Monthly Archives: February 2018

The In-between (of two trips, not the creepy one…)

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A few days back I had a sudden itch to write…and nowhere to write seeing as it was one of the few times I did not have pen and paper with me. And before anyone asks, no. I couldn’t write on my phone. That’s just an exercise in frustration. So here I am now, still tired and mildly sick (f*** off cold, I’m not calling in sick for you!) and trying to kill some time before I gotta leave for the cinema. More on that later. What caused this sudden spur of inspiration (and most likely the bloody cold)? My most recent and first trip to Bangkok.

I didn’t know what to expect to be honest. The pictures online looked pretty but the stories I heard from fellow cabin crew ranged from hilarious to downright terrifying. I had people try to talk me out of the flight on account of how difficult it can get. Not in terms of weather. (Though we did have to secure the cabin a couple of times on account of anything not bolted doing a vague impression of a trampoline artist.) No…. It’s the worrying amounts of alcohol passengers consume. I kid you not people, we were out of wine by the end of our flight back. That is a feat in and of itself. And not one to be proud of. I get it. It’s over eleven hours stuck in a flying sardine can, it can get boring. But seriously? That’s the solution? Here’s a radical alternative people: READ A BOOK!

But I digress. What I meant to talk about was not my frustration with the amounts of alcohol I had to serve, but rather my first impressions with this new place I visited. And shall be visiting again soon (bless you Scheduling….) I….liked it. I mean this was my first time anywhere in southeast Asia so the novelty factor was strong but still. Despite the incomprehensible (to me) language and writing in the signposting, despite the bone-deep tiredness (and suspiciously little jet-lag), there was just something about the place that made me feel comfortable. Wish I could say what it was though.

Not just the friendliness of the people and the warmth of the weather. Or even the familiarity of a fleet market. (Those of you who have been in Athens, think Monastiraki but bigger.) Whatever it was, it was nice being in a place where I didn’t feel like I need to keep checking over my shoulder every few minutes. And now that I have a first idea of the place I can see about joining a tour or something. Call me a tourist, but dang it I wanna see those floating markets! I’d have done it on my previous trip but let’s just say the pick-up for the tour is at ungodly o’clock and leave it at that…

Anyway I’ll write more about this after I’m back again. Maybe by then I’ll have figured out exactly what about this place makes me so… I don’t know. Comfortable seems to be the best word for it. And between then and now there’s also probably gonna be something about Black Panther. I’m watching it later today! Hurray!

This is a catharsis post. Rants ahoy

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Let me preface this by saying that I genuinely love my job. I love the travelling, the fast pace, the strange customers, even the weird cravings you get around hour nine of the flight. That being said, there certain parts of it that my anxiety-ridden self loathes like the Grinch loathes Christmas….
Specifically the increased automation of certain parts of the operation. Call me an old-soul but there are many times when the phrase “just press the button and let the machine do it” is not as reassuring as some people might think. I’m the kind of person who (had I be born a couple of decades earlier) would be fixing the TV with a mallet. Bottom line, I don’t trust machines. And machines don’t like me either. Files mysteriously disappearing and reappearing in random folders, gadgets sorting out because I looked them wrong, if it’s any type of computer it comes to my hands for the sole purpose of dying.  I’m not going to discuss here what electronic device is currently antagonising me but suffice to say I’m not at fault and this whole problem wouldn’t exist if I had interacted with a being made out of organic carbon instead of plastic and microchips.

But here’s the thing. I’m paranoid. I have backup plans for my backup plans because I know I get anxious when things spiral out of my control. But for all I wish I either had all the responsibility or none at all, I have to acknowledge (to others if not myself) that when I am running on two hours of sleep, caffeine fumes and the hope of a bed I cannot be expected to perform my best. It’s the reality of the job and I say that as someone who permanently ruined her sleep schedule when she was sixteen.

I suppose the first sacrificial victim of having a large company is personal contact. And by personal contact I don’t mean feedback forms (the subject of another rant eventually, but not now. One cause of sleeplessness at a time). Automation is all well and good but does not account for the human factor. And dear gods, this would be so much easier to rant about if I didn’t feel the need to keep it as vague as possible. I swear, the next job I happen upon (once the paperwork chasing that is disturbingly inherent in being cabin crew becomes to much for me) will have a lot less forms. Screw salary raises and benefits, I’m hardly likely to settle down anyway (that is not a dare PTB, I do want a family in the somewhat near future). I just want a job that pays my bills and doesn’t drive me to insomnia, drink and/or anxiety attacks. But I suppose that is too much to ask for all things considered.

Sometimes I wonder if my life would be easier if I could actually talk about my problems. For someone whose main strength during academia was writing, it can be remarkably hard at times to find the correct words. There are concepts I only know in one language (which might not be the language I’m using in the discourse I’m having). There are concepts I perceive in the relative safety of my mind as feelings and colours and shapes, with not corresponding words that I can find, especially in such a difficult conversation. And it is difficult. I’m aware enough of my self and my mental state to know that poking that particular hornets’ nest, while therapeutic and something I should probably do at some point, would not be pleasant for anyone involved. Too much compartmentalising and shoving things in the Narnia-sized broom closet that is my subconscious. And even as a child I preferred listening because a. human interactions are stressful and confusing, b. 95% of the people I meet/spend time with I would not care whether I saw again or not so why bother, c. my temper is too violent to risk igniting since hitting someone over the head with my leatherback Divina Comedia is sadly not socially acceptable. What this all boils down to is an underlying sentiment of “I’ve observed that references to this subject are met with frustration and/or indifference so trying to communication my perception of it, based on personal experience or not, will be likely not met favourably”. Or, more laconically, “you guys ain’t listening so why bother”? And yes, that includes trying to talk it through with someone and then them dismissing your perception/opinion/stance are non-valid because it doesn’t fitting with perception of the subject. Oh yeah. That happened. Repeatedly. From people I didn’t expect it from. Fun times. Not.

On a slight tangent, I was having a discussion earlier about diversity and PC culture and whether or not it is meaningful or limiting at this point. I hardly belong to a marginalised group so I felt it would be hypocritical to preach from a proverbial soapbox on the subject. But personally, I feel it’s about removing stigma and misconception. It’s just both can be so deeply embedded that that they are considered normal. But here’s the thing. I would very much like to wear shorts or miniskirts when I go out. So why is it that the same people who with one breath encourage me to do so because I’m apparently at the proper age for it, warm me off doing it with the next breath because “it’s not safe” or so that I can avoid catcalls. And for the matter I have nothing against a guy complimenting me on the street (in fact I am very flattered, but for the love of all you hold holy, leave it at that). What I am against is guys honking at me or whistling from the cars or ogling on the street like they got dropped off to the 21st century from the Victorian times by a very inconsiderable time-traveller. It’s not flattering, it’s not sincere and it is certainly doing nothing to cool off the hotter heads of the feminism vs sexism debate (and I include reverse sexism on that too, it’s just I’ve never had a woman make to make some of the comments I’ve heard from men). Or I would like not to have to think and hesitate about going to the doctor to verify something I suspect because having it in my medical history might affect my chances of employment, or because my symptoms are not “loud” enough to be considered legitimate. For the record I would very much like to be able to make a phone call without having to prepare myself for it in advance or have a conversation with a coworker and not obsessively dissect it afterwards for everything I may have done wrong because have I mentioned how hard it is to talk to someone when you suck at reading body language? And no, I very much do not believe in the idea that best intentions are communicated somehow.

I’m gonna cut this off rather abruptly but it’s getting late and I am famished. At least my head feels a little emtier right now so hopefully I’ll be able to sleep properly (and promptly) tonight.