Never have i been more in love with being a flight attendant as I was yesterday, never have I felt so happy to be serving people, and never have I felt so appreciated in doing so.
Eighty men and women who served our country in World War II and the Korean War boarded our plane with eager smiles, being escorted by their ‘helpers’, big hearted individuals who spent the day making sure ‘their vet’ was taken care of. With each pair that passed, my heart grew bigger, so much love was boarding my plane, so much excitement, and so many memories tucked inside those eighty heads. I’m sure most days go past without thinking of their days of war, but on this kind of day, those memories are welcomed to roam freely, move to the front of the line, press play on the slideshow that lies inside from nearly 80 years ago. I welcomed each and every one, getting lost in my appreciation for being there with them. I savored every moment, knowing I only had their presence for a total of 5 hours; back & forth to Washington DC from Fort Lauderdale.
Some were more engaging than others when they passed, and I picked out my ‘sweeties’, the ones who gave me a little spunk, a boyish smile, or a squeeze of my hand. Being in the aviation industry for close to 20 years now, I can count on maybe two hands the flights that truly stand out, ones that I will never forget. It gives me inspiration to feel that kind of enthusiasm every time I go to work. Most days, I do try to see the light and the kindness in those who I interact with, but like all things, it’s impossible to keep a high at all times. I love my job, it’s a privilege to be a flight attendant. I never thought in a million years that this is what I would be doing, as I was terrified to fly most of my young life. But travel and adventure beat out fear, and now here I am. In what other job would I have been able to spend the day with our nation’s heroes, being a part of one of the best days of their lives? I know each one of their smiles will live on within me, and I hope that mine will live on with them as well: The girl who smiled with them, sat with them and gave them hugs & squeezes, and ate up all of their flirtations and jokes. It brought a human connection to my world, and for those moments, I forgot all of my troubles that had been swarming around my brain. I touched as many hands as I possibly could, their fragile skin so translucent and soft, so gentle to hold. I walked around the plane looking at their treasured envelope contents, with photos from when they were young, in love, and in uniform. I listened to stories of how they escaped death; like Joe, how his fragile stomach got him transferred to a ground unit because he threw up on the plane… and two weeks later that same air squadron was shot down, every one of them killed. How he came home to his sweetheart who’s he’s now been married to for 73 years (who, has the same slim figure as me I was told) and grew old together. He still carries the photo of their wedding day in his pocket, and I say, “Why, she sure is a stunning woman, Joe! What a lucky gal to be married to you for 73 years!” He pulls me in with his velvety hands and whispers in my ear, “I think you could come home with me and be my mistress though!” I gasped in a playful laugh and then I kissed his hand.
As we landed back at home, and my parade of beautiful souls marched softly off my plane, my heart sunk a little, knowing I would not see them again. I touched every one’s hand, shoulder, cheek, back as they filed past me, cherishing the ones who stopped with arms outreached for a hug. With my whole heart I wrapped them with an embrace, my cheeks now hurting from smiling so hard for so long. One of the fireman escorts remarked to me with a smirk as he passed, “I think you have 80 Ninety-year-olds wanting to take you home with them Shelly.” And with that, I knew the feeling was mutual.