The People You Never Knew You Needed to Meet
I know that I'm beating a dead horse when I say that I really enjoy my career as a Flight Attendant. You've heard it all before, yada yada yada, but I'll say it again- I am grateful for this job. There are an abundance of reasons why I am thankful for this career, but reason No.1,746 is this- my co-workers. If there is something you need to know, be it a product review, how to invest for retirement, the right shampoo to use- you name it, there is a Flight Attendant who knows the answer. We are an extremely diverse group of men and women- all ages, ethnicities, educational backgrounds and work history. Include the fact that Delta employs over 20,000 of us and it's unnecessary for me to say that we are, collectively, the most educated, well-rounded, diversified group of employees around. So when I don't know something, need a resource for something or just good advice- I ask a Flight Attendant.
Monday night I went to work with nothing particular on my mind, or anything heavy on my heart. I signed in at 8:13 PM for a one-leg flight up to Chicago Midway. I'd spend 7 hours on the ground and work one leg straight back to Atlanta, easy peasy. We call these trips lean-overs, because a seven hour rest period doesn't exactly constitute a layover- we're leaning! I do lean-overs a lot as they allow me to be at home during the daytime hours, making me more productive. I'm sleep deprived after them, but happy for the opportunity to spend my waking hours at home. Bear in mind, when we sign in for these trips, be them leans or regular trips, the chances are very high that we're meeting our co-workers for the first time- first time! The two women I worked with that night I had never laid eyes on in my life until 8:13 PM Monday night. When you're constantly forced to meet new people and become acquainted with them, you learn how to build friendships quickly. We cut through surface level knowledge of each other faster than average, and get to the nitty gritty at an accelerated pace. By the time we landed back in Atlanta, just over twelve hours after sign-in, I knew more about these two women than I do about many of the people I see on a weekly basis. Strange, right? Strange, but often times so very valuable and insightful- even when you least expect it.
As many of you know, we've been on a slightly tumultuous journey with Gus's learning struggles. At the end of last summer he was diagnosed with ADD and Dyslexia. While knowing this was hard, it was also a big relief to have an answer and know there was specific ways to help him. Being as impatient as I am, the moment I had a diagnosis I was on the phone asking all the questions, getting all the information. I knew that private school was probably his best hope, so I found them ALL. Started with the schools specifically for Dyslexia, but faster than I had begun my search, doors started slamming in my face. Much to my surprise and frustration, merely being labelled Dyslexic does not guarantee you a spot in a school for Dyslexic children- no. I thought finding a school with an opening for him and coming up with ways to pay the excessive tuition would be my only obstacles- no! Not only did I need to do those things, but I also needed to find a school that felt he met their "profile". Gus needed to be the right fit for their school, not the onther way around- huh??? Insert head scratch here. This was news to me, and even worse for me was the fact that Gus wasn't meeting anyone's "profile". Gus was too bad off for them, unfixable- at least that's the way I heard it. It was a punch in the gut to know that no one wanted him, no one was willing to help him. My boy, the light of my life and sweetest kid I know needed help and I couldn't find it for him. My heart was broken.
Fast forward several months, lots of emails, phone calls and school tours, we found a place that would take Gus. We're signed up, we start in the fall and hope that it will be just what my guy needs to fight these learning battles. While I know our struggles are so very minor in comparison to those faced by other families on a daily basis, I still felt the weight of it all. I wasn't feeling it the other night as I signed in for my trip, but the universe must have felt otherwise, because on this particular lean-over I flew with two women who faced their own battles with ADD, dyslexia and processing disorders.
One Flight Attendant had ADD herself and raised a daughter who struggled with it as well. We talked medicine- which types, how much to pay and ways to get it cheaper. Info I was desperately in need of. The other Flight Attendant raised her son as a single mother. He had significant hearing loss, was ADD and struggled to learn like other children. She spoke of her fight to advocate for him both medically and educationally. We discussed signs of ADD, struggles that result from it and ways to cope. More importantly, we talked about where these women's kids are now- not just their struggles as children but how they turned into functional, independent adults. You see, I'm only starting my journey- these women have lived theirs. So often I worry about what the future holds for Gus. If I give him all the tools now will he grow into a normal, self-sufficient adult? I fear that no matter what I do it won't be enough, but these women gave me hope- something I really need more of.
Shortly before landing in Atlanta, the Flight Attendant with the hearing impaired son walked over to me, stood inches from my face as I stood backed up to the cockpit door. In each hand she held onto the two corners of my unbuttoned sweater, looked me in the eyes and told me I am Gus's mom for a reason. God gave me Gus because he knows I am strong enough to fight for him. That if I keep fighting and keep advocating, he will be ok. She told me I was a good mom and doing the right thing, and to just keep doing it. If you know me, you know I'm not terribly emotional, but in this moment she got me. I closed my eyes so the tears wouldn't fall straight down my cheeks, and I thanked her. In this moment, despite not knowing it, I needed to work with these girls. I needed this crew with these life experiences to tell me I was doing the right things and to ensure me everything would be ok. Reason No.1,746 why I fly.
These images were shot on my trip to Joshua Tree, styled and led by the incomparable Mari Trancoso and hosted by my favorite people at Unraveled.
Models: Avery Case and family
Air BNB: Vintage Desert Homes