The Flight Attendants Story

Author Nuralia Mazlan

While having our food after meal service, he started asking me about my life; something FAs do on regular basis. It’s called Jumpseat Therapy, where you spew out very personal details of your life because chances are you’re not going to be flying with the same person for the next few months. It’s easy to get carried away with this when chances are your stories will be forgotten after the flight ended.

I opened up about my struggle with depression and the many relapses I have had: being taken off flying roster, struggling to get help, the medications I was on that forbid me from flying because I was not deemed “sane state of mind”, the lack of money from not being able to work and how it’s still taboo in our society to discuss of this.

He said: How the hell you are still smiling while telling me this?

Every single things has a silver lining to it, I quipped. The conversation took a turn when he starts telling me how he tried multiple times before the company hired him. It was a struggle with his family financial state; he is the only breadwinner in his family.

He continued on telling me of his mom, terminating his diploma study because he couldn’t fork out enough money for the next semester, his mom being unwell recently to his younger brother wish to enrol in tertiary level education.

“and your dad?”

He looked at me, then looked away forlornly. “I don’t think I wanna talk about him.”

I nodded my head. Getting the vibes that it’s not something he wants to discuss further. We ate our meal in silence for the next 5 minutes.

“But I want to tell someone about him,” both hands cover his face as if he’s ashamed that he needs to tell someone about him.

“Go on,” I said softly. I did not nudge further when he was quiet for a minute or so.

My dad is an alcoholic. He abuses my mom. He abused me when I was younger. I grew up having to defend my mom and brother from his assaults. He swallowed a big gulp of uneasy-ness. A couple of blinks to disguise the tears forming slowly behind his eyes.

I stood there in the galley letting him pour his heart out. I have listened to this before; a various version of someone else’s pain. I have been him before, hoping someone would listen to me.

Then he told me how he walked almost 3km with the company issued luggage that morning before our reporting time because of a flat tyre. I asked, why didn’t he call operation’s centre so he can deal with it and be taken off the flight?

“If I did that, they might issue me a warning for emergency less than 4 hours. I need this job.”

“I’ll send you to your car after this,” I said, as I change my cabin shoes into court shoes before we disembark from the aircraft. Immediately guilt show up on his face while he tried to convince me that it’s none of my worries.

I adamantly stated that it’s none of my worries but I wouldn’t let him walked all the way to his car from the airport dragging all his luggages behind him. Plus, the airport is located next to a highway. He would have to walk with lorries zooming pass at neck breaking speed.

We had his tyre fixed in less than 30 minutes. Before I drove away, he asked me to set a date so he can pay it back by taking me out to dinner. I told him flat out, NO.

“Remember when you felt that shame having to confess to me of your struggle? I was you before, wanting someone to hear me. I hear you. Just remember to return it back to someone who needs it.”

Every time he sees me around at our reporting centre, he never failed to ask me of my day.

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