we are celebrating SIA’s 70th anniversary this year! happy birthday, the pride of our little red dot, singapore’s golden bird, the best airline in the world!
this is my sixth year in SIA; it’s the first and only company i’ve joined upon graduation from school. it’s like my first love. and you know what people say about first love; no matter where i may go next time, i know SIA will always have a special place in my heart. ♥
one of the BEST things that i’ve gained from SIA is getting to know the other five cambelles. we saw ourselves as the belles in the department, of which acronym is CAM, thus this group name, hahaha!
and to think that i was trying to distance myself from them initially because i thought i had too busy a social life to care, and that it is uncool to be close friends with my colleagues, pfft i was so silly!
the days we had spent together were some of the most insane in my life. ironically, these crazzayy bitches were the only reason i stayed sane at my job for up to two years, and even enjoyed, the painful office hours for five days a week.
through endless booze, regular extended lunches, late nights out, inside jokes, dirty secrets, taking jabs at one another, laughter, tears, and laughing tears, and erm…of course, serious work collaborations bla bla bla, our friendship grew, and stayed solid till this very day, despite physical distance and the passing of time. in fact, our whatsapp group is still very much alive today (though i don’t usually stay in any whatsapp group for long), and we always make it a point to meet up when any of the girls based overseas come back.
believe it or not, as much as i love my job, it has only just occurred to me that i have been flying for four years. i guess this is what people mean when they say you don’t keep track of time when you enjoy yourself. though the beginning stage might have been tough, mainly due to culture shock and a steep learning curve, my last four years as the singapore girl have been the most amazing.
you know there’s a saying that goes “you should choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”. it’s kinda true, but only kinda, for me at least.
i have to say, flying is not as glamorous as what everyone thinks. i do work, very, very hard, for every single cent that i get paid.
i alternate between losing sleep, or sleeping too much, pretty much all the time. i always get bruises, scars and back aches, not to mention all the chemicals i have to subject my body to, from hair spray to nail polish to body lotion, and also the side effects of flying like accelerated aging, screwed up body clock, broken nails, irregular and unhealthy eating habits etc.
putting up with unreasonable people, and handling difficult situations, weird demands and ceaseless requests is all part of the job, not to mention the endless cycles of absorbing new information, learning new skills, adapting to new environments. walking (up and down the aisle) almost non-stop from beginning to end, on flights that can last up to 14 hours sounds painful, but it’s nothing compared to forgoing important occasions and precious time with loved ones.
now imagine doing all of the above, and much more, with a big smile on my face all the time, you think it’s easy? it’s not, goddammit, but do i love the job? HELL YEAH! every moment of it. that, is what they call passion, kids.
like what i said earlier, to join cabin crew is to embark on a journey of continuous learning. yes, after some time, you do fall into a comfortable routine when it comes to the general work flow, but there are still many things, like significant life lessons, that one can gain from every flight, or passenger, or destination, if one has the right attitude to always absorb, process, reflect and remember.
i’ve done a lot of observations, and self-reflections ever since i started flying. here are three takeaways, among many others, that i have picked up from my time in cabin crew so far, all of which have helped me in my character development, and i believe will bring me far in life.
in cabin crew, we are taught our thank you‘s, please‘s, and sorry‘s, from the very first day we set foot in training school. whether we do it out of sincerity, or fear of authority, it will soon be drilled into us, and as time goes by, become a habit that is extended to our life outside work, which is not too bad a thing, don’t you think?
while i’ve always been a polite person, i admit that i’m now more sincere in delivering my pleasantries (as ironic as that sounds).
i make eye contact whenever i thank a waiter for his service. when a friend helps me in something, i make it a point to tell him how his help has made a difference for me, so he won’t feel patronised (though D says that makes some people feel awkward, hahaha!).
when i’m making a complaint over the phone, i voice my unhappiness and make my demand in a calm, reasonable way, also peppered with thank you‘s, please‘s. whenever i’m out having a meal with my friends, or at a party, i will eagerly help to set the table. they always tease me for that, saying it’s an occupational hazard, but i feel it’s actually just the proactive attitude ingrained in every cabin crew member, you know?
with my heightened sense of situation awareness that comes with my job, i’ve unconsciously become more sensitive to what’s going on around me, including people’s emotions. more importantly, i’ve become more bold and initiative in helping people. whenever i sense that someone is in distress, including strangers on the street who appear to need help, i no longer feel shy to offer my help, but will approach them to see what i can do.
on a similar note, i’ve learned not to judge one by how he treats his equals, but his inferiors, as what j k rowling said in one of the harry potter books. or maybe it’s not “inferiors”, but rather someone who can’t do anything back for him, like a junior who is new at work, or an old uncle having difficulty with pushing his newspaper trolley up a slope, or a friend facing some relationship problems; kindness in such cases, extended with no expectation of any return, is the most sincere.
i’ve also come to understand that kindness should be done out of empathy rather than sympathy. the former is to be kind to someone to make him feel better, while the latter is to make yourself feel better.
a thin line between the two, may not be mutually exclusive, nevertheless still makes a difference. i cannot say that i’m good at differentiating them, and applying them correctly, but i’m working on it.
to have integrity is to do the right thing even when you think nobody is watching. this is an important value that i’ve become more conscious of after joining cabin crew. i admit that i’m someone who craves for affirmation for doing well, be it in school or at work, but now i know that such gratification should not be the reason i work hard and do well.
more often than not, only i know that i don’t take shortcuts, or shortchange my passengers, that i make an effort to memorise rules and guidelines, that i stick to the black-and-white when preparing the aircraft for flight, and am always vigilant when doing security and safety checks.
only i know that i genuinely care for the passenger who is sick, or the mother travelling alone with her baby, or the passenger who hasn’t finished his meal. i may be end up being the only one who thinks it’s a flight well done, but so what? this is what i should do because it’s my job, so it’s only right that i give in my best, and take pride in it.
outside of work, i am also a strict follower of rules and principles, or what people often call kiasi. i don’t cheat in tests or exams, or tell lies to get free stuff, or betray a friend’s secret, or break my promise to someone, and i try not to be late to appointments, not because i’m afraid to be caught or reprimanded, but because it just doesn’t feel right. just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t make it right, right? HAHAHA!
there are two people whom i’m eternally thankful to have met during my career in SIA.
one is lipeng, my ex-boss in my previous department. while she is a quiet, down-to-earth person who doesn’t like to be in the limelight, she is a very experienced and competent superior, and a patient, understanding, and encouraging mentor. more importantly, she was the sole reason i could do an internal transfer to cabin crew, though this was mostly unheard of in the company at that time. in other words, she has helped me fulfill my dream. i think it’s not too much to say that she is one of my biggest 贵人 in life.
strictly speaking, another (group of) people i really want to thank is the cambelles, because they really meant a lot to me during my two-year stint at head office, where life in and out of work was not always easy-going. they made my time there so fun and memorable that my heart still explodes with fondness and happiness whenever i share our crazy stories with D.
but since i already mentioned them above, i shall choose another person to thank, and that is my husband, of course. if it’s hard to be cabin crew, it’s even harder to be the spouse of cabin crew, i tell you. though D and i didn’t meet at work, he has always played key role in my flying career throughout the last few years.
he has always been my emotional support, and a great help in the practical sense too, especially during the training and probation period, where things were the hardest. during training days, he had helped me with my school projects, and gone on numerous boring shopping trips where i had to hunt for the right eye shadow or lipstick or nail colours (ARGH!). ever since i started flying, he has always been my hair stylist, even if it means waking up with me at 3 in the morning to help me blow dry and spray my hair.
he sends me and picks me up for work whenever he can, and always listens to my endless stories (and whining) about my flights. he accommodates to my schedule whenever we plan celebrations or holidays, and tolerates my tantrums and lack of energy from work stress, jet lag and perpetual fatigue. most of all, he embraces the time difference and physical distance whenever we are apart.
even till today, four years after, he continues to shower me with endless love, and unwavering support in all ways possible, making me the luckiest stewardess, and wife, in the world.
finally, the story of one. thank you for having reached thus far in the post. is this the longest entry yet? hahaha…okay here goes, the most important part of this whole long, grandmother story.
ever since i was a little girl, there has only been one dream that i really feel passionate about, and that is to be a singapore girl.
i no longer remember the origin of this aspiration, but for someone with such a short attention span and way too many ideas and interests at all time, to carry this ball of fire in me for one single goal for almost my whole life, is a feat by itself.
i’ve come to realise that i have true passion for flying, and i love SIA, no matter what others may say about it dropping in quality or whatever. to me, it’s still the best employer and airline in the world.
somehow at the back of my mind, i’ve always known that i’m meant to fly, not for just any airline but SIA. have you ever had this kind of feeling, a calling, a strong sense of destiny? hahaha…i know it sounds damn drama, but there is no other way to call it. i knew it was my calling when i found in me this unusually powerful feeling of determination and confidence, despite having been repeatedly hit by obstacles on my way to being accepted by cabin crew; it was that calling which had pulled me through.
even when i took a two-year detour at the head office, and ended up enjoying the ride, i remained focused on my destination, and did everything i could to reach it eventually. later on, even when flying turned out to be more challenging that i expected, i overcame each and every hurdle, and am confident to say now that i’m good at what i do, and i’m happy doing it.
unfortunately, due to many practical reasons, i cannot stay here for long. while i’m already mentally preparing for that end, it’s hard for me to imagine how it will be like after i fold my wings. though there are other ambitions that i want to conquer, and possibilities i want to explore out there, i know nothing will come close to me accomplishing my dream as a singapore girl.
my journey with SIA may not be a long one, but it’s been, and i know it will continue to be, a thrilling one till the very end. joining this big family, and being able to fulfill my dream, enjoying, and excelling in it as much as i expected myself to, is one of the proudest things i’ve done in my life.
so SIA, thank you for the flights. you are, and will always be my favourite way to fly.