Taking a 5 minute break before we board our next flight

I have been back at work for 10 weeks now as an on call flight attendant. There have been good moments and a lot of uncertain moments. The scheduling dilemma that I face on a week to week basis is enough to give someone a heart attack. Not only am I on call (where I have to call back within 15 min of receiving a call) 18 days a month but I drag myself to bikram yoga while I’m on call. I stick my phone under my towel and sneak peaks at it every few minutes to make sure I didn’t miss a call. In my mind, I’m ready to leave class in an instant and rush home to fly away for 4-5 days. Of course, I can’t forget my breast pump back pack because I’m still nursing Kai 4-6 times a day. Forget bringing any food or snacks, I don’t have the room or the stamina to keep anything else cold after caring for my pumped breastmilk for 4 days. And the really exciting part is that my husband works and travels a ton for fun too.

A few years ago you might be on call but not get used which was glorious. You’re still paid for the day but don’t go anywhere. That isn’t the case these days because airlines are running a tight ship with limited employees. Today, if you’re on call, you’ll be called for a trip. And you used to be able to pay people up to $100 per day for an extra day off. These days most people are either working already or so exhausted from working so much that a $100 tip isn’t feasible. So it takes the “flexibility” right out of the equation.

Add a sick baby or heaven for bid I get sick, which happened to me this month. That’s a whole different animal.

Mostly the unknown factor of being on call is the worst part for me. Not knowing where or when you’ll be going makes it hard to sleep at night and breathe during the day. I’m constantly constructing back up plans every week. Which gets complicated when our options for childcare are limited to babysitters from Kai’s school. Kai does go to school 2 days a week which hardly helps with my ongoing scheduling crisis. My mom has saved the day a few times by taking care of Kai. However that is a lot to ask of her while she works, and lives in Eugene with Doc the surfer, her dedicated workout schedule, 3 cats, 2 dogs, 42 houseplants and a beautiful garden.

As I reflect on my current situation and my past idea of how flexible being a flight attendant is I wonder, is it worth it?

Funny part is that while I was writing this post, somebody picked up two very difficult days for me next week. This flight attendant schedule is a bit like a bad relationship-always talking yourself into it and just when you want to end it, something wonderful happens. I was almost positive that I wouldn’t get those two days off so had multiple plans with multiple people in place. Not to mention the mandatory meeting I had four other people reschedule, just in case. As I write a $200 check and pop it in the mail to the flight attendant who picked up my days, I have new hope for next week!