Tokyo, London, Russia, Paris, Melbourne, New York City, Shanghai, Amsterdam, Melbourne, Bombay – the list goes on.
And that was my life before you.
COVID-19, you really caught me off guard. Being a flight attendant has led me to be away from home most of the time but your arrival has allowed me make up for lost time with family and friends, so thank you.
But now, my livelihood is taking one big hiatus. It has been 4 months since my last flight to Germany and finally, a few days ago, I was fortunate enough to work my way to London and back. Being back at work made me realise how fortunate I am to make a living out of my dream job and I was beating myself up these past months for not treasuring my occupation more. The standbys I usually pray for to be removed are now my silver lining. It’s funny how things have taken a turn because of you. When I went back to work, I had a ton of new information, rules and regulations to take note of. I could barely remember my primary duties when I boarded the plane and as I navigated through the nozzle-like aircraft. I realise I actually do enjoy gliding through the galley like a bumblebee but one thing I sure do not miss is tidying up the sometimes-disastrous lavatories, hahaha. Being back in the air made me miss attending to passengers with the most peculiar requests and I also do miss having breakfast for dinner and embracing the worst sleep schedules. And of course, I miss donning the kebaya, my pride and joy. All these made me regret not savouring my pre-COVID-19 working days.
Working during this pandemic means I have to don on a mask and protective goggles when passengers board the aircraft. It is obviously nothing compared to the full PPE suit front liners have to wear, but I got a piece of that experience. With the goggles pressing the sides of my head in addition to the strings of the mask straining against the back of my ears, it’s definitely a recipe for a headache at the end of the flight. I think of just how I’ve taken for granted working 30,000 feet in the air without all these restrictions that make it doubly hard to breathe. COVID-19, you’ve certainly taught me not to take things for granted in future when you are finally gone. Although I was back at my favourite station, I was cooped up in the airport hotel for the 24 hours that I was there… My favorite scones and steak were literally minutes away but I eventually knocked some sense into myself that you are REAL and people are losing their lives to you. My scones, steak and tube rides can definitely take a back seat for now.
Despite my temporary job loss, COVID-19, you’ve brought me closer to my family and friends. Although I often did get sufficient rest in Singapore before I flew off to the next station, it felt like I was never really present in my family and amongst friends in the past year-and-a-half. Roster after roster, country after country. You made me realise the thick coats and warmers I wore in Russia were never washed by me but they "magically" became ready for my next adventure. My friends could no long confide in me immediately when they were down and out. These broke my heart. However, now I have the opportunity to decide how to spend my precious 24 hours with them and I realise I could not have done these things without you, as you came along and changed everything, and I thank you for that.
It is because of you that I have come to seek a deeper connection with my family and friends. I have also come to appreciate the joy and tribulations my job entails. I also had the opportunity to reflect upon the fragility of life and to take this life of mine more seriously. Thank you for showing me all these in a short span of time. I may miss you and the time you’ve given me to reconnect with my loved ones, but you mercilessly take away lives too, and that’s why it’s a bittersweet relationship with you. So I ultimately still hope you’ll be gone soon. In the meantime, I optimistically stride towards the day when the world is finally safe again for everyone.