I was cradling my coffee in one hand and refreshing my emails with the other. “I think my thumb is getting a cramp. Or repetitive strain injury. Either one.”
“Stop checking… you wanted to leave anyway!” Boyfriend rolled his eyes at me.
“You’re right. I wish they would just hurry up and email me though; get this thing bloody over with… so that I don’t keep checking my phone with dread.” I sighed. It reminded me of ripping a plaster off. Which was better? One quick, sharp burst of pain, followed by instant relief? Or painstakingly peeling it back slowly, but knowing what to expect. Definitely the first one, I thought to myself.
For the rest of that day, I didn’t bother to check my emails. If it was going to happen – and it was – then there was nothing I could do to change it. Better to accept my fate, and carry on without overthinking it. HA!
Me and Kasia were sat in Cafe Nero, bucket sized coffees on either side of us. A bleak effort to stave off the exhaustion that had been consuming us thanks to too many sleepless nights, worrying what the future would hold for not only us, but our friends too. I’d go to bed at one in the morning, only to find myself staring at the ceiling come five or six. Even my usual saviour sleeping tablets weren’t much help this time around.
“What will we do, Pam? There’s no jobs anywhere now.” Kasia’s eyes looked heavy.
“I don’t know, but something will come up. I mean, we both hated our jobs, and maybe this is going to be the making of us! It’s the push we needed to re-evaluate .” I personally had been leaving forever, but I just never seemed to be able to take that plunge.
Just as she nodded in agreement, my phone pinged.
“You have mail”.
Tentatively, I clicked on the email icon, and there it was. “You have been scheduled a Business Update appointment. Your attendance is mandatory.” I had expected it, but seeing it there in black and white, on a random unassuming Wednesday afternoon, my heart sank.
I had never been fired from a job before, and had always left previous employment on good terms… This – whatever I was feeling, was new to me. It clicked. I felt R-E-J-E-C-T-E-D. I was rejected for a job that I didn’t even like.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way! I was supposed to resign first, or tell them that I didn’t want to renew my contract. The only way I could articulate my emotions as I cried to Kasia, was that it somehow felt like I’d been dumped by a guy that I didn’t even like. That epiphany you have when you realise that someone isn’t treating you the way you deserve – yes! You tell yourself that you will break the news of your incompatibility to them the next time you meet in person, in a mature and kind manner. But then, before you get the chance, out of nowhere, the asshole tells you some blasé story like, “I’m just not feeling it. I don’t think you have potential.” This isn’t how it was supposed to be! It should have been the other way round, except now your self esteem has been crushed to a pulp.
“Do you want me to stay with you tonight?” Kasia asked me as she squeezed my hand. I just wanted to be alone.
Driving home, I was cursing myself. Had I honestly just spent money on a hair cut and colour? If only I knew what was coming, I’d have demanded a refund and bonding off the ends reattached. Christ, I’d even volunteer as a floor sweeper for the week. And really Pam, had that bikini been a necessary purchase?
I traipsed through the door, dragging my feet as I went. “I got fired.” I told boyfriend. “YAAAAAY!” He beamed across to me. Deadpan, I looked at him. “What YAY?” Had he really just ‘YAY’ed me into unemployment?
It wasn’t even five pm and already I decided that the rest of the day was cancelled. I pulled my cosiest pyjamas on, and flunked down on the couch. “You wanted to leave anyway Pam, you said it yourself just yesterday.” The boy had a point. Even the fortune teller told me several years ago that I would be on the ground just before I turned thirty-two. (Damn, she was good after all!) but… but… but. EUGH!
The emails kept circulating, and in the following days, I didn’t know a single friend of mine who was sleeping through the night. Everyone was waking up with palpitations, in a cold sweat panic about the future. It’s the panic of being in a foreign country. Things like visas and healthcare loom over you with uncertainty, where as in countries like the UK, you’re covered by the safety net of benefits and housing under government initiatives. In Dubai, there’s no such thing for expats. You work and if not, you go home.
Kasia’s meeting coincidently coincided on the same day as mine. Just as we had began our careers together, we ended our careers together, Costa cups of coffee in hand, almost 6 years to the day it had all began.
It was some kind of bittersweet closure – not being alone. There had been no moment of my time in Dubai, where she wasn’t involved in some way. How would it be now? We posted a little picture together, with a fitting caption strewn across it, “hired together, fired together!”, Kasia of course wearing a t-shirt that said KISS MY ASS.
Almost immediately, both of our inboxes were flooded with supportive messages. “HOW, WHERE, WHEN, WHY, WHAT NOW, WHAT NEXT, AHHHH”. I felt overwhelmed. All of these questions, and I didn’t know the answers. BUZZ BUZZ BUZZ. Typical of myself, I did what I always do in these situations. Mute the phone and zone out. A few glasses of wine, and some dim sum later, the situation was as rosé as the free flowing wine that was going down too easily.
I had always known that deep within me, I was capable of so much more than chicken or beef. Kasia knew it of herself too. I felt it in my gut each time some passenger rudely yelled in my face. It flared up in me, every single time some do-gooder jobsworth patronised me in the briefing or had preconceived opinions of me based on where I’m from. I felt exasperated when enduring things such as manager meetings because one supervisor had logged a feedback report stating that my spectacles were ‘too big for my face’ – another small head issue. God forbid the pearls adorning your ears be bigger that one centimetre in diameter! How OFFENSIVE. I kid you not, supervisors had RULERS to measure earrings width. No, I would not miss luke warm leftover aircraft meals. I would not miss the shifts that were never ending, or being awake for thirty something hours on ULR flights. I wouldn’t miss packing and unpacking and repacking and unpacking… nor would I miss traipsing through airports at 4am lugging a big suitcase behind me while wearing uncomfortable heels. And the jetlag? Not one bit. They omitted the fine print when they sold us the dream.
What I would miss though? Flying with my friends. Galley FM gossip. I’d miss five star hotel cosy beds, and fancy spas, with hours free to pamper myself. I’d miss the Christmas markets and the European summers. I’d miss trips home to see my family and friends. Don’t forget the spontaneous swaps that took me to my favourite cities. Oh, and I’d definitely miss the discounts that we opportune in beauty salons!
They say that your profession doesn’t define you, but in a job that’s so intertwined with so many aspects of your life, it’s a lifestyle.
“What will you do?” I asked Kasia. “Go back home, I guess.” she replied forlornly, scraping at the coffee cup in front of her..
The world was our oyster. But oysters lie deep at the bottom of the sea. Who know’s where life is going to take us now, but I only know that it’s going to be great. The sting – it’s just where the bandaid was ripped off quickly, and now that my feet are solidly on the ground, there’s time to go anywhere and get into a field where I am most passionate. Writing.
So hit me up if you need someone to write your biography or a memoir or whatever, and I promise I’ll work harder than I ever did on all of my flights combined.
It’s all about perspective, and from here, I can see the moon and it’s shining like a beacon in the dark, save for a few few clouds along the way.