Today is a day for remembering. Looking on my Facebook feed, and talking to people today, there are a lot of people remembering where they were and what they were doing when our world here in the US changed forever. The day that we realized that we were no longer safe, and that war had actually come to us. There is now a whole generation of children that have no memory of us not being at war, and under attack. They have been raised with the constant threat of terror and the knowledge that it could happen again. This year though, 9-11 is a little different for me. I am now a part of a huge family that was irrevocably changed by the terrorist attacks, and we live that new reality every day. I work with people who knew the flight Attendants on those flights, who taught them, who visited their houses days before they lost their lives. Today as I sit in the airport on call, I wonder if I will be sent to fill in for a flight attendant who can’t, or won’t fly on this flight, today. As I watch the news, filled with stories of Isis, terrorist threats, and crisis’ throughout the world, I worry. I’ve always watched the news with a desire to be aware of current events, but now it’s different. Now I have a job where I am on the front line. Every day I and my fellow flight attendants put our lives on the line. And we hope to god that we come home in the end. We are trained in CPR, medical emergencies, defusing hostile situations, firefighting, self-defence, emergency evacuations, bombs, hijacking, and terrorist attacks. And every day we hope that we will never need these skills. The chances of using these skills is thankfully very low, but every one of us knows that when we step on a plane it may be the last time. We may never get the chance to say goodbye. We all accept that you have to be a little crazy to do this job, the hours are long, the days are never-ending. There is little appreciation for what you do. You spend days and holidays away from your family so others can see theirs. But, there is a sense of family here among each other. Especially today. While I have memories of where I was 13 years ago, many of my co workers lived it. I’ve heard stories. Always with voices lowered, almost a whisper, out of respect for the fallen. I’ve seen a lot of puffy eyes today.
Last year, I had a woman on my flight with a note for me to read, written by a fellow flight attendant. The note explained that she had been working the day of 9-11, and was flying out of boston, when the planes hit. Her mother was frantic, no one could get a hold of her, and they didn’t know if she was ok. This flight that I was working, 11 years later was the first time her mom was flying since 2001. She said that her Thoughts and prayers were with us, and she could only imagine what we were feeling flying on the anniversary of the attacks. (Nonetheless by the end of the note I was crying, and hugging her mom)
9-11 almost put the airline I work for out of business. Last year I was hired as part of the first people (and growth) that my airline had seen since 2001. Still, industry wide there are less flight attendants making less money than there were in September of 2001. Things have changed. Every flight we walk onto we look for threats, suspicious behavior. We are trained to trust our instincts. We plan out who we can ask for help if something goes wrong, but most of all we realize we are on our own. The pilots are behind locked doors, we are there to prevent a breach of the cockpit, and we are willing to give our lives to do that. It’s a chilling thought.
In the end, I wouldn’t change what I do for anything. I love my job and the family I have with my fellow flight attendants. I am living my dream, traveling the world, and I appreciate and am thankful for every minute of it.