To quote the great Yogi Berra, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

Gail Caiazzo had always wondered what it would be like to work as a flight attendant – so she became one in her 50s. Photo courtesy of Gail Caiazzo

Looking back at my life is always an exercise in wondering. Many of the forks in the road happened during my childhood. Obviously, I had no control over those situations, so I never waste a great deal of mental energy thinking about that.

The forks in the road during adulthood are the ones remembered with much curiosity. How different would the years have been had I turned right instead of left?

Perhaps that left-hand turn was a mistake?

Sometimes that left-hand turn was, hands down, the correct choice. Other times, the right-hand turn was the path that should have been taken.

As a young woman I planned to become a stewardess (better known today as a flight attendant). It appeared to be a great career choice in the ’60s. College was financially out of the question. Or was it?  Being an excellent student (sorry, being humble is not one of my strong suits) and from a family of eight children, was financial aid there for the asking?


First huge fork in the road: College would have been the way to go.

The plan upon graduating from high school was to work a part-time job over the summer before heading to Boston. After arriving in Boston and getting an apartment, then I’d apply for the position with one of the major airlines.

So many forks in the road happened that summer. I broke up with my high school sweetheart, moved out of my mother’s house and landed a full-time job as a switchboard operator at Webber Hospital.

That job introduced me to people who encouraged me to apply to the phone company. It was a lot less glamorous (or so I thought at the time) than flying the friendly skies. Everyone agreed: The phone company is the best choice for Gail. Ma Bell was a wonderful experience that provided me with lifelong friends. First and foremost, my dear, funny, best friend forever, Pam.

Time marched on to include being blessed with children. Gigantic forks in the road. The best left-hand turns ever.

Life continued to happen. Still, there was always that little nagging wonder of what becoming a flight attendant would have been like.

So, I did it at age 50. My 50s went by like a blur. Every day of being “authorized personnel” at airports was an adventure. The people I worked with are the salt of the earth. I felt so much gratitude to be afforded the opportunity to fulfill a youthful dream. I was also exhausted most of the time. Please, be respectful of and grateful to all flight attendants. The training required to be able to save your life is intense.

Pam once told me, “You are mindlessly optimistic!” which is completely true. Looking at life with a positive attitude has helped me navigate some extremely difficult times. Additionally, I can look back on my life able to accept the choices made along the way.

Treasured memories far outweigh any mistakes.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: