I wrote this story in September 2009 because I have had so many people, including my 3 sons, telling me I should start putting my life's experiences in writing. I never thought that my life would be of much interest to others until now. This story has been told twice by two different inspirational speakers, once in Philadelphia and once in Chicago. Therefore, I put in it writing. I raised my three sons by myself and taught them to pursue their dreams and never give up. Here is my "career" achievement story.
Who knows what the path of life will hold for us? Not even a crystal ball, fortune teller, or any other psychic being would have the answer. To get through this sometimes rough road called life, I have personally found that you must have faith in your own personal strength, pursue your dreams hoping they will become your reality, and never give up. Dreams are what reality is made of.
At the age of 17, like many young women, I had been mesmerized on a flight to Europe by a "Stewardess". She looked like a goddess to me. I couldn't take my eyes off her, watching her walk through the cabin performing her duties, impeccably dressed, coiffed, and manicured. My stay in Europe was for three weeks and all I could think about was the flight home, to watch another "stewardess" in action.
At the age of 19, I was in my second year of college and not sure what my major should really be. I was currently enrolled in liberal arts, not very exciting. All along I had in the back of my mind the desire to be just like the stewardess' I had observed 2 years prior.
I decided to embark on the application process to the airlines. I pursued this painstaking process for 3 years and back then, there was no computers, no email, and all forms were obtained by hand typed letters and the "pony express" mail service.
To my surprise I received 5 requests to be interviewed.
Every airline interview I undertook I was well versed in the airline, their "stewardess" colors, their routes, etc. I made sure when presenting myself at an interview that I was dressed in their colors to look as close to being one of their own.
Letter after letter came stating "thank you but we regret to inform you the position has been filled" came to my mailbox. Year after year I continued my pursuit until I finally realized I must lack something that prevented my acceptance.
This was a devastating reality. I stopped sending out applications and pushed my deepest desire, my passion deep down inside me and went on with what life was to bring to me without the airlines.
My future careers, from the age of 21 through 50, all held one common denominator; Customer Service related duties. Whether I was a receptionist or in management, I always dealt with the public. During this time period, at the age of 31, I had my first child, a set of identical twin boys. Two years later I had my third son. One year later I was divorced.
Life was hard. I was financially devastated, overwhelmed with massive responsibilities, and three beautiful sons who made it possible for me to endure all of it. I reminded myself every morning to keep my faith in God and myself that I could be successful in anything I pursued, but the reality of my suppressed desire to fly was still ever present.
Unfortunately my responsibilities as a mother came first and not what I personally wanted to fulfill for myself. They WERE my life, and so it went on.
The twins grew up, graduated from high school and left for college. When my third son was approaching high school graduation, in the Spring '05, I was currently unemployed from a company that did not understand compassion for their customers. It was all black and white style of business for them. I couldn't endure this cold environment anymore. In November '04, I left.
In January '05, I watched a T.V. program called "Airline" that depicted the everyday happenings of Southwest Airlines travelers. They profiled a Flight Attendant (not "Stewardess" anymore) that was a 50 year old widow, living alone since all her children were grown and had left home. She said she loved working with people and needed to get out of the house, her name was "Billy".
She said she had seen an advertisement for a Southwest Airline open house for flight attendants. She decided to attend and see what the position entailed. After going through the extensive application process, to her surprise, she was hired and sent to training. Because of her exuberance and excitement for the job I realized that she was the same age as I was and if she could get in - so could I! And so it began again.
I pursued a locally based airline so that I did not have to relocate. It took three months for this airline to have an open house in my area but I was ready to go. This open house took two hours and no matter what they said about any of the "torture" I would experience performing this job, I didn't care. I knew from the time I decided to go the open house I was going to be a flight attendant. I knew I wouldn't fail and this was it.
At the end of the open house we were told we would receive a call within the next two days, if they wanted to see us again for a second interview. I received one.
One week later I was back doing the infamous "airline interview" but I wasn't nervous this time. I knew the path I had traveled through life had prepared me for this endeavor.
They once again told us we would receive a phone call within the next two days, if they had chosen us for training.
My phone call came the next morning at 9 a.m. This was the end of March '05 and I was in training in Memphis, TN on April 9, 2005.
Enduring a three week training program, which included a massive amount of studying, (which I hadn't done in 30 years) evacuations, testing, and watching fellow classmates being sent home one by one kept your emotions strung out so tight you felt like a rubber band ready to snap. On top of all of this, we lived in a hotel but the special bond that was created between us all who survived this torture still lives.
While in training, on April 26th, I turned the young age of 51 and on April 27th, I took my final exam - in uniform and passed.
Graduation is a very special event and our bond with our trainers is embedded in our hearts forever. They make graduation very memorable and special for every class.
The moment my flight wings were presented to me I think the Hoover Dam broke. All I could think about was how hard I worked for 30 years to be able to have these wings presented to me. God works in mysterious ways and we are never to question our path. I realized that the mottos I had lived by my entire life by, "dreams are what reality is made of" and "never give up, it's never too late" had served me well.
I am still a flight attendant and have been enjoying every minute for the past 5 years. I realize that I had made the right choice by leaving a job I hated with a passion to pursue a "last" career that would fulfill me and I could say I truly loved.
When I arrived at my home airport, my three sons and my mother were all lined up waiting for me and each one was holding a red rose. They were there to show me their enduring love and support for a woman (their mother and daughter) who took the biggest risk of her life to pursue her dream (at 50), who believed in herself strong enough to try, and to see her in uniform for the first time; the uniform she had been waiting a lifetime to wear.
Copyright © 2009 Denice R. (Bush) Barth
A true story about the life of Denice R. (Bush) Barth - Flight Attendant, for life.
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