Job Description.

Year Two. Month Five. #SLC.

The shuttle van pulled up and I got in, my pants pressed carefully and my crisp blouse ready for the day. I checked my reflection and was pleased to see that my matte red lipstick and hair were in place. Heels on, pearls on. Today was going to be a good day.

On the way to work our crew laughed as we came up with all the different ways to describe a flight attendant.

Trolly Dolly. Air Hostess. Sky Waitress. Stew. Cabin Crew. Sky cap. Cabin attendant. The list went on and on.

It was only once I got to the aircraft that my image started to fall apart a bit. Boarding was delayed, and so by the time passengers began wandering down the aisle we felt as though we were herding them into their corral, urging them to "sit down as quickly as possible" so that we could ensure an ontime departure.

Passenger Wrangler. I'll add that to my job description.

The main cabin door closed and boarding completed, we finished up our safety duties, strapped into our jumpseats and took off. I noticed that my pants were a little less unwrinkly and spotted a splash of coffee on my white blouse. Hmm.

We took off from Salt Lake City and headed down south to San Diego. And then Boise. And then Seattle. 

Boarding. Close the door. Safety walk and talk. Please stow your bags. Sit down. Cabin secure. Take-off. Service. Get ready to land. Please stow your bags. Landing. Welcome to announcement. Deplane. Tidy up. Board again. Close the door. Safety walk and talk. Please stow your bags. Sit down. Cabin secure. Take-off.

And over and over and over.

By the time we landed in our third city of the day my lipstick had long since faded. My heels looked scuffed. I wasn't sure what my hair was doing and my pearls were quite askew.

To make matters worse, the ever worsening forest fires in the West had made the air quality terrible. Every time we opened the door the smokey air permeated the cabin, making my voice more and more hoarse. I had all but lost the ability to speak above a whisper by the time we boarded up in Seattle.

Luckily, the other flight attendant handled announcements while I handled speaking in a tiny whisper to passengers: Please stow your bags.

Broken record. Another one for the job description.

One last flight. The last flight of the day, back to Salt Lake City.

We dimmed the lights as soon as we completed our two services. It was late, and passengers immediately fell into a childlike drowsiness. I sipped tea up in the front galley, and glanced out the window.

City lights twinkled dimly through the smoky veil. I wondered about the towns and cities affected by the fires. I wondered about the women and men fighting those fires, working for thirty-two hours straight. When do they get to go home? Do they still have a home?

The West is on fire.

And suddenly my appearance didn't matter anymore. What mattered is that I got these passengers home safely.

And if that means providing CPR, shouting instructions for oxygen masks, evacuating a plane and yes, even fighting fires, I would do it.

Because I am a First Responder.

Here's to all the First Responders out there, performing life-saving acts every day.

Click here to find out how you can help contribute to the fire relief efforts in Washington State.


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