I’ve chosen Corporate Flight Attendant and Chef Erin Marie for today’s post of “Case of the Fridays“. Erin works wherever her job offers her to go – everywhere from Vancouver to Paris to Madrid to South America. Her work is structured in a way that she can accept or reject offers for certain trips, and comes frequently and sporadically at times.
I chose Erin because her lifestyle has provided her with the opportunity to see the world, meet some pretty incredible people, and share her experience with friends back home. Her kind hearted nature and outgoing personality that contains a never-ending curiosity has piqued my interest to find out more about her story. When she travels, she makes it a point to ‘really’ explore the land, culture, and customs – and has some unique insight to offer anyone that’s curious about traveling.
During our interview she gave me a tour of the jet she works on, and got to meet a couple of the pilots as well.
Here’s an image to give you a visual for the following conversation taking place.
What is your name/age?
Erin Marie – 28
What is your occupation?
Corporate Jet Flight Attendant
Where did you grow up?
How long have you been doing what you currently do?
3 and a half years
Did you have a 9-5 job before that?
I did. Well before the flight attending, I was pursuing cooking…so I was pursuing being a sushi chef while working at Mr. A’s.
I also worked at a recycling center working as the office manager – it was NOT fun.
But it was because of the kitchen jobs that I got this job.
How did you become involved in the work that you currently do?
It was a referral by a friend – I used to do Tuesday family dinners and she would always come eat with us – and her boss was looking for a new flight attendant that could cook – that was the main requirement. So I made him and his wife a meal…and they hired me!
How much longer do you envision yourself working in the field that you’re in?
I tell my friends that if I’m 65 and I get a call for a trip to Thailand I’ll probably take it. Ha!
What level of schooling have you completed?
3 years of SDSU and I never finished.
What is it that you love about your work?
Everything. I like meeting new people, going new places, experiencing different things. I also get to make things nice for people on the plane and adding value to their experience – I like doing that.
You’ve also gotten to meet some pretty famous people doing what you do. What are some of the more interesting ones that you’ve met?
I’ve flown a lot of very famous actors, actresses, and musicians – but unfortunately I cannot disclose any names as a confidentiality agreement I have with my company.
Some fascinating conversations that I’ve had have been just businessmen. I have a favorite older couple that frequents SD, Vancouver, and Bermuda – they fist pump before they take off and they’re just so nice. They met at University and used to have to split a hamburger and French fries because they were so poor. But I’ve also flown businessmen that have innovated their industries and done some incredible things. There was a motivational speaker that was just spouting off incredible quotes and was just SO well spoken. One time we just took a flight to go see a Monday night football game and he took his most valued clients. Really just an awesome guy.
What would you say is important to consider if you want to make a good trip for oneself?
Do a little bit of research beforehand of course – then spend as little time in your hotel room as possible. Don’t be afraid to ask locals what they like to do…be friendly – it always leads to something interesting. Be open.
Are there any places/experiences you’d recommend?
One of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen – the most shocking – was when I flew into Calgary…I did the ice fields parkway drive…right past Banff – I was running on a glacier in my flip flops – it was the most intense scenes I’ve come across.
What is your least favorite thing about your work?
Oooh…hmm…maybe this one time where I had just been traveling like crazy where I was going 21 days non-stop…in a place where I didn’t really want to be…where I just wanted to be home with friends and those that are close to me. Trips like that are just physically and mentally exhausting.
(As we’re talking she gets an inquiry for a trip to Cancun on her phone.)
Is there any place you really want to visit?
Yes, Japan, Austrailia, South Africa, Brazil. I’d love a Morocco trip. It’s funny – whenever I want to go somewhere, my mom will offer to help out by putting the destination as her desktop background – you know, to put the vibes out there. And I think it actually works! Haha
What are some of the advantages of your job compared with the regular corporate career?
Travel. (We both laugh) Experiencing life -to what I consider to be- the fullest. I understand this job isn’t for everyone – my friends are getting married and having kids – our lifestyles just aren’t the same at all. They wouldn’t be able to do what I do, and I wouldn’t be able to do what they do.
So in my case -being single with no kids- it really works to my advantage to have these opportunities.
Meeting some really incredible people – that’s pretty awesome too.
What are some of the disadvantages compared with the regular corporate career?
I’m not home on a regular basis. Sometimes my good friends don’t even know when I’m in town – so I miss out on a lot of things with them.
The comforts of home…sleeping in your own bed. Not having those things is a pretty big one.
How different is the dating scene for you? Is it easier/harder to make time to be with your significant other?
That’s funny. The dating scene for me period -with or without this job– is just all about timing. Right now I’m really not searching for that – so it’s really working out just fine right now.
Destination dates right now, haha.
When I’m home – I’m really just spending time with my family and close friends. Not really pursuing a romantic interest for the time being.
Do you tend to prefer to live paycheck to paycheck or with a savings plan accounted for? Is your income predictable and regular, or entirely dependent on what you produce?
My income’s definitely not regular. I get paid per day basis, so if I work 2 days a month, my paycheck shows that – if I work 22 days a month, then it shows too. You definitely have to save some away in case some months people are just not chartering corporate jets. There was a period 3 years ago where the market crashed and a lot of people were out of work. You have to plan for that kind of stuff.
I’ve never been good with money though – haha. I’ll never be good at it, but that’s fine with me.
How do you imagine your retirement, or lifestyle past 60?
A happy one. Just relaxing and doing what I like to do – spending time with my family – making good dinners…sipping on a glass of wine watching the sunset. Talking with the grandkids about past experiences. I’m super nostalgic at 28 so I can only imagine how I’ll be at 78.
Do you see your career facilitating a lifestyle suitable for a family, or do you have the desire to have a family?
Women who do what I do definitely can have families – you can pick and choose your dates –but I really just don’t think it’s suitable for a family– or even just a boyfriend. If you have a serious relationship it’s just not good for that. It’s all circumstantial – I’ll have to meet someone first before I think about having a family.
What are your top priorities in the ‘big picture’?
Living a happy life. Making sure that the people that I love are happy – genuinely happy. Following my passions. I try to leave the world a little bit happier before I got here. Just be a good person.
If you had any advice to someone just graduating college or thinking about switching careers, what would it be?
I think the best advice I could give anyone (not that I am in any real position to give advice), is to be passionately curious about life, in all its forms.
Ask questions, be genuinely interested in the answers you’re given. To just try, to love what you do, to not make excuses.
My girlfriend Michelle just made a beautiful oak table and benches from watching a youtube video. Now she has plans on making more and renting them out for weddings and events. Just like that, an additional income because she went down to Home Depot and gave it a shot. You never know where the day will take you in the morning or who you will meet. Our greatest lessons usually stem from getting knocked on our asses by some sort of failure. The fear of having a dream and not going for it, is much worse than the fear of failing.
I personally don’t want to be that awesome Granny on her death bed thinking about all my what ifs and should’ves. Be nice to everyone, smile, and be genuine. Work hard, and always push yourself to achieve more. Read Linchpin and watch Simon Sinek’s “How great leaders inspire action”. Sit on the shore, and feel humbled. Then go give a stranger a compliment and make their day.
If someone wanted to do your job, what is important to maintain a position?
You have to be a mind reader. You have to be able to assess a situation and be what that person wants you to be. Sometimes people want to talk my ear off and sometimes they want me to be a fly on the wall.
When you’re up at 45k feet, you have to anticipate the wants and needs of other people.
You can’t dwell on a problem either – you just have to fix it right then & there.
Sometimes people aren’t so nice, and they’ll talk down to you or just be flat out rude and nasty – it’s that whole mind-reading thing…you still have to be cordial and give it your all to make them happy. If they want to get mad at something I can’t control – that’s totally up to them.
What’s funny is that a lot of the time – those attitudes are coming from the pilot…there are some pilots that are very difficult to work with – they think that they own the plane.
Who inspires you?
A lot of people…a lot of things…I get inspired just walking down the street. (Laughs) Mostly my family – I have a very small family. My mom is like mother Theresa – the sweetest lady. She has a heart of gold…same with my brother and sister. Although I think that I take a little something from every person I meet, really.
What do you think of authority?
It’s fine. I have no problem with authority. Someone’s given them the position to have it, so I should probably respect it.
What is the personality type of most of the Jet’s clientele?
It really varies so much…some people want the filet, some want the open faced sandwich on wheat bread with Nacho Cheese Doritos. Go figure.
What is it about travel that really opens people’s minds?
There are so many different types of travel – it humbles you a lot. Sometimes it pushes you outside your comfort zone. You’d be silly not to notice these amazing things about the world. Especially when you travel by yourself because you don’t have the comfort of having someone to go to dinner with and have someone to latch on to – it makes you completely comfortable in your own skin. It makes you more confident. You start conversations with strangers at Sushi restaurants. Nobody’s gonna just come to your hotel room and invite you to dinner. You have to go out and make things happen for yourself.
“I’m really glad you made that point – it really does make you more confident, and really makes you realize how to make things happen for yourself. I never really realized that about those experiences, but it’s so true.“
Have there been any places you don’t want to go back to?
Haha, yeah – downtown Detroit. I’ve been a lot of places, but I’ve never felt as unsafe as downtown Detroit. There were homeless people in our hotel lobby walking around – a friend of a friend came to pick me up because it was so sketchy…and on the way back he asked, “you want to see some scary stuff?”
There’s a great town called Birmingham or something – similar to South Coast Plaza in OC – but only 30 minutes south of there…it’s like a war zone. Houses that had been bull dozed over, people walking around cracked out, spray paint all over the place, it was just…bad. I’ve never felt like that before…it was such a crazy scene.
What did you want to be when you want to be when you grew up?
What are some of your favorite sounds?
The ocean. A plane engine starting. Music. Sometimes silence.
What’s your favorite curse word?
I like them all in certain contexts – I call people ass a lot.
What’s your favorite memory from your past?
One of the first memories I have is watching MTV Paula Abdul and my dad would be mowing the front lawn – I’d peek over and watch him. It just sticks out because it was just a perfect day – such a cozy home. He would always do a different pattern in the lawn – I was always excited to see what he would do.
If you were an animal, what kind of animal would you be, and why?
Elephant. I love elephants. Growing up my brother called me Erwin Erwin the elephant that eats peanuts. I don’t know why, but I probably cried. I’ve grown to love elephants and have a lot of them in my house. They’re big and sweet.
What are some of your favorite smells?
Campfires. Santee at night – smells like my hometown. Jasmine. I love going for runs and smelling all the Jasmine around.
What did you get into the most trouble for when you were young?
I didn’t really get in much trouble…I was definitely a brat in my teenage years. I never really had restrictions or had a curfew, and I ended up being the last of my friends to drink or smoke.
If you were a character in a famous movie, who’s role would you play?
Pride and Prejudice – Keira Nightly. She plays Elizabeth Benent and it’s England – not sure what century – but I would have liked to live back them.
If you could go back to any point in history for a month, what time period would you visit?
I’d want to see Rome in its Hayday – or Ancient Greece when it was thriving.
If you had to obtain $1m illegally, how would you do it?
Thomas Crown affair – I’ll steal a painting with a handsome guy like that. We’d be incahoots together.
Which long lost childhood object would you most like to find?
Maybe – (this might sound weird) – something that I don’t even know exists. Like a letter that my mom wrote to me when I was 3 years old.
So are you gonna do that for your kids?
Probably, haha. I’m really corny.
What age do people become “old”, what’s the secret to staying young?
It depends on the person. I don’t think that age is how old you are – it’s a state of mind. My landlord is 80 and in her head she’s not old. There are some people that think that 28 is old, and I still feel really really young.
What’s your favorite quotation?
I’m a quote freak. I have a lot…
Lately, the golden rule has been popping up a lot – like 3 times in the past week. “Do unto others as others would do unto you.”
And then “life’s what you make it – make it good” – Daniel Tosh said that. Before he was Tosh.0
I think lately what’s been resonating with me – is “get outside your comfort zone”. Take that step outside your house and just go do something. People always make comments to me telling me that they’re jealous or that I’m lucky – I got where I am today because I wanted it bad enough. Of course I was lucky with certain opportunities, but the thing is – is that I’ve been open to them.
People have these dreams and they’re just not pursuing their passions. Take the step out the door and you’ll realize that they’re actually attainable.
If someone wanted to get in touch with you and ask you more about what it takes to get involved in your career, what would be the best way?
Yeah, they can message me on Facebook.
On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to get back to them?
A 10, but it might take a few weeks depending on how busy I am. Sometimes I have weeks off and sometimes I don’t have a day. Sometimes I’m off on a trip and exploring – and the last thing on my mind is emails. Even like my trip tomorrow to Kuai – I’ve already researched which hikes I wanna do and all that.