With excitement in my voice and my eyes wide open, “Look dad, it’s a Japan Air Lines 747!” Then a few moments later, “Look dad, it’s a Delta Air Lines 727!” My dad asked, “How can you tell?” With my 7-year-old conviction I said, “It’s the red and blue, dad!”
That was the typical exchange my dad and I had every weekend when we paid our cousins a visit in Torrance. The route my dad would take was all surface streets. It would take us through downtown, then Exposition Park and my favorite, the flight path of LAX making it a long drive time, every time. My dad would slow down just so I could see the majestic airplanes coming in for a landing. He knew the road he took would lead me to an aviation career one day.
Our trips to Thailand was always exciting to me because of the airplanes. My dad made sure I would have a window seat just so I could look outside. Then I started noticing cabin crews: What they do, how they interact and their duties. I knew that I’d want to be “that” one day. It was more than just the work, it was the desire to see the world and taste other cultures. Somehow, my dad saw that spark in my eyes and felt my desire to spread my wings.
Years had passed and numerous attempts of employment at a few airlines…the rejection letters came in. I began to question myself, “am I a good fit for the airlines?” “What should I do differently?” However, my dad kept my spirits high and never let any setbacks dampen my appetite to fly. “Don’t worry, when it’s your time, it’ll be yours.” So I kept on trying.
My time was November, 2000, at the flight attendant graduation ceremony in Atlanta, he stood ever so proud of his son. He said, “Always remember to wear your smile.” I still hear his voice every time I don my navy blues.
Fast forward to January 2012. It was now my turn to be in that driver’s seat, taking my dad to the airport for a trip to Bangkok. The roads may have change but the connection between a father and his son was still strong. On our way to LAX for our flight to Bangkok, I glanced back through my rear view mirror to see my father staring at the planes coming in for a landing. He asked me, “which airline is that? “What type of plane is that?” He always inquired with excitement in his eyes. As we approached the departure level, he leaned over and whisper to me, “I’m proud of you.” Little did I know, that would be his last trip back to Thailand.
To the man who piloted my desire to travel,
Happy Father’s Day.