19 May 2008

Becoming a Flight Attendant

No, not me. With my kind of temperament, it'll never happen. :)

However, I bought a flight attendant career guidebook from FlightAttendantCareer.com (see aviation links on the sidebar) anyway, and read it today, because I wanted to give Sarah the most authentic experience I could get. It detailed a typical monthly shift for a flight attendant (bidding for routes, flying reserve, etc.), as well as the application and training process.

I am realizing that Sarah could write a memoir just using the application and training process, because the application process will showcase not only Sarah's past, but also her personality traits. Trying to put up a truthful face about her past, as a pre-operative transwoman, will definitely take a lot of nerves. (I'm also looking forward to writing about her physical prior to training.) And honestly, she won't even have to actually go to work as a flight attendant, and the memoir will still work.

I am thinking that instead of covering Sarah's entire career through now, the memoir could even concentrate on her early career, and the relevant developments at United Airlines at that time (i.e. recognition of domestic partners of employees, new route to Shanghai, re-opening of the Seoul route, etc.). Particularly, the devastating pilot strike of 2000 could really play a role here. I still want to write the whole career out, covering 9/11, bankruptcy, and other later events (not to mention relationship with Kirsten and marrying her in 2004), but at least I have other options for tackling this project.

One thing that the guidebook mentioned is that roommates during training become close friends - and roommates again, as new flight attendants often get based in cities far away from home. (In fact, willingness to relocate is a job requirement - though relocation itself doesn't last long.) I will reflect this by having Sarah and Martha room together, as the two token transwomen of the training class, and move in together after training (though they will still be in San Francisco). Martha's background is still up in the air though, as I need to come up with 10 years of legitimate work history (or legitimate time off work).

I used to be a strict believer in having a structure upfront first. But now, I'm just writing whatever I can, and I guess I'll let the structure follow later. Whether it'll cover Sarah's entire career, or just a part of it, I'll see what I can do.

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