Gypsy, staff number 508 558, reporting

Life of a stewardess is not always- a peach!

Discrimination is everywhere. Especially in a country that functions entirely on expats’ work power. Ironic, nonetheless!

Remember when I wrote about having “ my share of discrimination, sexism from all types of passengers”?

Well, when it comes from the leader of the team, a man with more the 20 years in the company, in the same company I work for, the same company with the very same organizational culture, with the same multicultural awareness policy- then I ask myself:

Where did the “ We are all different in culture but equal, we are employees in a cosmopolitan company and any form of discrimination within colleagues shall bear legal consequences” joining pep talk vanish?

The following is the report of the incident that happened in the meeting room at 6 o’clock in the morning. It was written with sense of sacrifice and perspective. It was written for both myself and the friends I fly with. It was written hoping that spring does begin with one flower.

So….

“I am writing to inform about an incident that happened yesterday xxxxx. 2013 in Briefing Room nr. x in preparation for x flight, xxxxx with Captain in charge xxxxxx Sxxxxxxx, Purser in charge Elias.xxx s xxxxx.

After being checked for documents, grooming and safe talk, the Purser asked us to present ourselves as we normally do before a flight. When my turn came, I stated “Good morning, I am Alex, from Romania”. The purser replied “Welcome… we have a gypsy from Romania.” The reply caught me by surprise. I did not know how to react. I only heard laughter and observed some smiling across the table, more or less aware of the nature of the subject or its implications. By the time I got my senses back the Flight Deck had already come in to give us the flying details.

Addressing the incident while still in HQ to the Duty Manager could have affected the time of departure and would have set a negative tense atmosphere for an all-day duty. I tried to stop thinking about the subject as I set my mind on the flight I had to operate. I was visibly affected by my senior’s words (This can be supported by the economy crew) however I focused on my responsibilities. At a certain moment of the flight, the Purser came behind me as I was doing the bar service and stated” Gypsy, gypsy, gypsy”. As I was neither reacting because I was serving the customers nor establishing eye contact he added “Do you hate me?” as he passed by me.

I informed the Captain in charge about this incident when we reached arrivals. I also informed the JC SFS that I will address this issue as I find it unprofessional, offensive and highly disrespectful.

I must mention that this is not the first time I face this situation. But this is the first time I hear it coming from a purser in the briefing room. Be it a joke, it is a racist, discriminatory, inappropriate one. I consider it unacceptable moreover coming from a senior who, according to the staff number should be a leader by example, a reflection of experience, professionalism, cultural awareness and able to assess the emotional effect of a statement involving the nationality of the recipient.

Recruitment for xxx Airline takes place twice a year in three different cities across Romania through xxx. Lately, as I am approaching the end of my first contract I have observed the presence of Romanian colleagues once every two/three flights. I have flown having Romanian Pursers in charge of the flying team. I can only observe that Romanians have been appreciated and trusted with executive positions in xxx I can only be proud and look up to them.

Upon joining we were presented xxx as a proud cosmopolitan company and it is only normal to respect our colleagues acknowledging the fact that there are over 130 nationalities working together, that we have different backgrounds, history and culture.

We were told then as much as we are told today in the briefings before our flights that “What is normal for me may be offensive for a colleague of mine. Be aware of the cultural difference with regards to both customers and colleagues”.

When it comes to me as an individual and the other Romanian flight attendants working in xxx the association of our national identity with the above mentioned term is highly offensive as it only brings a negative connotation. (I can provide further explanations if needed)

On the other hand, supposing I were a gypsy with Romanian Passport: I find myself working here, after having presented my clear criminal record, being recruited out of 4000 applications, 1800 called for interview, one of the 19 applicants having passed the final interview, thus demonstrating I am fully qualified to work as a flight attendant. I have joined Emirates with a proud experience as a teacher and as a Police Inspector. The ethnic group I may or may not belong to (in this hypothetical exercise) has nothing to do with my training as a cabin crew and it is still a behavior unworthy of a leader in the context of a motivating meeting before a flight.

Furthermore, I have the approval of some Romanian crew of participating in my intercession. They have gone through the same experience and they are willing to confirm the facts if needed.

I neither request nor expect apologies as I am not counting on their genuineness. I do however hope it will be the last incident of its kind and I am waiting for an official resolution. “

It was never my intention to convince him otherwise. He may have the same perception today, or even worse. But he will also think twice about labelling people.