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Clocking Out: Life as a Flight Attendant

March 7, 2010  
Filed under Profiles / Interviews

An exclusive one-on-one with Mexico’s cabin crew member.

Spanish to English translation: By Ruth Palma

We recently spoke with Obed Martinez Morales, a Mexican native and male flight attendant who works for Mexico’s global airline. Here he opens up about where he grew up, the weirdest encounter he experienced on the job and what he thinks about life—how each takeoff and landing sobers him up. He also dispels a common stereotype among male flight attendants, many who enter into this profession to become pilots.

CM: Were you surprised to be interviewed?

OM: Yes, because this is the second time I was asked and I never imagined that my job would give me the opportunity to share what I do with so many people…and especially their interest in knowing about it.

CM: How did you begin as a flight attendant in your company? Did you always want to be a flight attendant?

OM: Not really. I never imagined that I would be a flight attendant. Everything started when I began college. I was in my first semester taking accounting and a friend told me about this job. When I finished college, I didn’t have a job. Then I found the info my classmate had given me. I called just to know if they were hiring…and then everything changed from there.

The beginning was difficult…I had to compete with more than 5,000 people. They divided us in groups of 100 for English, physical and psychological tests. My group was reduced to 20…then altogether we were 60 people. The 60 were sent to the main office for more testing. Then 12 were chosen to be hired. We attended Winds of America where we went through strenuous training and preparation to be part of all the different teams the airline has. We had to apply for the SCT (license for flight attendants) through the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation, and submit other documents that the international laws require. After a month of testing, we were ready to fly.

CM: Do you enjoy your job? What do you like or hate about it, and what’s your schedule like?

OM: I enjoy it a lot. It was difficult at the beginning because I left behind my career, my family, my friends, my home and the small town where I grew up. But this is a job you end up loving or hating. In my case I love it and I enjoy it because it has given me lots of things, and it has allowed me to reach many goals. My favorite part is that each trip is different. It’s a new story and I can meet lots of people from different places and backgrounds. I don’t like the fact that I risk my life daily in each takeoff and landing, but it makes you value your life each day and make you live your life more intensely, as if it were the last. My work schedule varies…everything depends on the sequences of flights and destinations—this being Europe, Asia, North America and South America. Generally we have five days of rest in a month, which is a good time to visit family and friends.

CM: So there is a stereotype that male flight attendants are gay. Is this true in your airline? What do you think about that stereotype?

OM: I believe that nowadays sexual freedom is reflected in many things. But, in this job that used to be exclusively for women, it is believed that all male flight attendants are gay, but it is not true. We can’t generalize because there are some who are, but there are many who are not. Many times the majority of male flight attendants choose this job to pay for their training as pilots so that they can apply for pilot positions. This experience makes it easier to be hired. So the next time you see a pilot, remember that he may have possibly started as a flight attendant. These days, women and men have equal rights and that equality has given us the freedom to do any job. That is why we see men working as nurses, chefs, designers or flight attendants. There are also women as pilots, police officers, boxers, and they are not necessarily gay.

CM: What’s the weirdest thing you experienced on the job?

OM: One day a passenger came to the galley and asked me, “Are these ovens?” I said yes and asked him why and whether he needed anything or needed help. He looked at me in a weird way and repeated, “They are ovens, right? Oven to burn HEADS—as the Nazis did!” Then he returned to his seat, talking to himself. That made me a little afraid. We were monitoring him so that he didn’t do anything out of the norm…crazy, right?

CM: Were you born and raised in Mexico? Any other tidbits you’d like to share about your background?

OM: I was born in the city of Cuernavaca, Morelos. It’s a small city two hours from Mexico City. I grew up in a small town called Acatlipa—45 minutes from Cuernavaca. I did my elementary and secondary education there, and then attended the Cuernavaca military school for three years to pass the preparatory school…and then I spent five years in the state university. I graduated with the equivalent of a master’s degree in public accounting with a concentration in fiscal contributions. I am studying for another degree in psychology from a long-distance university in my state.

My childhood was very quiet. Our town is very small where everyone knows everyone and I enjoyed playing in the streets with all the children in my neighborhood. I learned to develop my artistic talents during school. I learned theater and opera, as well as crafts. I’ve participated in important events and concerts in the state and have organized some vocal and theatrical events.

CM: Tell me something interesting or unique about yourself.

OM: I have a unique talent to sing. I can create harmonies and vocal ensembles without having professional training in music or vocals. I’ve been able to write lyrics since I was 12.

CM: What do you like to do for fun?

OM: I enjoy many things…from a nice dinner and a good conversation to a theater play, movies, concerts, reading a good book to a walk through the city.

CM: Do you believe that there is a God?

OM: Yes, I definitely believe that there is a God—Father and Creator of everything that exists. I believe in Jesus Christ, that he is God’s son and the way to reach eternity. I believe in the Holy Spirit—the same presence of God in the earth to guide us, console us and encourage us every moment…I have decided to believe in God by conviction and not tradition. In the same way a human, by nature, needs to believe in something, I have decided to believe in God and his word.

CM: What do you consider to be the three most important things in your life?

OM: God is first because everything I have and am, and everything I can give comes from Him. Second, myself—taking care of myself, my health, my body, my mind…to have a good balance and center, to be able to grow in every aspect and to experience life to the fullest. Third, family and friends. They are the ones who support and encourage me to follow my dreams and fulfill my wishes. They fill me with love and make me feel accomplished.

CM: What kind of music do you like?

OM: I’m a person who enjoys all types of music. I consider myself very eclectic since I enjoy ballads, salsa and alternative rock to classical. I listen to a lot of music by Mariah Carey, Olga Tañon, La Ley and Vivaldi, just to name a few.

CM: Is this your dream job or do you have another aspiration?

OM: No, personally I would like to do theater music productions. It’s wonderful to see the happiness and wonder in the face of a child when he or she sees all the magic that theater and music can accomplish together…and to be able to encourage their dreams towards reality and challenge their lives to stimulate their creativity for the arts.

CM: Where is your favorite place to travel and why?

OM: I don’t have one favorite. Each place and country has interesting things to see and learn from…I enjoy a walk in Paris with a delicious crepe filled with Nutella and bananas; a bike ride through the temple gardens in Japan and eating delicious teppanyaki; a walk to admire all the skylines of the big cities in USA; the delicious chapatas and all the modernity in Madrid; all the cultures of Central and South America; and why not…I enjoy the sun and beautiful beaches in my beloved Mexico…it has no comparison.

CM: What does your ideal life look like?

OM: To live with a loving and beautiful woman by my side in a warm home enjoying the company of two children and a stable job that allows me to take care of all my needs, help me with my dreams and to live a healthy life in harmony and love. That would be perfect.

CM: Do you have any life advice to give your peers and airline passengers?

OM: To my colleagues, I would say to live intensely. We take our job the best way we can in spite of the physical tiredness, not being able to eat on time, not getting enough sleep and personal problems. In the end since we only have two options—to enjoy or not—I have decided to enjoy it.

To the passengers, listen to the safety precautions when traveling and don’t take things lightly. Although flying is a safe way of transportation, there are risks. So anytime you travel by plane, pay attention to the safety instructions and be able to locate the emergency exits nearest to you because this could really save your lives.


2 Responses to “Clocking Out: Life as a Flight Attendant”
  1. How you think when the economic crisis will end? I wish to make statistics of independent opinions!

  2. Nice post and this enter helped me alot in my college assignement. Thanks you on your information.

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