The year was 1989, I was around 4 years old; myself and my mum were about to embark on a flight visiting family in my Grandad’s country of birth of Bangladesh. My mum was getting me all safe and secure in my seat, when I noticed the most glamourous woman gliding down the aisle assisting passengers on her way; she then preceded to mess around with some complicated piece of equipment (I later learned this to be a tank of oxygen and was performing her safety checks!) and then sat down in her seat ready to take off. My mum can remember this moment in my life very clearly as I questioned her for hours about who this lady was and what she did on the plane to then announce to her that
‘One day mummy, I’m going to fly all over the world like that lady…’
Little did I know that some 20 years later my childhood dreams would actually come true.
Since graduating from uni, I have had my fair share of various jobs trying to find my place in the world trying to find out what my heart truly desires and which path to take concerning my career. It was so incredibly difficult to work out what I wanted to do and not being the back packer type of person, that wasn’t even an option; I really feel for those who are either leaving college or uni these days. I got my first graduate job as a conference coordinator but felt like I was chained to my desk- such a far place from that childhood dream of flying around the world. So, after getting extremely fed up I decided to take the plunge and actually apply for the job for a Middle Eastern Airline- just like the lady on the plane; alas, I got through the X-Factor style assessment day and I was on my way to the sandpit (a name of endearment to expats residing in the UAE- just an FYI).
I couldn’t actually believe my luck! I was training in one of the most prestigious training academy’s for cabin crew in the Middle East, spending days off by the pool, on the beach and shopping to my hearts content with my tax-free salary, paid for apartment and transport to and from work; and to top it off surrounded by amazing friends who became instant family. Life was sweet- then the flying started…..
I went to some absolutely amazing places- literally all over the world too! I was travelling, getting paid for it and staying in some top notch places too- perfect, no stinky hostels or dodgy folk trying to rip you off right, left and centre! Don’t get me wrong though, being cabin crew is really tough and really hard work, working over 14,000ft in the air is no picnic, let me tell you!
There is one story I wish to share with you from one of the many flights I did, this was my return from Athens back to the sandpit; looking back it makes me giggle everytime so I hope it puts a smile on your face too.
My parents had come to visit me and in between days off I had 1 standby duty, the way it fell meant that legally I was only able to work from midnight that day until 23:59, a minute later and it would have been against the rules, so the number of flights I could work were limited, which meant my chances of being called out were very little: I was very wrong. Gutted. Not only was I called out, I was called from the minute my standby duty started at 6am, to fly to Athens and back, which meant I was gone from 7am until 10pm! GREAT! Every cloud has a silver lining though, my crew were absolutely amazing and I had one of the best and most memorable flights to date, a half full flight going out and coming back meant it was a ‘let’s take it easy’ flight- happy days!! We fly to Athens, re-fuel, re-stock, receive our new passengers and we head back.
We were nearing the end of the flight, as I was working the galley it was my responsibility to ensure all the containers and carts were counted and sealed. The seat belt signs came on which meant we were starting our descent- at last!!! I was getting my outdoor shoes on, when I heard a cat-like scream really faint in the background; being at the back of the aircraft didn’t help at all as my other crew couldn’t hear a thing! I was convinced someone had smuggled a cat or an animal onboard, so I began my search in the overhead compartments, under the chairs and in the seat pockets- nothing?! Then I noticed- the toilet door was locked and the noise was getting louder (by this point the crew thought I’d gone mad and we needed everyone to be sat down and belted up!), my mind was racing thinking that someone was in severe pain behind that door. So I knock once ‘hello, can you hear me?’ a scream. Another knock ‘hello, can you hear me in there??!’ Another scream and then a bang! Oh that was it, I had to get in there, someone was seriously hurt, so I unlock the door to get inside and what I saw will never ever leave me…..
A man, of Asian descent was squatted over the toilet with his feet on the seat, his arms were out beside him and his hands were pressed against the walls that he was clearly using as leverage! I’d walked in on this man, pushing out the most painful crap of this life!!!! Oh. my. gosh. I could have died, not only with embarrassment but the smell completely overwhelmed me and the rest of the passengers on the back row!! I quickly slammed the door shut and turned around to 2 of my crew members who were absolutely howling with laughter!!!! Absolutely mortified the man came out of the toilet and scurried back to his seat and sat down and he made sure he belted up!
I learned an important lesson that day. Those in need will let you know, some how; don’t always assume because sometimes you will end up with egg on your face, or in my case the rancid smell of it up my nose, forever.