Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The days of flying saucers

I joined the airlines in the 1960s and to be a cabin crew then was more glamorous than it is today. I remember clearly that as a cc we started off with a basic salary of S$255 and together with the meal/nightstop/laundry/jet allowances, we could easily get an average salary of $700 each month.
Hey $700 may not look very much nowadays but back then it was like $7,000 of today's value. Simply put,the pay of a cc back in the 1960s is double that of today.
A bowl of noodles costs from 20 cts to 30 cts. Bus fare started from 5 cts and the highest fare was 20 cts. We had trams plying on the roads and pirate taxis too. Legalised taxis had no meters and one had to agree on a fare before starting the journey.
A cosy single storey semi-detached house of 2,000 sq. ft.(built-in area) with a land area of another 2,000 sq ft in an average district like Katong(East Coast)cost $100k. Today, the same house would cost around $2 million.
Cabin crew in my days drove around in Jaguars,Mercerises, BMWs and Sports cars of Italian and British made. Today, cc travel by MRT and other means of public transport.
The passengers' profile were different too. Men travelled in suits,jackets and ties.Ladies boarded the flights with vanity cases filled with their make-ups paraphernalia and were properly dressed. Nowadays? They come in droves dressed in shorts,tattered and torn jeans,slippers,dirty and unshavened and some even pissed with too much alcohol.
Coming back to my cc days.....we were trained to be tough,humble, unquestioningly loyal,professional,efficient and what have you.
We as juniors were not allowed to question our seniors. We had to obey whatever our senior told us to do.
The inefficient crew who were slow and less energetic in providing service on the flight would get plates thrown at them,hence the term "flying saucers".
Newbie stewardesses were known to have been slapped or got their ears pinched by their seniors counterparts for not wearing sufficeint make-up or being ill disciplined.
Today,the slightest heightened of voice volume by senior crew towards the junior would result in getting a warning from the office or worst still a demotion in rank. No senior dares to scold,let alone touch the stewardesses.
Well can't blame anybody, can we? Afterall,Singapore has advanced from a third world country in the 60s to a more sophisticated nation now.
We can go on and on but changes are everywhere. The army,police,civil service etc etc have gone through tremendous transformation over the last 40 years or so.
Overall, the changes are for the betterment of our society and I am glad that our national airlines is still as good as its predeccesor MSA or even better.

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