Confessions Of A Singapore Girl (Part One): Why I Broke My Government Bond To Become An SQ Girl
My fascination with planes started since I was young. Growing up, I would often skip remedial classes after school to sneak down to the viewing gallery at Changi Airport to watch the planes take off and land. (very bad role model, I know) I would daydream endlessly about flying off to distant places and getting lost in foreign lands. Maybe I would meet my prince charming in New York City...our eyes would meet across the crowds of Times Square...
This is really what it feels like to be free.
I used to babysit a neighbours' kid who had a gorgeous guardian. She was a leading stewardess with Singapore Airlines. Each time I was at her house, I would watch her float and sashay through the door *like a dream* in her green kebaya. She was the picture of poise and elegance.
I would watch her (with my mouth gaping wide open)carrying her very expensive branded luggage, hair completely on point , looking every bit as glamorous as I imagined a stewardess would be. Like an angel, I thought. I would often secretly watch her with a mixture of envy and admiration.
The kid would feed me with the countless exotic snacks she brought back from all over the world in their bursting fridge. And he used to tell me this: "Hey you could be a cabin crew too. Imagine this, you could eat wonderful snacks all day long and you could sleep all the time." (each time I was at his place, she was either sleeping or she had just touched down from some exotic locale)
And in my mind I thought: OMG! I WANT THIS JOB NOW! Eating snacks and sleeping all day? Bring it on baby!
He gave me a newspaper cutting and told me about a walk in interview. "I think you can make it."
How sweet of him to have such confidence in me, when I felt like the odds of passing the notoriously hard SQ interview was as good as zero.
So standing there at the queue outside Sheraton Hotel, there I was wondering what on earth I was doing. I mean just try, no harm right? Never mind the fact I was in a relatively high paying and secure government job...and I had a bond to serve.
Somehow against, the odds I nailed the job. But I was filled with uncertainty. Should I just break my bond and leave? Would it be the wise thing to leave behind a "secure career" for something unknown?
But life is short and one should live with no regrets. I knew if I gave up the offer now, I would never get the chance again. Age was a factor too, as I was no "sweet, young thing."
It was then I decided to take a huge leap of faith and jump into the unknown. I decided to break my government bond and leave my job, and start from ground zero as a cabin crew, despite many misgivings and discouragement from others. And the rest was history.
Now today, years later, these are things I finally realised and learnt about the truth and what it was like to be a cabin crew, that changed all preconceived notions I might have previously had.
Here's what I realised.
- Cabin Crew need a lot of sleep
I finally realised why I saw her sleeping all day like a vampire queen. Mainly because of the exhaustion. The fatigue. The jet lag. The need to always sleep. I never knew I could sleep for 20 hours straight until now. There were moments I would touch down in the wee hours of the morning and crash into my bed (sometimes, too tired to even wash off the makeup) and the next thing I know, I wake up and it's all dark outside and I feel lost. What time is it??? It's 10pm. Did I just sleep through the entire day???
2. Cabin Crew are very ordinary people, just like anyone on the streets
I saw the other side. How behind the glamorous image, the skin tight kebaya, the aura of mystery and the gossip/controversy that often surround their lives, these were girls, like you and me, with their own lives and stories, just as ordinary and human as anyone of us. We don't just spend our time partying and drinking! Sometimes, the most 'happening' thing we ever do is walk across the street, to go the supermarket to get food, then come straight back to the hotel. And sleep again. Because we are just perpetually exhausted little pigeons.
3. Being a Cabin Crew....can be incredibly lonely. But you learn to be independent.
I remember so acutely the pang of loneliness I felt each time I was alone overseas during festive occasions like Christmas and New Year. The sting of being away from my loved ones. I remember the first New Year's Eve I was alone. Though we were counting together with the rest of the crew, I thought about my friends and family at home; and for the first time I felt the sting of loneliness, so real and palpable that I started to cry in my room. The loneliness slowly becomes habitual. Then you start to become very independent. Even eating alone doesn't bother you anymore.
4. Cabin Crew can be very compassionate people
Through the years of flying, I have met some of the most incredible people ever. People who have #restoredmyfaithinhumanity.
I have often seen small, random acts of kindness that crew have extended to people, whether passengers or fellow colleagues. I have seen very dedicated crew go the extra mile to clean the soiled pants of elderly passengers, take care of sick passengers and the generosity shown to colleagues.
5. This is one helluva addictive lifestyle
This is not just a job. It's a lifestyle. I finally understood what people meant when they said that. You either hate it or love it. But honestly, it is an addictive lifestyle. Once you get accustomed to it, it becomes an addiction. Like a drug. It is so difficult to go back to being "normal". You might crave normalcy but yet you suddenly fear it because it is now foreign to you. Especially when you are used to having a schedule that's different from everyone else. Then somehow normal becomes...boring. When jet lag and exhaustion become so deeply entrenched in your life, it's hard to recall what life was like before flying. So many people find it hard to hang up the uniform and clip their wings.
6. Cabin Crew are not "loose" Or "slutty" people ok?
The worse comment I ever heard in my life from a guy had to be this.
"I heard all you cabin crew love to sleep around."
Yeah. We love to sleep around in hotel rooms WITH OUR PILLOWS because we are so Godamn tired ok?
7. Aircraft food is actually pretty tasty
With all that salt and oil, you can't quite go wrong.
After all these years, the question I ask myself now is, was it all worth it? To pay such a huge price, to break my government bond, to leave my previous job so abruptly just to become a stewardess?
And my answer would still be a resounding yes.
I learnt so many things from being a crew, more then I could have ever learnt in my life if I had chosen otherwise, and if I could go back in time and decide again, I would have still made the same choice.