“Meghan, What is your employee number?” The manager standing behind the table reading my name off of my uniform asked.
A million possibilities ran through my head of why she could be asking for this identification. Oh my gosh! What did I do? Why is she asking for my number?! Was I not allowed to eat this?! Maybe if I just back away slowly I won’t get in trouble…
As the goody-two-shoes, I always follow the rules and HATE getting into trouble, so any time a manager asks something work related from me, I become nervous. This time, I obliged with the requested digits. The manager quickly jotted the information down and then informed me that she was entering me into a raffle for being in uniform compliance. Oh. Right.
Relief spread over me and I thanked the kind manager while continuing to peruse the free lunch that was being offered at the crew room at my JFK base. I gathered my food and returned to my corner in the lounge of my airline’s biggest hub. I giggled to myself as I contemplated the genius of luring flight attendant’s with free food as a way to judge uniform compliance. You know flight attendants can’t pass up a free meal.
I continued to think about the moment with me, my manager, and the uniform. I am so proud to wear my uniform. I love looking fabulous in it too. It felt really good to be recognized for wearing it to the standard that my airline expects. It’s the little things.
The flight attendant uniform stands for a lot of things: medical responder, waitress, maid, babysitter, cook, psychiatrist… The list just goes on and on. When something symbolizes so many things, why wouldn’t you want to wear it with pride? I often wonder this as I see disheveled flight attendants wandering around the airport. Don’t get me wrong, there are days when I show up looking less than 100 percent, but still in compliance, nonetheless. I understand that everyone has those days, but there is a difference between blatant disregard and having a bad day.
I have been approached before by a friend who simply cannot fathom being on the airlines schedule constantly and looking, dressing, and acting “the same” as each other. If this is something you might struggle with- the conformity of “looking the same”- then think long and hard about the decision to become a flight attendant. The uniformity is a symbol that you are proud of your job, colleagues, and airline.
You should be proud. You are one of the 4 percent. 96 percent of hopefuls never get to where you are.
Although we may look alike in our uniforms, flight attendants are one of the most diverse groups of people you will ever meet. I work with some of the most interesting people in the world. I just flew with a girl who told me that when she’s not working, she is the exact opposite of what her uniform portrays. When not in uniform, she’s on her skateboard, climbing mountains, or at rock concerts. I also recently flew with a woman who commutes from Florence, Italy to New York City to work her trips. She also speaks four languages like no big deal. I have flown with colleagues who have PhD’s and law degrees. The people who serve diet cokes and pick up waste probably have a story behind that smile.
I am beyond proud to call these people who make up my airline family my coworkers. The least I can do to show this is wear my uniform with pride.