10 May 2016

Unexpected Struggles

The past week and a half has been a struggle.

Not just in a #thestruggleisreal kind of way. I mean the word in its truest sense: I mean I had to make a forceful and violent effort against obstacles to continue going about my life.

Being a flight attendant is not an easy job. I wouldn't usually call it an intellectual challenge, but it is an emotional one much of the time. Passengers have called me names and yelled at me this week. I have worked with coworkers who saw how young I am and decided they needed to knock me down a peg, and spent days treating me with condescension and disrespect. One passenger mocked me for an entire day because I told her to sit down during takeoff. Another yelled at me for checking to see that her seatbelt was fastened. A woman tried to get in a fight with me because I smiled at her while politely asking her to stow her bag for takeoff. A man intentionally tripped me while I was going down the aisle. Things like this happen all the time, but the past 10 days they all sort of clumped themselves together and happened at once.

Be nice to your flight attendants, guys. We're there for your safety. We're literally just trying to help you. We know that traveling is stressful, and the seats are too small, and delays are miserable, and you have to get to your business meeting/cousin's wedding/grandmother's funeral/Carribbean vacation on time, but there's also only so much we can do. Don't forget that we're human, too.

Because in the midst of all that, I was also squatting down to ask little kids what they'd like to drink at their eye level and making their day. I was rushing against the flow of deplaning to help a young man with a gushing nose bleed. I was letting a little old woman lean on me so she could get to her seat without any trouble. And I was following procedures to make sure that you are 100% safe while you travel today.

But you're not here to read about me complaining about life in a combined customer service and safety professional role. You're here because if my inbox last Sunday is anything to go by, you're dying to know what Mr. Mess had to say.

Long story short: it was an apology.

Oh yes. You read that right. Mr. Seven-Months-Too-Late barged into my life with no preamble, demanding my time and attention so he could apologize. For all the ways he done me wrong. In an effort to extend him the most basic-level human courtesy I can scrounge up to offer him, I'm not going to copy out the text messages here, out of respect for his privacy.

If I try to shut down my emotions on the subject, I suspect that Mr. Mess has been dealing with some serious guilt, and this was him making an effort to do the right thing. As I've said all along, he's a good person who treated me very well while we were dating…right up until the moment he panicked and decided it could never work…without talking to me.

He claimed that he wasn't apologizing to me to ease his conscience, but if he'd really been thinking of me, he wouldn't have played the game of trying to convince me to call him without telling me what it was about (Keep in mind that my first thought was that one of his parents must have died.). He also might have considered that trying to make me feel better now about something that happened last year was a lot like forcing stitches into a wound that's already closed up. It caused me unnecessary pain. Each thing he said, every item on the long list he apologized for, was like forcing a needle into that scar, ultimately just ripping it open again. I could have used those stitches last fall, not now. And being told what a fool he was for letting me go? You're preaching to the choir, Mr. Mess. I guess I'm glad you finally saw the light? Sort of? I don't know. I don't really know how to feel about it all except angry.

But I didn't tell him any of that. In a desperate attempt to be a good person, I thanked him for the attempt to give me closure, and very firmly told him goodbye.

And so my week began with the struggle of interacting with other human beings.

What about Mr. Suburb? I did hear from him a few times (although not lately). Nothing earth shattering, but nice. He asked a lot of questions about my job, and was friendly, but also continued feeding my impression that he's a bit shy. I was really happy to hear from him, and I kept thinking that maybe I could do it. Maybe I could make the suburbs work. After all, it was only a 45 minute drive to Wheaton from my apartment. Without traffic. It could work.

Shut up. It could.

…and then I had a really rough night in which I found out what a Chicago City Sticker was by way of a $200 fine courtesy of the City of Chicago Police Department.  Just what I need while I'm in fear of losing my apartment (subplot: found out that both of my roommates are moving out and I'm probably going to be forced to leave my home).

So there I was: in tears and driving my fugitive car over to a friend's place to park until I could attain said sticker. It suddenly dawned on me that what I wanted more than anything in that moment was someone to come over to my place and cuddle with me. To bring a bottle of wine and say "Hey, babe, it's going to be okay. No big deal." I wanted to be able to call him up and say "Hey, can I come stay with you tonight?" and know that someone would comfort me through all of my stress. Essentially, I wanted someone who would be there for me. Not someone I'd have to drive an hour to go see. It's one thing to date someone for a while who later moves further away. But to try to start dating someone who lives somewhere I don't want to ever move would just be a fool's mission. It would take so much effort just to get to know him well enough to decide if I want to date him seriously.

I'm still not convinced I wouldn't agree to see Mr. Suburbs again if he does come into town, or if my friends Mei and David invite me to hang out as a group again. I had fun with the man, and he was very sweet to me. No harm seeing him again. That said, I'm pretty sure I'm going to avoid starting anything serious with him.

Not that I'm in any great danger. As I said, I haven't heard from him in a little while now. I doubt he's going to be offering to make good on that promise to take me to dinner any time soon.

C'est la vie. I have more important things to worry about. Like not losing my apartment. And paying off that $200 fine. And the fact that hey! I just got a [sort of] promotion at work. I'll still be a flight attendant, but I'm taking some time away from flying (and people who call me names and trip me down the aisle of the aircraft) to learn some new technology my company is going to be using and then train my coworkers on how to use it.

See what I did there? Check out that silver lining. Positivity all the way. Life has definitely been really rough lately, and I'm continuing to struggle my way against the current, but at least something good showed up amidst all the drama and anxiety. I can do this. I can get through this. Just a month ago everything felt like it was coming up roses. It will feel that way again soon. Definitely. Just going to keep telling myself that….

P.S. I'm taking a serious look at starting up again with an online dating site even though I definitely can't afford it right now.

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