Just a little over 2 years and 6 months ago I attended Initial New Hire Training for the airline I currently work for. During the training, a pilot came to speak to us and asked for a commitment from each of us to email him and "Say what you need to say". I rose my hand that day and made that commitment to him....But I never emailed him and this has haunted me these 2 years and 6 months! I am a woman of my word and I have struggled with what to "say", But at last, I have decided on what I want to say. Let me first explain...
Without going into too much detail, I experienced a really painful, unfair and truthfully, horrid situation with someone who I have to deal with for the rest of my life. This person has made it their mission to destroy my life, marriage and anything else that they can when it comes to myself or my husband. In August, I was put through the ringer with this person. I was treated VERY unfairly and very hatefully. After all the years of staying silent and taking their abuse, I went home and I fell apart. I sobbed for 2 days, wanted to crawl into a hole and just fade away. Shortly after this event a dear friend stopped by knowing the history with this person. He sat with my husband and me and listened to my sobbings. I unloaded. Then he made a statement that was simple, pure and PERFECT! He said, "Mary, you need to go out and find someone to serve." My first response was "REALLY?!? how is this even possible? I fly all the time and am never home..."He simply and lovingly replied, "You'll find a way."
I pondered his counsel for the next 2 days (my off days). You see, I live in a small town (Midway,UT) and LOVE to serve having served on many committees including the Midway Boosters, serve as the Secretary of our local caucus, chair for the Swiss Miss Pageant, had various church callings and currently serve as Chair for Advertising/PR for our annual Swiss Days event held each Labor Day weekend (there's my plug!) My heart knew that he was exactly right but my conundrum was how to go about this "service" with my crazy flight attendant schedule? Then I had a crazy thought...I had a 4 day trip coming up (that I wasn't terribly excited about, to be honest) but maybe I could commit to myself that I would "SERVE" every passenger who stepped onboard my flights. And I mean REALLY serve them.
I checked in for my first flight, not feeling so great, but the commitment that I had made to myself resonated in my ears..."Serve them, Mary...just serve them." It started very simply. I looked at the first passenger in the eye, smiled and said "Welcome aboard." Then looked at the next and did essentially the same thing, then the next passenger and the next and on and on...Yes, I looked every passenger in the eye and greeted them with sincerity, a smile and even appropriate compliments. It wasn't long before I began to feel real, sincere concern for them and, dare I say, even a sense of love for them. Since that day, I have changed my entire perspective of my "job"...in fact, it's no longer a job, I view it as a "Calling"! I know that sounds lame, but for me, it works! I look at it as a calling to touch the lives of others for the better...to leave my passengers feeling even a little bit better than when they stepped on the plane. I can offer sincere understanding and genuinely touch the lives of others by simply listening, understanding and caring about the worth of each and every soul that I come in contact with. I try to be aware. As an example, a lady came onboard (a short non-service flight) and it was obvious that she had been crying. As soon as I could get out of my jump seat, I quickly wrote her a note simply saying, "I'm sorry that you're having a hard day. I hope I can make your day a little brighter" and dropped it off with some peanuts, pretzels and a cookie. She came to me later and told me that she had just lost a best friend to cancer, having just left her funeral then proceeded to give me a big hug and thanked me for my concern.
Like me, everyone has been treated unfairly and been betrayed by people in their lives. Like me, not everyone flies for pleasure and like me, everyone hurts.
I can't even begin to tell you how much better my life is both personally and professionally. I feel very liberated! When I fly with a negative or critical flight attendant (or Pilot), that's OK because I just work to serve them, knowing that they are hurting too...
As I attempt to bless the lives of others, my life has been more richly blessed. As a result, my passenger compliments have increased dramatically, both written and verbally (which is just a bonus). Please know that I am not tooting my own horn. I'm not perfect, but I love what I do and I do what I love. I am healing from the injustices that I experienced in August. I have learned to forgive, forgive and then forgive again. And I'm sure this will be a perpetual exercise for me throughout my life. And that's OK. I never would have believed that exhausted, sometimes ornery, cranky, even downright nasty passengers could help to heal me! But they have because I have learned to love them and understand that they hurt too and sometimes just a sincere smile can help lift their load I can even feel compassion (just a teeeeeeny bit) for the person who has hurt me...but it's a step! What a difference a paradigm shift can make!
In closing, let me quote the words of the great Paul McCartney, "...And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make."