Learn to Fly

I’m lookin’ to the sky to save me
Lookin’ for a sign of life

– Foo Fighters

I love my job. Let me repeat – I LOVE my job! Growing up I had no real idea of what I wanted to do with my life but I had images in my head – I wanted to write and I wanted to travel. Both are the true loves of my life! If I could do both then excellent! I grew up in a rinky dink town in North Carolina & didn’t have much so I vowed to myself that one day when I’m able – I WILL travel this beautiful world! I always thought I’d go to college because I truly value education and think everyone should have some kind of additional education under their belt, however, it never happened for me. In turn, I always had mediocre jobs that required little to no skill set and rewarded little pay. I worked at a shoe store for 3 years as the third key manager and tapped out at $7.25 in pay. I understand that was years ago and it was also in Kentucky where living is far cheaper but wow, seeing that number is shocking to me! When I got married, my ex-husband’s job was the main focus of our lives so I kept little part time jobs to make myself feel like I was doing something with my time and my life while also being able to run our home but in reality I was mortified when we’d meet new people and they’d ask what I do for a living and I’d have to admit I was a cashier at Dick’s Sporting Goods. No shade to my retail hustlers out there but I just wanted to be doing something bigger! Or at least cooler sounding!

When I moved to Florida, the Kohls I worked at in Alabama set up a transfer for me to one in Port Orange. I worked there for about a month – doing whatever shift they could give me because I was spoiled in Birmingham & worked very select hours weekly. That month I probably worked a total of 8 times. Usually night shifts where I’d be getting home around midnight. During that time I interviewed everywhere I could & hoped for better things. I had my eye set on a job at a bank out by Daytona International Speedway but sadly (at the time), did not get it. I can’t even picture myself working at a bank because my God, how DULL. Instead I went to Bealls. Yet another department store. I took a Monday-Friday position with ,like, 7 AM -3 PM hours helping do their visuals and sale sets and stuff like that. I no longer had to sell so I thought “okay fine, I can do this. This’ll be fun…creative even!”. I worked exclusively with one other woman. She had a reputation for not being a pleasant person (nor does she have to be, her prerogative) but we got along beautifully…at first. It took 2 weeks before she yelled at me for the first time & my whole idea of that job instantly went south. The absolute disrespect of it being allowed for your co-worker to berate you in public in front of others was too much for me! I quickly disliked being there.

It’s odd because while I was so happy being in Florida, I also had a lot of depression during that time. You definitely couldn’t tell because I was having so much fun publicly! But newly divorced & hurting but still hearing from my ex husband about every 2 weeks, a job that I hated waking up to go to, coming home to daily complaints that my dog won’t stop barking, having to punish my sweet girl with the shock collar (see this post) for something I wasn’t totally sold on even being her, and just figuring out a new life really, REALLY weighed on me. It really was “the best of times, the worst of times”. I cried a lot back then & I knew something had to change when I started crying in the mornings. I hated waking up. Not in a way that should have concerned anyone, but yeah. It sucked.

After a couple of months at Bealls I went on a cruise with my former best friend (FBF). She had won this cruise months prior from her job & was allowed a guest to come with and she chose me. I had let all potential employers know of the trip up front that I couldn’t cancel & looked forward to it’s approaching date every moment of every day. The cruise left out of San Juan so we went down 4 days early to make a whole big trip out of it & on the flight down, my FBF told me out of the blue “you should be a flight attendant! I know someone who is a flight attendant and she makes bank! You love to travel & flying doesn’t bother you! You’d be perfect for this!” and I’m beside of her like “yeah okay…I have no skill set to work in aviation! Quit drinkin’ babe” – a day or so later, we’re at the pool of the Condado Plaza Hilton & we strike up a conversation with ,you guessed it, a flight attendant. My FBF slaps my arm and says “I’ve been telling her *points to me* that she should become a flight attendant!!” to which I respond “dude you mentioned it once ,like, 2 days ago when you were 2 double Jack & Cokes deep. I didn’t take it seriously!”…..but the seed had been planted. Right here, right now. I believe she actually put this out into the universe for me because I wasn’t there yet.

Fast forward a few weeks and I have had a shit-tastic day at Bealls. My FBF used to call me every single day either at lunch time or immediately after work & she asked me that day during my bitching about my job if I’d given anymore thought to the flight attendant thing…I hadn’t because I still didn’t believe it’d ever be a possibility for me. However, I skipped lunch anyways in favor of sitting outside the plaza on a bench and looked up airlines hiring. Not a lot were & now I understand that most airlines only open their hiring process for a few days then close it quickly due to the influx of applications. I applied to one airline that day. Just one…one I had never flown nor heard of. But that one is all it took.

I was hired a couple months later at their hiring event. I was one of about 60 that got chosen out of about 500+ candidates. The hiring event was an all day process – I got in line at 5 AM and did not leave until 6:30 PM. It was so intimidating to see so many beautiful and *mostly* qualified people…but they chose me. My first interview, first airline, first try. It’s an honor. Do you know how difficult it is to get hired with an airline doing this? Here. I. Am.

I have never loved anything like flying. Even the worst day in the sky could not make me want to do anything else! It can be very hard sometimes (ahem, COVID) but it has made everything so very worth it. Doing this has brought every great thing in my life to me – my friends, the love of my life, my experiences. I can fly anywhere in the world and so can the 3 most important people in my life – my parents & Clinton. I’ve drank beer at Oktoberfest & rode in a gondola in the canals of Venice. I’ve been home for 5 minutes before saying to Clinton “let’s go to Vegas tonight!” and leave for the airport all over again! I have flown to cities on my off days just to eat lunch & fly back because ,oh, I don’t know…”gumbo & beignets from New Orleans sounds so good right now!” – It’s just been a really, really fucking good time. I’m certainly never bored or complacent. Most importantly, I’m doing something absolutely badass that I’m so proud of.

I never wake up crying anymore. Not even on days where I’m flying to Newark or Atlanta!

– Autumn

2 thoughts on “Learn to Fly

  1. Perfect! Feel good writing.
    ‘Every new beginning is some other beginning’s end…..’
    Yours just took a while to happen.
    Made me happy to read (except the part about the mean people and the shock collar). They need some Karma.


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