TOP 5 Things This Flight Attendant Will Miss About the Pandemic
I had an out-of-state visitor this weekend in tiny Rhode Island. Filled with host anxiety and determined to have the best New England weekend ever, I threw together an itinerary that included coastal nature trails, delicious Italian food, Boston Harbor views, and, of course, Lobstah rolls.
The food was good, the views were good, the company was great, but one thing struck me as odd. In all the restaurants we visited, masks were optional. I know, I know, these changes were coming, I heard mumbled references to it on the News, but I’m always multitasking when I’m listening to the news! I guess I wasn’t prepared for the change.
I hesitated as I removed my mask standing at the host desk. Felt like a defiant child, somehow getting away with wrongdoing, while I walked mask-less to our table. Getting ready for dinner Saturday night, I lamented “I just needed more warning that I would have to show my whole face.” I tried to remember how to apply lipstick and felt lucky that the darkness of night and dim outdoor lighting would be on my side.
I’ve been fully vaxxed for over a month now. Still, the Pandemic has felt like a bubble around us all. A scent in the air, dye coloring the water we’re swimming through, the normal to which we’ve become accustomed over the past year. It is coming to an end. If not the actual virus, (There were 14,349 reported cases, 2,574 hospitalizations, and 325 deaths due to COVID in the past 7 days, according to the CDC.) then at least Pandemic precautions. We are exiting the bubble.
This is great. It means we are moving in the right direction; at the tail end of the deadliest occurrence we’ve seen in our generation. It means we can go back to “normal”, just in time for Summer. But there are also some things I’m going to miss. Some things I have grown particularly fond of in this bubble. Without further ado, here they are.
The Top 5 Things I’ll Miss About the Pandemic
Before we get started: I am not making light of the death and destruction from COVID-19. I’ll be talking about lifestyle changes that pandemic precautions have prompted that I happened to love.
I know, it’s like I hate them so much, but part of me also loves them. Mask-ne is my current arch nemesis. (At 35, should I really have to be dealing with wrinkles and acne at the same time?) But there are also upsides to mask wearing, such as:
- Not feeling pressure to make my whole face look “pretty” for society. Damn, I have been lax on the makeup this year and it feels go-o-o-ood!
- Not being told or asked or coaxed by men to smile. (If you don’t understand why this is a problem, check out this piece by Gina Davidson that sums it up) This is the NUMBER ONE BEST thing about masks. Literally, ask any woman. And I don’t even know how I’m going to react after this year off once men get to see my face and start demanding emotions from me again.
- Being able to talk to yourself in public and no one sees. I am all day in a conversation with myself or singing behind my mask and not a head turns.
- Your RBF doesn’t look quite so severe when it’s only the eyes telling people to Fck off.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be happy to not wear masks. I just joined a gym in my town—something I’ve been putting off since December because I refused to attend a gym in a mask. It is nice to see other people smiling and laughing. (Kind of.) And on those days where I’m rushing to get to work (more than I care to mention), not having a mask to huff and puff and sweat into will sure be nice.
Every flight attendant will attest that not having to police masks on the airplane, when that day comes, will be a true blessing.
I’m just saying, damn I feel exposed.
Don't tell me to smile.
2. An empty social calendar
Oh laaawd where has antisocialism been all my life?! Forced to stay home, I had time, for the first time, to actually enjoy the solitude, peace and quiet of being a recluse. I did not hate it. It prompted me to wonder why I’ve spent the majority of my life being so social.
No social commitments meant getting full nights’ sleep every night. Productive days and relaxing ones too. The money saved on dinners out and birthday get togethers, weddings and showers, could make you rich. Money saved on new outfits to wear to said events. On Ubers and trains and planes to get there. My feet were thrilled to have four months off from wearing high heels while I was out of work. And I thoroughly enjoyed checking in with friends via text, phone, Zoom, or my favorite app Marco Polo, to see how they were holding up in lieu of in-person get togethers.
In a post-pandemic world, I’m going to be a lot more selective with my social calendar. I won’t be saying yes to every invitation that comes my way. My FOMO has been deflated, and I know if I miss a great night out to catch up on sleep, reading or me time, that I can join in on the next one. I’ll be listening more closely to my body and being mindful of my emotional and mental bandwidth. Do we really want to get dressed and go out and stay out late and figure out a ride or parking and pay $100 for dinner? Maybe yes and maybe no. But having a year off from socializing has me looking at every invite in a more discerning way.
Now the old Cartman adage is true: “I do (only) what I want”
3. Higher Priorities
Being afraid for our lives had a way of making people less dickish in early pandemic days. And, y’all, this is something I will miss. Nowhere was this change more apparent than on the airplane. Empty flights and woes of the airline industry were top news and on everyone’s mind, but what I couldn’t stop talking about was how nice people were. There was nary a complaint of a broken TV, no tantrums over the (self-selected) non-reclining seats in front of the exit row, no swearing monologues over minor delays. People got on the plane, sat in their seats, and occupied themselves quietly until landing safely at their destination.
The way it should be.
Flights are filling and, as you can see from news coverage of in-air fights and assaults on crew, people are getting back to their old ways.
I’d like to make an official plea—on behalf of flight attendants everywhere: Be kind. Be civilized. Recognize the difference between wants and needs. Don’t be a dick.
And while I’m at it, I’ll say the same on behalf of grocery store employees, Uber & Lyft drivers, waitstaff, retail workers, and humans in every other profession in which customers treat them inhumanely.
Let’s extend these higher priorities a while, can we?
4. Pandemic Traffic
Oh the glory of pandemic-era traffic. Quarantining in Boston last Spring, we were delighted to be able to take long, leisurely walks through the city streets to admire flowers in bloom without the background noise of honking horns and screeching tires. Pedestrians ruled the roost in early Pandemic days—took back the cities. I distinctly remember one morning walking through the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston, in the road, with other pedestrians, and realizing it was rush hour. A car would pass by every ten minutes or so, and if you’ve driven on Beacon Street before, you understand how much of a shock this was. This happened in cities around the US as businesses closed their doors and white collar workers stayed home to work remotely.
And driving somewhere!? A gee-golly DREAM! Cruising on the freeway like it was the open roads of middle-of-nowhere USA. Rush hour? What rush hour. We don’t do that here anymore.
We do now. I have the pleasure of a two-highway, traffic-filled, one-hour drive to work. I get to also sit in this traffic on hot Sundays in June when people are out visiting relatives, going to the beach, or to the airport. Stores are crowded, planes are crowded, but by far the worst crowds are the ones in cars. And especially the ones in front of me when I’m running late to work.
5. Me time
In 2020 I found myself unemployed for the first time in my life. And while this was devastating for millions of Americans, for me it was a gift. Four months of paid time off, while the airlines tried to minimize staffing costs to meet rock-bottom demand. I’ve been working since I was 16 years old, and this was a dream come true. I used the time wisely.
I got to work on my personal goals. I created and met weekly deadlines for this blog. I created a YouTube channel about learning to be a better activist. I dug into my ‘dream writing’—this is what I call the writing projects that don’t fall into a category of “blog”, “travel post”, or “professional correspondence.” The passion projects that I hope to have published one day. The ones that will make my dreams come true. I worked on my music. Dusted off songs I’d written over the years that I’d been too scared to show to the world, and wrote a whole bunch of new ones. I started posting music videos singing these songs, to encourage myself to get over my stage fright. (And fuck, it was scary.)
I read. I read books, I read articles, I read news, and I read a lot about America’s ugly roots (otherwise known as ‘Things I Should Have Learned in School.’) I took an environmental science class—for fun. I started a very minimal yoga practice, which was better than my previous practice of saying “I’ve really got to start doing yoga one of these days.”
I took care of myself. I got into serums and high-quality SPFs and skin care. I did foot masks and face masks and hair masks. I watched what I ate and I was kind to my body. I got enough sleep and I exercised daily, even if it was a long walk through the streets of Boston or the wooded trails of Southern Maine. I drank lots of water. I ate very, very well.
In essence: I suddenly had time to do all those things we, as busy Americans, wish we had time to do. I got to put my needs and wants first. I got to allocate my time as I saw fit. I was able to pour all my best energy into the things I truly care about, rather than waste it working for someone else. (JK, I love my job. But you know what I mean.)
This abundance of ME Time is the thing I’ll miss most about 2020 and Pandemic days. (I’ve already apologized for being selfish about the Pandemic, so I’m not going to do it again here, but know that I know.)
Now, working full time, being a homeowner of a 100-year old house in New England, and also getting back into having a social life, I’m finding it extremely difficult to fit in all those other things—those passion projects, the yoga practice, the reading of books. I find myself on layovers not wanting to leave my hotel room, feeling the desire to isolate, self-quarantine again. To have some hours alone where my only responsibilities are to myself. To feel that rush, that great gift of time again.
I’m going to keep working on this elusive “balance” that I’ve heard so much about but have never been able to master. But I’ll also be looking back fondly at these Pandemic years, as times when I came very, very close.
NGL I'm kind of going to miss looking like a unibomber.
And there you have it, the TOP 5 Things I’ll miss most about the Pandemic. I will state one more time that I am not happy that millions of people worldwide are dead, that millions lost their jobs, livelihoods, housing, relatives. I will acknowledge that I was very fortunate to be in the position I was in when the Pandemic struck, and then will say how very thankful I am to have had a glimpse into a different way that things could be. I’m glad we’re coming to the light at the end of the tunnel. But I am so grateful to have gone through it. It was a dark place we were in, yet I found so, so much light.
Thanks for reading. I know you are all sick of COVID-related content, but I hope this one felt a bit different and fresh. What are the things you’ll miss about Pandemic days? Anything? Or are you ready to throw out the 2020 memories and pretend this whole thing never happened? If you are interested in reading some more thought pieces on Pandemic-related stuff (IDK, maybe you are) then check out these four posts. Each (I think) can stand alone, apart from COVID talk, as commentary on our society and our relationships with time, work, and ourselves.
Until next time!