Monthly Archives: September 2011
911… 10 years Later….
The impact 9/11. had on my entire life ; As a flight attendant, a native New Yorker, and an American citizen.
This past year i began writing a blog to journal and share my work experiences as a corporate flight attendant. If you have never read my blogs, i write on a variety of topics concerning private aviation and my travels , usually adding humor as I tell my stories. But today, as I write this blog entry, i reflect on the impact 9/11 had on my entire life..starting with my career as a flight attendant.
I began my career in aviation a year and a half prior to 9/11/2001 as a commercial flight attendant. My first year on the job was a huge lifestyle adjustment but also it was also exciting and full of new adventures . My only ” fears” I had on the job were that of long delays, bad weather, and cranky passengers. I never even gave much thought to the idea of a plane crash let alone hijacking! ( Those who know me well , know that iam somewhat of a fearless person in all aspects of my life.)
A typical day At work consisted of on-loading and off-loading passengers, quick meal services, and Flight attendant ” chitchat” on the jumpseat. When we needed a break from service, we would hideout in the cockpit chatting with the pilots. The the cockpit door was never locked and sometimes not even closed. Easy breezy days for the most part.
Then, on September 11th, 2001 .. Just 15 months into my career, EVERYTHING changed. Fear on the job meant different things.. We all had Fear of the middle eastern- looking passengers, fear of flying certain flight routes, and the general fear of that day happening again …
The cockpit doors became locked and enforced with steel, codes and passwords were changed, and our flight attendant trainings now included self defense maneuvers and additional hijack training. There were also government officials staged as passengers aboard every other flight. These measures were suppose to instill the feeling of safety to our passengers and crew members. But I don’t think it ever did..
A few years later I made a small career change and became a corporate flight attendant. Instead of a Boeing 737s with 120 passengers and 3 flight attendants, I now work on luxurious Corporate jets holding the maximum of 16 pax and only “little me” working in the back cabin. I honestly admit that I find my self getting a little nervous when i see names on my passenger manifest that are of certain nationality decent. and I often imagine different hijacking scenarios, and what I would do alone in the back of the cabin…all of these unpleasant thoughts that I would never have had if the tragedy 9/11 had not occurred . And unfortunately, those thoughts may never go away…
The Native New Yorker
New yorkers have always had the stereotype of being harsh, blunt, opinionated, and unfriendly. As well as tough, honest, and success driven … Depending on what part of the country you live in, seems to govern what your opinion is . In Los Angeles, CA, where i now reside, i often find myself defending My native state and its people. Sometimes, 9/11 will come up in conversation and when it does, I will always say…” Well thank God New Yorkers are tough and driven, because that city managed to rise up through the ashes, dust itself off, and move on,( holding on to the memory but not letting it hold them down.). ” What I didn’t say, is that I had my doubts if CA (especially southern) could have rebounded as fast and with as much pride and strength.
Don’t get me wrong, I know the whole country felt the pain of 9/11, but I do believe that New York residents felt it on a whole different level.. It was OUR back yard that was blown up, and OUR neighbors that were killed.. We didnt just read about it in the paper or watch it on the news..some of us saw the towers fall In front of us as our lungs inhaled the smoke from the fires…And 10 years later, the fear and threats of a repeat attack are still present everyday, especially on every anniversary of that day.
The American citizen
Prior to 9/11/2001, the only war I had ever experienced in my life time was the gulf war. And at the age of 14, when it was going on, I really didn’t understand it or pay much attention.. I was too busy being a kid. Playing with my friends and riding my horses.. And while I was aware of the stressed relationships between the USA and some other countries, I was still in a delusional fantasy land ( as my father called it), of thinking there was world peace. It really took 9/11 to change that for me. For the first time, my eyes were opened to the hatred and evilness in the world. I saw my country under attack and my sense of peace diminished. I began to doubt the future and even decided I didn’t Want to bring children into a world that was so destructive and unstable. Even after the day Osama Bin Laden was captured, I didn’t feel relief and I didn’t feel hopeful for the future of the world.. Because I knew there are more to take HIS place…
But I am sure of one thing.. wars do not create safety and can not undo the past.. They only create more hatred and fear. As an American citizen, I hope and pray now that somehow peace can someday be regained in the hearts of every human ..in every country, state,and city in this world…and MAYBE if I do my part with positive energy, loving prayers, and sharing the words in my blogs, it will catch on.
Today, On September 11, 2011, just remember the LOVE you felt for the lives lost, and the powerful structures that fell… But let go of the anger towards those who caused it.. Because you cant change the past…you only change the present and the future ..
Maybe we can all do that together….
So your average person who has the average 9 to 5 , Monday thru Friday, holidays off, work schedule… Also probably has “sick days”.. You know, the days you can actually stay home, rest, and recover from what ever ailment or virus has come your way… well, in my industry/ career, these days do not really exist. yes, we get sick Like everyone else, but the majority of us go to work anyway..because chances are, we are not getting paid if we stay home. we try to ” recover” on the road in our hotel room somewhere in the world. We load up on ” emergen-c” packets, zinc, and other various immune friendly supplements. Personally, I do this everyday as a preventative measure along with my gallons of green tea..so, let this be e introduction to the story of my last trip..
since I work contract, I rarely turn down a trip, sick, hurt, etc I go to work. A couple of weeks ago, I found myself laying in bed and praying for two things.. One, that what ever was making me feel like death, would soon pass. And two, I didn’t get a call for a trip until this “sickness” passed…
however, as luck would have it, my phone rang.. As i heard the familiar ringtone I assigned to work calls play on my iPhone. I took a long sigh and answered… Crew scheduler: ” Hello, Kathryn? We have a trip tomorrow for you. It’s a 3 day trip to Dallas, TX with client X. “. Me: ” ok”…that is about all I could say… The words ” no, I don’t feel well”, would never have entered my mind or left my mouth. I hung up the phone and sighed once more.. Than began the mental planning for my trip.
The next day, I was still not feeling well.. it was almost worse. A good pilot friend of mine ( lets call him bill), who luckily I was also assigned to this trip with, calls and offers to pick me up and drive me into work.. I happily accepted The offer.. I was sooo tired, and probably looked as bad as I felt so when he picked me up, he took one look at me and said, ” you sure you can do the trip?”. I replied ” no, but iam”… and he understood…
My saving grace was two things. one, it was a easy going client I have flown many times, and two, it was only a 2.5 hour flight. So, I put on my professional face, gathered all the energy I could, and did my job. Then old saying ” act as if..” definitely applied here.
Once I reached my hotel room that first night, I peeled off my work clothes, downed more vitamins, and jumped in bed. I layed there wondering what the hell was making me feel so horrible, and when the hell was it going away? By the next morning, I could barely get out of bed.. Even to eat- which for me is major.. I called Bill and told him I thought i really needed to go to the hospital. I asked the front desk to help me locate one, and give me directions. Of course being in a city you don’t know, adds challenges. Not knowing your so Surroundings or where you can find medical help, makes things interesting to say the least..
Bill, the great guy and friend he is, offered to take me to the hospital, and wait there with me! when I arrived at the emergency room, I took one look around the crowded waiting room and knew it was going to be a long day. :(. i impatiently dealt with the initial intake by the nurse, and random questions about why I was there, by 4 different people. I was asked the infamous question ” do you think you could be pregnant?” .. And I jokingly responded: ” how could that happen. don’t you have to have sex to get pregnant? Iam not married!” The blank stare by the nurse told me she was not amused. Lol. So, I was then brought into room two, asked more questions, and then on to room three- where I would spend the next 5 hours! while in this room, I was poked and prodded with needles, passed out once from all the blood drawing, and began to get increasingly more impatient with the long lapse of time alone and the lack of food. Bill finally came in to keep me company.. Or fear of me killing someone out of frustration, not sure which..
Finally, after many hours, I became very anxious. Where is the dr? Where are my test results?, when can I leave? When can I eat! I even told a nurse I was going to take out my own IV and just leave..the nurse scurried away, telling everyone in her path that i was carrying on.. Great, now iam sure everyone in hospital thinks iam nuts.. Finally, the Dr. Came in to give me my diagnosis.
“your Tyroid hormone levels are low..and we are prescribing you a synthetic hormone medication. Follow up with your Dr. At home”. These where his words..and my reaction: What the hell? Don’t old women get that ?!…great….well that explains my symptoms.. And is proof iam getting old. well, Now I can leave this prison emergency room and process this info over a large amount of food…
The following day, still not feeling well, and nervous about taking my new thyroid medication, I worked my trip home…
And so begins a new chapter of my life.. Now a flight attendant dealing with hypothyroidism..