Docendo discimus, or in English: “By teaching, we learn.” That was the inspirational quote that I found through Google before starting to write this opinion bit reflecting on how much I have learned in my 9-year career as a flight attendant with JetBlue. You see, before every flight, when I show you how to fasten your seatbelt, you might think you are the one learning. But in actuality, I learn more in those moments than any of my students ever have.
Each time I have the honor of adjusting and then fastening the prop seatbelt on our Airbus A320, I always learn something new. You have no idea how many ways people can struggle with these things. But it’s through that struggle that I see the best in humanity. You have no idea, and neither did I. Until I demonstrated the same 45-second liability bit almost every day for 9 years. “Keep moving the part of the seatbelt on your right into the part onto your left until you here the click. Never stop,” I tell them. This takes some real grit and determination for some people, but it’s a challenge they always meet.
I’m also endlessly inspired by the curiosity of my students. “How do I make this thing tighter?” or “Can I turn my phone back on yet?” are the types of questions I hope they never stop asking themselves.
Just like any teacher, my job can be difficult at times. Sometimes you have to wake up a passenger who’s drooling all over himself just to check whether or not he has his seatbelt fastened under his blanket. Sometimes you have to let parents know that they will have to prioritize their own life over their children when it comes to air masks.
But then there are the times when somebody reaches deep inside their seat and pulls the male-connector part of their seatbelt out from down beneath the cushion. The look of joy, of exuberance, on their face for having overcome such a challenge. I would say that it’s only matched by the huge smile across my face.