By Judy Young
I am a flight attendant with a major airline. I have been there for 21+ years. I started in May of 1999 as a customer service representative in Chicago. In January of 2001 I transferred to become a flight attendant, and was based out of Washington, D.C.
Even though I had already been with the company going on two years, I was still required to go through the probation process as a flight attendant. My first day OFF probation, as a flight attendant, was September 11, 2001. In my mind, this was going to be a day to celebrate! Flight Attendant training was intense. If I failed either during training, or during probation, I would have been promptly returned, with a bow on my head, to the Customer Service Department. I did NOT want to make this walk of shame! I dotted my I’s, crossed my T’s, and took care to follow every rule, to the letter! Yes, I fully planned on doing a big goofy HAPPY DANCE on September 11, 2001.
As everyone over the age of 22, more or less, knows, first-hand, September 11, 2001 required almost anything BUT a Happy Dance!
Suffice it to say, I was laid off as of October 1, 2001. If I had still been on probation on October 1, 2001, I would have actually been FIRED, even though I had a “perfect” record – never late, never even called in sick!
To say I was devastated would be an understatement, to the Nth degree! I was stunned, shocked, depressed, mad – just about every negative emotion I could conjure up! Most of all, I was confused. I had no idea what my future would hold. I had no idea what I would do for a living. I was numb.
Fast forward six months later, and I was recalled to work. I had never been part of a union job before. I had no idea how it all worked – the layoff, the recall – it was all new to me. BUT, I was a happy girl! I had made the best of my time off. I spent ALL of the time with my Dad. My Mom had passed away in December of 2000, so this time spent with my Dad turned out to be a huge blessing.
Five more months, and the Iraq war started. Still being one of the most junior flight attendants, I was laid off again! Though I was not doing a Happy Dance about being laid off, I did think, ah, another vacation! This time I was NOT depressed, though I was not happy, I definitely was not angry. I now had a little more knowledge about how union jobs worked, about how recalls work, etc. I looked forward to more time with my Dad.
Six months later, I was recalled once more!
Fast forward, again. This time, 17 years. Fully believing, I’m in the clear. I am NOT senior, by any stretch (people my age had decades on me. They started at 18 years old, and will fly until they’re 80 years old!) But, I am no longer the bottom of the pile. I actually had people junior to me.
I fooled myself!
Covid-19. Even though I now had 21+ years with the company, another layoff takes place, and I am included once more! Though I AM definitely surprised, and honestly disappointed. I am not sad. THIS time, I just think, what’s next? How can I use this time to reinvent myself? How can I use this time to take advantage of new opportunities, and find additional sources of income?
The SAME event, three different times, but my view of it, each and every time, has been drastically different!
First time: Absolute devastation, uncertainty, sadness, anger, fear, worry!
Second time: Vacation!
Third time: Opportunity! What’s next? What else is possible!
THIS is the Law of Relativity come to life! NOTHING is either bad or good. It just is. It’s only what YOU (me) decide to make it, relative to everything else! The first round, my job was EVERYTHING to me, so losing it meant (in my mind) I lost everything! The second time, I had now experienced a lay off, so I knew it wasn’t permanent, therefore, I could just relax and enjoy the time off! The third time, in my mind, it became an opportunity – to slow down, to learn more, to re-direct! The ONLY thing that changed was my mindset!
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