10 Jun 2016

10th June 1997. 8902.

 

 Last night I spotted these British Midland stickers on the door of a travel agents in Glasgow. The ‘Airline for Europe’ no longer exists. The design that was new and fresh back then now feels retro and transports me back to the 10th of June 1997. That’s exactly 19 years ago to this very day, and was the day I joined British Midland, my staff number 8902.

 Back then I was a skinny 21 year old, starting my training course at London Heathrow, miles away from the town where I lived in Scotland. The boxer Barry McGuigan sat beside me on the bus from the airport to the hotel. I wore a grey skirt suit and a white blouse. The first person I spoke to was Xavier, who was Spanish and charmingly confused by my accent. I can remember feeling very nervous because in the gallusness of my youth I had applied for the cabin crew role, despite the fact that I was an anxious flyer who was scared of heights. Yet here I was about to become an air hostess, learning how to evacuate an aircraft and shouting ‘Go.Go. Jump and slide!’ whilst throwing myself down the shute. Putting out real fires with a BCF. Administering oxygen and practising CPR. Crawling across the floor in a boiler suit and mask whilst trying to locate a dummy in a smoke filled cabin. I wondered when the glamorous part would kick in.

 Every detail is etched in my memory because it was the beginning of a huge adventure and a career path that lasted 10 years.

   
Working for British Midland opened my eyes to a whole new world. At times I had a lot of responsibility for a young person. I was just 24 the first time I was in charge of a flight. It could be really challenging, particularly the period directly after 9/11 but most of the time I just had a hooley. The laughs we had in the galley, the games we played like ‘Pick A Passenger’or giving the captain words to fit into announcements. The best bit was the banter we had with the regular commuters, I really loved the passengers with all their stories.

It taught me so much about communication, teamwork, managing people but most of all the beauty of diversity. Life is so painfully dull when everyone is the same. Travel expands your mind and working with people from different cultures and backgrounds totally enhanced my life and shaped my thinking.

 My current role still involves meeting lots of new people and fitting into different work cultures and environments but these days my feet are always on the ground, even if my head is sometimes still in the clouds.

 It’s good to be reminded of times when you were brave enough to take a chance on something or someone. It’s good to remember how it feels to be scared and how good it feels to achieve something that challenged you to the point where your heart is thumping in your chest.

Nothing is forever. Today the 21 year old me is telling the 40 year old me to take chances and learn along the way. To spend time with people who have different experiences, to listen more than you talk and most importantly to have a laugh while you’re doing it. I’m going to listen to her, will you?

(Hat tip from a navy gloved hand to my fellow Midlandettes, and to the regular passengers who enjoyed the afternoon teas and sipped champagne served from mini bottles. Respect to the pilots and the crew who shared the early starts, late finishes and the dreaded night Ibiza flights.) 

Thanks for reading. Annie Boyd is a marketing consultant specialising in social media strategy. Her clients range from large public sector organisations to SME's. She enjoys working with individuals or teams who are open to new ideas and who like to look for solutions rather than look at problems! Get in touch if you'd like to have a chat about working together.

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