Wearing a uniform on the way to or from work sometimes generates memorable encounters. And Pristina is an ideal destination for the same.
Sometimes I am in uniform when I travel to and from the airport. For example, when having the extra time at home is more important than the anonymity of travelling in civilian clothes, or when I am travelling from Bern rather than from my parents’ place, or have to get home as fast as possible in order to keep an appointment. But travelling in uniform is a lot less relaxing than doing so in civilian clothes. Other rail passengers often seem to feel that I should know everything and be ready to help everyone. That after a 12-hour flight I might not be in the mood for small talk is not always met with understanding.
But wearing my uniform also generates some memorable encounters. Such as on the morning of Christmas Day.
If I have the time I like to get a coffee-to-go somewhere in the rail station. My order often meets with a broad smile and the question: “Pristina?” Which is what happened on Christmas Day. Not many Swiss work at station shops on Sundays and official holidays. And the Swiss probably don’t fly with our airline as often as people who have family members in the Balkans, a region SWISS serves in cooperation with Edelweiss, Air Pristina and Air Kosovo to Pristina and Skopje. Flight attendants know that these flights are special. On no other flights are the passengers so grateful and misunderstandings so amusing. While most of the younger travellers are fluent in Swiss-German, there are many older passengers who cannot speak or understand German or English. So it goes without saying that the person in the neighbouring seat acts as interpreter. On these flights we are never treated with disrespect. And the compliments we receive when the flight is over are always sincere.
The number of children on board these flights is legendary, too. A dozen safety belts for children are always loaded on short-haul flights but usually an additional 10 to 20 belts are required for the flights to Pristina. It appears to be standard procedure that the children on these flights are no longer infants either.
On one flight someone called out to me: “Hey, I recognise you,” which perplexed me somewhat, not only because I was addressed in the familiar “du” form, which is normal on these flights. I hadn’t been assigned to a Pristina rotation for quite some time, which meant it was unlikely that I had been on the outbound flight with the passenger. He explained to me to that he was in the building trade and had often seen me because he flew on this route regularly. An amusing conversation ensued.
All of this went through my mind on this Christmas morning while I was waiting or my coffee. Almost wistfully I replied to the sales clerk: “No, Delhi” while secretly looking forward to my next Balkan excursion.
Best regards, Kristina