All things considered, 2020 was not the worst year for me. Early in the year, I got to travel a bit. I visited my friend in Brazil, hugged a llama after hiking up a mountain in Peru, and cave crawled in Budapest (I am still amazed I did that! Post about that coming soon). I kept in touch with my old friends and even made some new friends.
The Covid-19 pandemic shutting nearly everything down is the worst part of 2020. But it is now 2021 and not much has reopened. It likely won’t for a while. Wearing a face mask every day is more of an annoyance than anything.
Especially with my face shape, I have not found a mask that fits. I do not particularly enjoy taping up a new surgical mask to fit me everyday. But it protects my health and others around me more than if I did not wear one. I do not understand those who find it okay to increase the risk of covid by not wearing a mask… or by wearing it below their nose. Like anything, it is not a perfect preventative measure. But it decreases our chances of catching and spreading covid (and other germs). So it is better to deal with the inconvenience than keep spreading the virus… I am sure I’m not the only one who wants this pandemic to end.
Broadway being closed until at least summertime is what hurts the most. But terminal 4 at JFK has a giant Tony award on display! I also can’t attend a dance class at a studio. My apartment is not the best size to practice all the moves that I would like, but I at least have enough space to stretch and dance around a bit.
As a regional flight attendant, I have been working throughout the pandemic. I took a three month voluntary leave of absence from May to July. I baked and cooked more, even trying some recipes I had been too busy for before. I moved to a new apartment in Queens. And then to another shortly after because of a bad roommate situation. So now I live on the border of Brooklyn, but am still technically in Queens (cheers for Spiderman’s hometown!). I have a longer commute to work, but it’s a nice home and in a convenient location for everything else.
My airline has nearly the same amount of flights as before the pandemic. But the flying has shifted away from NYC since March, when the city became an epicenter of the coronavirus. Some more junior flight attendants were displaced to other, busier bases (mainly Atlanta and Detroit). This lowered my seniority in New York, so I have been back on reserve (aka “on call”) since I returned to work in August.
Despite the decrease in flights and passengers, my work schedule has been as full as pre-covid. For various reasons not directly related to covid, our flight attendant group has shrunk. Us reserves feel the brunt of it with constant last-minute schedule changes that can easily tire anyone out. My airline is actually hiring again to make up for being understaffed, and to prepare for an expected increase of travel after the vaccine rolls out.
I love flying, so it hurts when I see so many nearly empty planes and airports. On the other hand, I know that now is not a good time for people to travel. So when we do have nearly full flights (my airline has a maximum covid capacity, so not every seat can be filled) it hurts when I see so many people traveling simply to travel. We get a lot of essential travelers onboard, but we also get a lot of vacationers. Around the holidays, we saw an increase in full families flying to visit their relatives.
The past few months, I have also met many first time flyers. These are often older people who have not seen their families in many months and fear they might not have a chance again. Whether they worry about dying of old age themselves, or of someone they love catching covid. I have also met some people flying to or from a funeral. These customers are often recognizable by the single flowers they carry onboard, which they often place on the seat next to them or on their tray table inflight.
Outside of work, I keep busy. I have been catching up with doctor appointments, reading more books, baking pão de queijo (I get better each time!), rediscovering the beauty and comedic genius of the Twilight Saga films, etc. I also started volunteering as a staff writer for Random Acts!
I love volunteering for Random Acts because it allows me to use my skills to share stories of kindness and inspire kindness. And it allows me to help others even more than I can on my own by providing funding through the staff acts program. I took part in two staff “kindness acts” funded by the non-profit: donating a popcorn machine to a veterans shelter owned by a fellow flight attendant, and donating holiday gifts and blankets to a homeless shelter in Brooklyn.
If you have an idea for an act of kindness but you need funding, you can also apply for funding as a supporter!
Up next: throwing it back with more stories from Peru last year.