|Looking back, The Love Boat was where it all began to go terribly wrong.|
In the 4th grade, our teacher told us that Career Day was coming. We were to go home, think about what we wanted to be when we grew up, and plan a costume to wear. I was so excited - beyond excited..I was giddy with excitement. This was going to be my day to shine - I didn't even have to put much thought into it. I wanted to be Julie McCoy, Cruise Director of the Love Boat.
You know, back then (in the early 80s), we didn't have the Internet...we didn't have the ability to just type in "cruise director costume" and boom - three days later, even sooner if you pay for overnight shipping, a costume good enough for a party is waiting at your door. No, we were left to creativity and originality, and hopefully, a parent who could sew. I looked in my closet at my church clothes and found a plaid skirt and a white blouse topped with a navy sweater that was monogrammed. Boom! There it was. I was going to be the most perfect little Cruise Director ever. I was so happy.
|How sad. I really thought I looked like Julie McCoy...don't you? Sigh.|
I ended up being the laughing stock of the class. Not sure if my moustache and olive complexion indicated I would've been a better "Isaac the Bartender" or perhaps my unwaxed eyebrows would've made for a better "Gopher the Purser" but no one knew who I was trying to be. Damn you Julie McCoy, another blow to my happy childhood.
|I think it is therapeutic for me to admit that I had a love/hate relationship with Vicki. She was the luckiest girl in the world because she got to LIVE on the Love Boat.|
My Senior year of high school I was ready to apply to travel school. My mom delivered the blow that was felt around my world. "You are the first girl in this family to get to go to college, when you finish that, if you still want to go to Travel School, then you can go." That was almost as big of a blow as having Judy McCoy, Julie's cousin take over for her as Cruise Director (due to Lauren Tewes' coke habit). What did I know about the value of a college education? I was Greek. All I knew was how to cook and clean and wait on my brother and father so they never had to lift a finger in their lifetime. I did, however, understand, that my mom wanted a better life for me and education was the gift of a golden ticket to wherever I wanted to go. How could I argue? My dreams of some day docking for an excursion to Puerto Vallarta were sailing away...temporarily anyways.
I went to college. I studied Social Work ( it was a no-brainer since I loved helping people, not to mention it was the only major I could choose where I didn't have to take any math classes). My Junior year I was stricken with a severe illness called PTC (Pseudotumor cerebri (SOO-doh-too-mur SER-uh-bry) occurs when the pressure inside your skull (intracranial pressure) increases for no obvious reason. Symptoms mimic those of a brain tumor, but no tumor is present. Pseudotumor cerebri is most common in obese women of childbearing age). I ended up in the hospital for about a week, and then I had to leave school to undergo the treatment needed to get better. While in the hospital, I saw a window of opportunity through the fear in my parents' eyes.
|Hospital bed-side requests. The loop hole I was waiting for. That flukey illness changed the course of my life.|
"When I get better, can I go to travel school?" I asked.
"When you get better, you can do anything you want to do, " my mom said with a quiet hope.
I smiled and thought, I am finally going to be a cruise director.
I went on to Travel School in Pittsburgh. I loved every stinkin' minute of it. I loved the classes, what I was learning - the whole travel industry itself. I had finally found my passion. I changed courses a little and decided being a flight attendant was more my calling.
|Wings and a Bottle of Champagne. The beginning of my demise. Boohooohhaahahaha!|
I was recruited by an airline in the Northeast as soon as I graduated, and moved away to begin a life of glamour in the air. The Pre-9/11 days of flying were different. Everyone was in a good mood, most of the time. Passengers still had rights, no one was on edge - it was footloose and fancy free flying. Until I ended up with a Captain who was (later) diagnosed with Sleep Apnea. He kept falling asleep in flight and we'd experience these quick drops of altitude - leaving me either hitting my head on the overhead compartments or throwing a glass of wine on someone's lap. I was constantly dealing with things like that and my sense of humor served me well in those days.
Once, upon returning from a four day trip, I returned to my apartment to find the door wide open, all of my shit was gone. I ran to the phone to call 911 but they stole that too. My underwear was thrown all over the floor, my bed was slept in, my mantle cleared off of any odds and ends, and cigarette butts ground in my carpet. When the police arrived, they asked me if I had rental insurance (which I didn't) and told me that's too bad. I tried to stop them before they left, and asked them if they were going to take fingerprints and they answered, "Lady, you watch too much CSI."
Damn you Julie McCoy.
Here's a funny factoid. Remember Steven Slater - the infamous Flight Attendant on Jet Blue who went out the way we've all fantasized quitting a job - by telling the passengers to go eff themselves, grab 2 beers and popping the emergency slide to freedom?
|Here's a pic from Steven in our Flight Training Class. He is the perfect example of the dangers of internalizing your stress from being a flight attendant. Good kid...bad stress management skills.|
|Cheers to you!|