Life Stories

What I Miss About Being A Flight Attendant

If you have been on this journey with me for a while, you probably know that I am a former Delta Airlines Flight Attendant.

The other day I was sitting on my deck watching the big jets I used to fly enter into landing and flying patterns near my home. You would have to understand the altitudes of aircraft to relate to that. Anyway, I found myself becoming a bit nostalgic just seeing landing lights and the roar of the engines as the sleek airliner so ever gracefully glided through the air.

Things really have changed since I started my career in 1974. When I hear about things happening in flight these days, I tend to focus on how it was “back in the day.”

I always looked forward to going to the airport. This was the most exciting place I’d ever been. Many times I would get to work way ahead of time just to watch people as they moved about through the terminals. It was so wonderful to see people from all walks of life and different countries scurrying around with fierce determination to get to their flights or try to figure out where to find their luggage. This was hilarious at times and heart wrenching at other times to observe lost passengers who really didn’t have a clue. Either way, I never saw the same person when I took time to pause for this experience.

Most of the time the same flight crews would fly together so we really became like family for the entire trip. Some assignments were one, two or three day trips. There were a lot of layovers scheduled that allowed us to become temporary residents in a designated hotel overnight. And, if the layovers were long, which typically exceeded twenty four hours, dinner and sightseeing was par for the course- which was packed with a tremendous amount of adventure and fun!

Oh, did I forget being on board with passengers? That was an incredible joy for me because I really love people. There was more time to chat after the service was completed depending on where we we going. I learned quite a bit from investments to grandma’s favorite recipes and heard over 200 life stories! It was a pleasure helping a young mother quiet her fussy infant and to pray with the soldiers who were experiencing their first deployment overseas. The proper handling of a disgruntled passenger simply fine tuned my people skills, especially when I was awarded a commendation for excellent service.

When I began to fly international routes I was so excited! I had the opportunity to travel to: Paris. Rome, Milan, Munich, Frankfurt, São Paulo, Nigeria, Japan, Hawaii, Montreal, Toronto, Mexico City, Montego Bay, Zurich, Copenhagen, Seoul, Punta Cana, London, and some other extraordinary places that would take more time but I’ve got to finish this story! Whew!

Right at this moment, my best memories are the cultural differences and the FOOD! Good thing that I’m not still a Flight Attendant, because the food was so hard to resist. What was amazing is that I was not designated as a language qualified Flight Attendant, but I could communicate with any person even if I didn’t speak his/her language. That’s because speech is not the only way we communicate. We communicate by word, gesture and spirit.

Someone asked if I would be a Flight Attendant all over again? Yes, I would without hesitation. I believe that Flight Attendants are the most unique group of folks in existence; not perfect but perfect for what they do.

This job matured me greatly and instilled in me a great love not only to travel, but to embrace people from all over the world. It helped me to “connect yet respect” differences and be grateful that God chose me to be a FLIGHT ATTENDANT ❤️

Captain Greer commanded my last flight to Rome!!

Personal Development

Visibility

Commercial airline pilots are, in my opinion, an extraordinary group of professionals. Even before I began my flying career, I was mesmerized by their skillful maneuvering of the jet aircraft during some of the most unfavorable conditions. The present generation of highly sophisticated jetliners can practically land themselves, but a VISUAL PERCEPTION is required for every phase of flight. This is defined by the Flight Safety Foundation as, “The greatest distance under given weather conditions to which it is possible to see without instrumental assistance.” Different surroundings can affect a pilot’s ability to PERCEIVE the position of the aircraft during taxi out, take off, ascent, descent, approach, landing and taxi in. Instruments certainly were designed to assist in pinpointing an exact location, but VISBILITY (the pilot’s ability to SEE where he/she is and where he/she is not), is key to a successful flight. Some specific influences that decrease visibility are forest fires, dust storms, fog, heavy rain, haze and snow storms. Even on a clear night, the environment can simulate an entirely different position.

Have you been dreaming lately and have you visualized yourself doing something or being somewhere you never thought possible? Do you have a CLEAR VISION of how to accomplish your intended goals? I know things can get a little blurry and at times we can be blinded and miscalculate where we are and where we need to be. Then sometimes, we have no idea! Helen Kelle, acclaimed author, disability rights advocate and lecturer, lost her sight at a very young age. One of her thought provoking statements alludes to the the ability to see from a different perspective. She said, “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”

When visibility is low during a landing approach, pilots must rely on all resources available to them to hit their target, the runway, to successfully touch down without any mishap. However, being able to see with their eyes, confirms their position. What if there is zero visibility? Well that produces another set of challenges. I’ve been on a flight when the pilot was on initial descent and the CONTROL tower suddenly routed the captain to land at another airport, or DIVERT as it is referred to, because visual contact was not possible. In other words, there was no clear vision that permitted him to land on the assigned runway.

Perhaps you and I lose sight because we have not connected our DREAM(S) with our VISION. Dreams precede vision in that they motivate us to get a clear picture of our life’s purpose. Keep in mind that If all we do is dream, nothing really happens! Consider that dreams provide the PATH to position us at a precise moment in time intended by God. Even if we are suddenly diverted to another place , we will still ARRIVE.

In addition to what we see with our physical eyes, we have been granted intrinsic values of love, compassion, determination, persistence, mercy, faith, and many more instruments that lead and guide us to vision.

Habakkuk 2:2 declares, “Write what you see. Write it out in big block letters so that it can be read on the run. This vision-message is a witness pointing to what’s coming. It aches for the coming— it can hardly wait! And it doesn’t lie. If it seems slow in coming, wait. It’s on its way. It will come right on time.” MSG

Take the first step by writing the vision so that you can SEE and absorb it everyday. Wherever you are, whatever POSITION you are in, know that your vision will come to pass and deliver you to where you are destined to be.

Overcoming Challenges

Jet Lag

I remember my first Transpacific Flight from Atlanta to Narita, Japan which was over 14 hours. It makes me tired just thinking about it. Are we there yet??!! The aircraft flew through approximately five “TIME ZONES”. Merriam Webster defines time zone as , “a geographic region within which the same standard time is used”. Traveling from one time zone to another has distinct affects on the body. According to the Mayo Clinic, these affects are due to exposure to sunlight and fluctuations of our body clock’s rhythm, called the circadian RHYTHM, that can produce symptoms of tiredness, fatigue, irritability, headache, insomnia and lack of concentration. The result of this disruption causes JET LAG. Airspace Magazine puts it this way, “jet lag derives from the simple fact that jets travel so fast through time zones, they leave your body rhythms behind.”

I was a victim of JET LAG for my entire career with Delta. If you’ve never experienced it, I want you to know that it is no picnic! For some crew members that chose to fly internationally, this condition was extremely severe and the recovery process was a matter of TIME. The amount of time for readjusting to normal sleep patterns was different for each individual.

Has it ever seemed as if you were out of RHYTHM or your TIMING was just a little bit misaligned for whatever reason? In your pursuit of PURPOSE, are you are traveling so fast that you get ahead of time or lag behind which causes you to become irritable, out of focus, unable to sleep, and extremely fatigued? Is it difficult for you to distinguish exactly where you are in life? Even after I left my flying career, I recall waking up every night trying to figure out where I was!

Consider this, each TIME ZONE of the earth has different characteristics relative to SEASONS. It’s summer in Georgia where I live, but winter in Rio de Janeiro. In different seasons of our existence, the experiences we encounter should help us locate exactly where we are. On our LIFE’S JOURNEY, we sometimes lose a grip on timing which is key in reaching our true DESTINY. We conclude that we are in the correct time zone or season by gauging external circumstances which often distorts our true perspective of SUCCESS. It becomes incumbent upon us to hurriedly get ahead of God’s TIMING when really we unknowingly LAG behind. This can result in feelings of despair and defeat.

In the RHYTHM of life, SEASONS speak to TIMES. As we constantly pursue PURPOSE without recognizing and embracing the necessary changes of the specific times we encounter, challenges orchestrated by the enemy will pursue us and cause distractions.

We tend to ignore the segmented (zones) assigned to destiny’s pathway. King Solomon explains it this way in Ecclesiastes 3:

For everything there is a season, and a time for every [a]purpose under heaven: 2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; 3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6 a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 7 a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

Remember that your TIME ZONES are in His hands, as encouraged in Psalms 31:15.

Equipping for Success

Travel Documents

There are several items needed to successfully board a commercial jet liner when desiring a specific destination.

Among the most essential are TRAVEL DOCUMENTS. Why? Because our identity must be established for SECURITY purposes. This assures the airport authorities of proper AUTHENTICATION. In other words documentation verifies you are legally, without a doubt , the person who has obtained a RESERVATION on that particular flight, which grants you ACCESS to your ASSIGNED seat.

The process of reserving your space on board, is the starting point in obtaining travel documents.

Pertinent information must include your name, address, date of birth and country of citizenship. Passports are required for international travel which is more in depth due to strict entry rules of the countries involved in your journey.

To further explore DOCUMENTATION, an added benefit is created known as the ITINERARY, to assist you in your travel plans.

To use this in an everyday term, it is your PLAN enroute to your destination. The itinerary includes, your name, flight number(s), departure/arrival times, flight duration, connecting cities, meal preferences, etc.

Should all of these documents SEAL your identity, you are issued a boarding pass/passport which certifies you have RIGHTFULLY substantiated WHO YOU ARE. If at any time ACCESS is denied, that indicates there has been a question concerning your identity.

In our LIFE’S JOURNEY, there are many instances when we question our IDENTITY. In several of his teachings concerning PURPOSE, Dr. Myles Munroe often challenged us to ponder the following question, “WHO AM I?” Could it be that we are sometimes victims of IDENTITY THEFT orchestrated by the enemy attempting to steal the IDENTIFYING factor of Christ in our lives?

The word of God tells us in Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart for my holy purpose, I appointed you to be a prophet to the nation.” (God’s Word Translation)

Imagine that, God created a RESERVATION for us even before we were formed in our mother’s womb! The only documentation HE requires is evidence that we have received His only Son, Jesus, as our Lord and Savior.

The itinerary has been carefully and skillfully planned by Him and our identity SEALED (verified as God’s child). The latter part of Ephesians 1:13 declares , “When you believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promise of the Holy Spirit.”

Through the shed blood of Jesus, we have ACCESS to our Father, God and we can discover who HE says we are in HIM. This allows us to have the confidence we need to pursue PURPOSE. Understand that your times are in His hands, ( Psalm 31:15).

You and I have been made righteous (in right standing with God), because of the redemptive work of Christ, to reconcile (restore) us unto himself. Even though sometimes the journey causes us to doubt our IDENTITY, it is imperative that we TRUST THE PROCESS.

Embrace these words from the Apostle Paul, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Jesus Christ returns”.

If you are unable to prove your identity to the airlines, you can rest assured that God knows who you are and all that you are meant to be.

Sojourning

Reflections Part 2

I want to pause again to share another segment of my Life’s Journey that includes the first job I received before being employed by Delta Airlines.

The desire to travel increased with each passing day of my life and any indication of the idea, was constantly with me. While browsing through a magazine one day, I came across an ad that read,”Be A Stewardess or Look Like One.” I thought, this is my opportunity! The advertisement was from Atlantic Airline School and when I observed it a little closer it really had nothing to do with flying! What was interesting though was that, I could use this as a stepping stone to where I eventually wanted to be.

Atlantic Airline School offered training in Airline Reservations, Vacation Planning, Ticketing and Fare Construction. The training consisted of a six week home study course and after that, graduates were placed in selected cities across the country for in person training. The cost for this program was $800.00.

My father was not to thrilled about giving up that amount of money for something he wasn’t to certain of, but because he usually gave into my passions, I was enrolled right after High School with the condition of, “you’d better get a job after you finish.”

The three cities listed to attend training were Inglewood, California, Kansas City Missouri and Atlanta Georgia. My first thought was, California here I come! Not so fast missy-California was booked solid, so I tried for Kansas City. No openings were available there. The last place I wanted to be was in Georgia. The racial tensions were quite high in Georgia during the 70’s and I was gripped with fear at the thought of being in that state. Nevertheless, I would go anywhere to be in a totally different environment.

My application was submitted and in the year of 1972 I was notified of my acceptance. Placement for training was in Atlanta, Georgia. The very first thing that captured my attention, was the Hyatt Regency Hotel that could be seen from I-75 traveling North. It was referred to as, “the blue glass bubble in the sky.” All of the tall buildings were so amazing because of course I’d NEVER seen anything like them in Belhaven! What’s so hilarious is that, the Hyatt Regency in downtown Atlanta is now obscured by many skyscrapers overwhelmingly many stories high.

My place of abode for an additional six weeks of training was the Georgian Terrace Hotel on Peachtree Street. An allotment of rooms were purchased by Atlantic Airline Schools as dormitories. It too has undergone some massive reconstruction since the 70’s. I think it is referred to as, “The Luxurious Georgian Terrace Hotel.”

The training course was very detailed and challenging, but because I was so eager to learn, I excelled in all areas. I graduated with honors and was hired by one of the most prestigious Travel Agencies in the country, Henderson Travel Service. This company specialized, and still does, in Travel Tours of the African continent and has received many awards for distinguished service. When I arrived on the scene, there was a dire need for an expert in Domestic Travel. Yours truly fit the bill! I was in charge of front office operations and formulated travel arrangements for professors of Atlanta University, i.e. Dr. Benjamin Mays, local politicians such as Mayor Maynard Jackson, Ambassador Andrew Young, Dr. CT Vivian, Dr. Martin Luther King, Sr., Mrs. Coretta Scott King and Mrs. Christine Farris, sister to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. My interaction with these wonderful people is something I will always cherish. As a side note, I was thrilled to have Mayor Jackson as a passenger on flights several times to Washington D.C. during my career at Delta!

There were many others that I had the privilege of meeting as well. Marketing Representatives frequented the office with travel updates and I befriended several of them. One in particular was with Delta and I was always inquiring about working with Delta as a Stewardess, as they were called at that time. He kept urging me to apply. The only problem was I seventeen and I had to wait until I was eighteen years old. That my friends was about eight months away! I applied any way and I was invited for an interview a short time after my birthday.

Guess what happened? They did not hire me! That did not deter me because I know my destiny had been sealed. I contacted the office of another person I’d met who worked directly with hiring. I asked him why would I not be hired with my knowledge of travel and customer service. He put me on hold for about three minutes and returned to inform me that one more could be added to the next class for training.

My training with Delta Airlines began in September of 1974, two years after I first stepped foot on Georgian soil. This was a dream come true! This dream fueled my passion with determination that still views every experience as adding substance and value to the essence of who I am.

A final thought: NEVER LET GO OF YOUR DREAM!!!!!

Adapting To Change

Holding Pattern

Have you ever been cruising along the paths of life and suddenly, everything just STOPS? I know COVID is a good example, but let’s put this distraction aside for a moment and consider many other matters that can catapult our lives into a “HOLDING PATTERN.”

As this relates to air travel, a HOLDING Pattern is a route followed by an aircraft above or near an airport while it “WAITS” to land. The source may be due to bad weather which causes reduced visibility, a saturation of air traffic during peak travel times, or runway closures.

Passengers and crew members are imprisoned above the earth until the air traffic controllers release the jetliner for the landing approach. A scenario such as this could take hours and the end result would usually cause missed flights or extensive delays. Sometimes the captain has to abandon the pattern and deviate to another city because fuel reserves are running low.

When faced with such an occurrence onboard a flight, passengers become angry, impatient, irritable, confrontational, resentful and the list goes on! Eventually, your flight arrives at “A” destination. Bear in mind that I said “A” destination, not your destination. Destiny is not always about OUR choosing!

HOLDING in itself is not an inconvenience for the most part. Mirriam Webster defines HOLDING PATTERN as, “a state of WAITING or SUSPENDED activity.”

The pilgrimage through existence consists of our tireless attempts to attain destiny our own way. Even our greatest efforts encounter delayed progress that induce anger, impatience, and resentment. When we are in the HOLDING state, we would be greatly benefited, if we would allow the development of what we need to align with God’s timing.

It would appear that sometimes, dreams are SUSPENDED by outside influences and we dare not look inside to recognize that WAITING expectantly is incorporated in the process of time. Being in a HOLDING PATTERN permits us to gain perspective, reveal our capabilities, redirect our lives or in some cases, even save our lives.

Even when intentions are not what we have planned, examine the great possibilities when JOURNEY lands us in strange and foreign places. The adaptation in the experience will reap great rewards.

Proverbs 16:9, “We can make our plans, but God determines our steps.” (NLT)

Equipping For Success

Baggage

Most of us are acquainted with the guidelines for travel on board commercial jetliners. One specific rule I want to address is “BAGGAGE.”

We deem baggage as necessary pieces of equipment for travel, packed with everything to ensure comfort for the journey. Although there is much wisdom in being prepared, sometimes we just carry too much “STUFF”!

During the boarding process, there are set public announcements made by the Flight Attendant that declare ,”ladies and gentlemen, please be aware that all carry on items must be of the size and shape to fit securely underneath the seat in front of you, or in the overhead bins provided.” It continues, “if you have any carry on items that can not be placed in either location, please notify your Flight Attendants, we will be happy to check them for you.” Those announcements still resonate with me, because, the proper stowage of luggage was one of the greatest challenges of this procedure.

The reason for this is that, most passengers did not understand the safety issue involved if a crucial evacuation took place. Each traveler must have a clear pathway to escape impending danger in the event of an emergency without any restrictions, hinderances, barriers, or blockages to transition to another level of security.

You may be the person at the window seat who has properly stowed your luggage, but your fellow traveler seated on the aisle has not complied! Your expedient departure from the aircraft will be restricted by that obstruction. Ask yourself, “what would be my response?” It would be incumbent upon you/or them to remove that barrier so you can get out! If nothing is done, you are STUCK!

I previously mentioned that our travel equipment must include essential items. Let’s be honest, there is some “STUFF” we don’t really need.

Whenever I embarked on a road trip, cruise or a flight, I would typically overpack! This sometimes caused me to incur an excess baggage fee. That would result in money that I could have spent elsewhere!

When we are filled (overpacked) with an excess of worry, insecurity, doubt, fear, unforgiveness and yes, I’m going to go there, non essential people, just like the unsecured luggage, these issues will keep us from moving, more precisely, having a clear path to destiny. There is a price to pay for for being weighed down with obstructions. We lose focus, our health is affected, we lose hope and most of all the route to destiny becomes a little foggy.

We carry up-ON ourselves these burdens not realizing that we have an escape route. Obstacles are a normal part of life, but rest assured, they are necessary. On our journey remember, “the PATH to the prize is more valuable that the prize itself.”

If I may quote Henry Ford, “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” When you encounter those frightful things, listen to the comforting words of the Apostle Paul:

I Corinthians 10:13 , “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more that you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way of escape so that you can endure.”

Equipping For Success

Refueling

I usually don’t make any kind of New Year’s resolutions going into the New Year, and 2021 won’t be any exception. However, what I do attend to is, REASSESING, RECCOMMITTING, REFOCUSING, REINVENTING, REPOSITIONING, and most of all REFUELING 365 days a year.

Pay close attention to words with the prefix, “RE”. Webster’s dictionary defines “RE” as, again:anew. Another definition is again and again, to indicate repetition.

I’ve discovered that in each month of years past, it benefits me most to give constant attention to situations and circumstances, which require additional adjustments necessary to enhance the DISTANCE to DESTINY. The equipment crucial to ensure that I can go the distance changes from day to day. Why? , because I am ever evolving and my needs, and your needs have to adapt to each encounter in life. Some of our most valuable articles are, FAITH, PRAYER, RESILENCE, UNDERSTANDING, PATIENCE, PEACE, ENDURANCE AND LOVE. These tools function best at the times when we need them most.

I’ve always been amazed at how long a jumbo jet can travel nonstop to Europe. Most long haul flights are equipped with enough fuel to fly thousands of miles without ever having to REFUEL depending on the charted course. Once it has reached its destination, refueling is vital for the return trip to the original departure city. One single aircraft can acquire many miles as it DEPARTS and ARRIVES repetitiously. Commercial aircraft can develop “aircraft fatigue” by this constant repetition and must undergo REEVALUATION for airworthiness. If any type of issue is located, it must be taken out of service for repairs. Guess what, these evaluations are not done every year, but each day! It is incumbent upon the aircraft mechanics to determine that all jets in the fleet are maintained for peak performance.

If we are pursuing DESTINY, then we must be engaged for the long haul, not at the beginning of each year but every waking moment of our existence. Let us realize that bringing God’s intentions for us to the forefront on a daily basis, will REFUEL or spirits, minds and bodies to endure ALL the challenges we have faced, will face and face today. Sometimes we can become fatigued because as in the poem by Langston Hughes ,”Mother to Son,” life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.” The theme of the poem is to never give up no matter what obstacles hinder you.

The years will come and go again and again. By constantly REVISITING our direction and seeking all of the attributes God has given us, we are equipped to continue this never ending journey. He is the Master Mechanic who knows the length of our paths and how much we can bear under pressure and fatigue. To maintain peak performance, be REMINDED that He is always present to guide you and guarantee that we operate at PEAK PERFORMANCE.

I leave you with this powerful scripture for DAILY meditation:

Isaiah 40:31 -“But those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up on wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”