Changing my life one jumpseat at a time
Jayde Atchison // Opinions Editor
Walking home, I looked into the garden next to my apartment building and saw a few of my neighbours enjoying the summer breeze, cocktails in hand. They waved me over and were in the middle of discussing what jobs everyone would want if they could go back in time and start over. One said he would be a pilot, but there was a restriction on corrective eyewear when he was younger and he never pursued it. One said she would have dabbled in more fields before becoming a mom. The table turned to me and the question was again asked, and I thought about it for a second and answered, “I feel like I did go back in time, because my answer is flight attendant.”
I was raised to believe that there was one path to follow — graduate high school, get your degree (it didn’t matter in what), get a job but make sure it had a pension, and then work until you could retire. I did the school thing, in fact I did it for ten years and ended up with two degrees and a certificate. I was still working at the rec centre as a lifeguard because it already crossed off two important needs — a good wage, and a pension. I wasn’t really using my degrees for anything other than side gigs that didn’t pay much. I was nearing thirty and an irritating voice was constantly pulsating in the back of my brain asking, “is this really going to be your life?”
I hadn’t really done any traveling or accomplished much memory making — my life was a revolving door of school, work, reading, working out and sleeping. I was dreading being “a big girl” and getting a job that suited the latest degree I had earned. Sitting in an office, or working from home seemed like a punishment. I wanted flexibility, excitement and for every day to feel new. A few neighbours of mine worked for an airline, two years ago I told them I had always wanted to be a flight attendant, but I didn’t think my second language would be strong enough to get a position. I confessed that I gave up and never pursued my dream, and assumed that it was not in the cards for me.
Those neighbours, and soon to be friends, gave me links to job applications, names to use as references, and a push to start a career that could change my life. I didn’t get an interview the first time around and decided to apply as an airport employee so I could get a foot in the door and maybe have a better chance at the end goal. I was quickly hired, halted my old life with a two week notice for my old employer and began a life in aviation.
I loved the fast-paced environment. Even when passengers were yelling at me because I personally ruined their holidays, it was a thrilling job and I loved coming to work. I loved watching planes and YVR has some of the most impressive sunrises and sunsets — not to mention the flight perks. Shift work wasn’t always easy and it could be a draining job, but I was in love. I knew the airport gig was a means to an end, but I took it all in until then. I applied, and applied and, after three applications were rejected, I finally got an interview to become a flight attendant.
I packed my bags and headed to training — many weeks of intense drills, terrifying videos that made me question if I wanted to get on a plane ever again, and an exam every two days. I cried, I laughed, I sweat more than any one person should, but I graduated and began flying. I have always been told “when you know, you know” when it comes to love and relationships. I had no idea the same was true for a job. The moment I stepped on my first flight, in my crisp new uniform, I felt at home. The head flight attendant introduced me to the full plane and mentioned it was my first day — the crowded Boeing cheered and for once I wasn’t cringing at people clapping on a plane, I felt welcomed.
Since that day in May 2023, I have been on over 102 flights — that’s 102 times that I have felt like I finally found what I was looking for. This is the first time I have felt connected to a job, in a way that contentment washes over me and I know in my gut that this is where I was meant to be. In the sky, discovering new cities (even the small Canadian destinations), and growing as a person. I took a chance on a career that wasn’t a part of the white picket fence model and it was the best decision I have ever made. I get to explore the world and tell people I am doing the job I always wanted, without inventing time travel.