Waking up to catch that 2 o’clock flight to Heathrow. Bags are packed and the room reeks of hairspray, coffee and tax free perfumes. Amidst this organized mess, she heard the ringtone, one she has been hearing for the past 2 years of being in the job. “Dear Ms. Amanda, your driver is on his way.” she read off her phone screen. No panic, she has been ready for the past hour, as per usual. Just another day in the office, she thought. She took a final look at her mirror, straightened her name tag, ensuring that even the lanyard is equally long on both sides, made last adjustments to her hair which already took long enough to set and of course, one last dose of that Tom Ford she got off her paycheck. Every box in her mental checklist has been ticked. OH! One more thing, one she always delays in doing because it just gets too heavy at times. Amanda walked back to her room and with half a smile, bid farewell to her husband and 2 year old kid who was fast asleep. “Fly safe, sayang.” said her husband. That was all she needed to get her through her night stop. 3 words of acknowledgment that means the world to her.

“KLIA?” asked the driver. She agreed cheerfully as always but deep inside she has always had this fear of leaving her family behind before stepping into the unknown. This is one of the more common stigmas society has against Amanda’s line of work, the assumption that she is a care-free party animal who has no other commitments other than “serving” and having a great time away from life’s responsibilities. Although that might be the case for some people but ultimately it doesn’t justify pinning that stereotype with this particular job. This thought was playing in Amanda’s racing mind. She snapped out of it when she caught the cab driver staring at her through the rearview mirror, while driving at a considerably concerning speed. “There goes your tip.” she thought to herself.

After what felt like an eternity of constant attempts to woo her, she stepped out of the cab and never turned back. She already has a lot on her mind, there was no room for trivial matters including a horny cab driver. She went on through the path that she has been taking for the past couple of years, eyes scanning every person she crosses eyes with. The looks she got gave out different vibes. Different meanings that were carried by these gazes that she was soo used to. The look of judgment for the sake of judging. The look of awe as she strolls past her passengers-to-be in the iconic uniform displaying vines intertwined with frangipanis, jasmines and hibiscus leaves. A walking representative of one of the most sought after airlines on the face of the earth. A representative of her country. This thought has always helped her through the difficult times she has faced as a crew member. And believe me when I say, she has been through some shit.

On today’s episode of “What the hell is going to disrupt my workflow”, a well known individual who must not be named will be leading her crew. Well known for all the wrong reasons of course. You see the thing about being a stewardess of a prominent airline is that it comes with certain expectations in quality control. From something that was once a mundane aspect to even think about, physical appearance, to some things that are more intellectual that are never revealed to the average joe. People often think that this line of work is “easy”. Just flying bimbos gaining benefits with no apparent reason at all. Give a man a job that he doesn’t understand and all sorts of assumptions come flying out of his mouth, as he downs another Jager in an attempt to impress the lady on the next table while his wife runs the family at home. Ironic.

As expected the leading member of her crew began bombarding safety questions and ensuring that those who fail to answer would regret his/her lack of knowledge for a good amount of time. Although being soft spoken and sociable is a culture that the crew share, there is a more serious matter that surpasses it, which is caring for the comfort and lives of the passengers. Ensuring that every single possibility of a disaster is contained and that if something DOES happen, it will be well controlled. Putting the souls of complete strangers before their own. It is an unsung nobility. The quiet moments are when an uproar of thoughts flood the minds of the crew. The fear of losing your family. The fear of getting retrenched. The frustration of judgements and being misunderstood and not taken seriously. What might happen to me today? What is my family doing? Will I live through the day? Will I return home in one piece?…..

She found herself standing at the entrance of the plane facing a passenger that looked confused as she zoned out a moment before. She put on a smile. Stood straight and uttered the words.

“Welcome onboard Malaysia Airlines.”

Iris Malaya

Published by Iris Malaya

I'm a full time medical student. Photographer by passion.

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