Bolstered by my newfound confidence, I eventually applied for a position with Continental Airlines and was hired as a flight attendant. Despite my schedule, I managed to stay close to my siblings. Some extra effort was required, but those special ties were too important to be broken or allowed to slip, for even a little while.
The sky was my university. I learned about life, including its cultural aspects, and I met many interesting people. A 12-year-old Michael Jackson was among the passengers on one flight. His family had booked all of first class. I asked him to autograph a cocktail napkin for Tracey, who was a big fan. I saw Robert Redford in Denver and served coffee to Flip Wilson.
Still, I was not prepared for what was about to happen next. On December 6, 1975, I was in the LAX terminal waiting to board a flight to Lubbock, Texas. I was to be the extra flight attendant to help on a full flight. I wore my winter uniform – plain black overcoat, black Fedora and a scarf that was a splash of the Continental colors, yellow, white and orange.
I was writing a letter to Tracey when I looked up and saw a young man stepping off the escalator and heading straight towards me. He was tall and so handsome. He deposited his garment bag on the seat next to me and asked if I would watch it while he went for a newspaper. I said “yes” quickly. He was so polite and had such a kind and gentle way that I kept thinking. “Now why can’t more men be like that?” It didn’t occur to me that he could have asked anyone to watch his garment bag, or that his real purpose was to speak to me.
John obviously thought that I was a passenger and I said nothing to make him believe otherwise. It was not until after we boarded and I gave the emergency oxygen demonstration, that he realized I was a flight attendant. I’ll never forget the direct and special way he looked into my eyes. It made me want to protect him, to look out for him always, feelings heretofore reserved only for my family. My intuition told me I had found someone very special.