From Sky Queen to ER Angel
This essay, written by Lorena Birt, is bittersweet and so beautiful. Lorena was my roommate at Continental training and she is one of the best FAs I know. Before Continental, she had a long career as an international FA with Northwest. She hung up her wings to become a nurse a few years ago. So many aspiring flight attendants are chasing a dream as a second career. Lorena did it the other way. She left the sky to pursue a second dream career as an ER nurse. Our lives are made up of so many chapters and each one is valuable. No matter what chapter you are in, don’t stop dreaming and don’t forget to live in the moment. But remember, it is NEVER too late to start and it is NEVER too late to go back.
Keep looking skyward,
From the Sky to ER
By Lorena Birt
As a registered nurse I consider my profession to be one of pride, respect and selfless dedication to the sick and needy, but that is not the reaction I get from my patients when they asked me if I have always been a nurse. Every time I get asked the same question, I respond “No, in my previous life I was a flight attendant.” Without missing a beat, time and time again, I get the same response, “You left being a flight attendant to be a nurse?” Now, wait a minute! Nurses are supposed to be the “angels of mercy”, the advocates of the sick. Why do I get such a negative response?
The truth is that I never realized to what extent the public held the profession of being a flight attendant. A career as a flight attendant still held as a glamorous career. I recently read in an article that being a flight attendant is considered the sexiest job in the world. The idea of flying all over the world wearing polyester and uncomfortable high heels is sexy to everyone else, ladies and gentleman.
It has been eight years since I hung up my wings and I decided to venture into the “normal” world. I have attained a college degree and I am currently a trauma nurse at a level one trauma center. The past eight years have been challenging, full of study groups, books, late nights and tears. The truth is that I will trade it all away for just one more trip as a flight attendant. One more day with an uncompliant passenger who refuses to turn off his phone, one more day where I missed my commuting flight home, one more day of delay after delay and a minimum crew rest. I never knew how much I would missed flying until the day I saw my crew bag collecting dust in an empty attic, or seeing a plane fly by as I am ready to start a twelve hour shift at the hospital.
I have a recurrent dream over and over, where I showed up dressed as a flight attendant but no one can find my name on the manifest and I end up returning home heartbroken with tears in my eyes. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss being a flight attendant. Not a day goes by where I think, “I should have stayed.”
Day in and day out, I think of how lucky I was to have experienced such a wonderful career for so long. Looking back I see that I attained something many dreamed of and I have surrendered that opportunity to chase a dream that was already there. I now realized that I never wanted to do anything else but to fly freely above the clouds, but I have no regrets, at least I can say “I once belong to an elite group of professionals whose dreams are at thirty thousand feet.”
Next time you get annoyed because I passenger keeps asking about his connection or a passenger keeps ringing his call light, ask yourself “What if I wake up tomorrow and I no longer have the opportunity to do what I love?” Keep that smile on your face, count your blessings and always fly safe!
~If you would like to guest post and share your story of flying or dreaming, email Abbie at firstname.lastname@example.org~