the flight. My very first crew was super nice and helped a lot. We came on the aircraft and started doing our safety check and security search. At this time, we do all the pre-flight checks of the equipment onboard and check if there are no prohibited items in the aircraft. Again, they warn me about this flight and the rudeness of the passengers. It was time for boarding and my colleague came to me and said: “Daniel, this can be a difficult flight, customers are rude, but just be nice and stay calm. Do your best”. After a couple seconds, the first customer boarded the aircraft, looking all angry and not amused. After that the other customers came. It was a mix of happy, angry, not amused and quiet people. After a while, boarding was completed, and we were ready to go. After 20minutes in the air we started to service, and they gave me cart. I was quite nervous and started to feel hot. Not sure if its my nerves or just the temperature in the aircraft. After serving some people, it happened. The situation the crew warned me about. While I was serving a customer another one started yelling at me. Like loudly yelling at me and saying: “you are going too slow, I am hungry, and I paid for this shit. I want my meal and my drinks now. I cannot believe how slow and stupid you are. How can u make me wait? I Paid and want a good and fast service”. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, my mind was running wild. This is not what I signed up for and this is not how I imagined the job. This is not how you treat people. I looked at the customer and after he was done yelling in the whole cabin, it was my time to respond and believe me, when it comes to disrespect I’m not afraid to lose my job.