By Jamie Shafer
Ecclesiastes 3 tells us there is a season for everything. We know we can count on one thing—change. Our world is filled with rapid changes each new day. Sometimes things shift so quickly that we feel we can barely keep up. Relationships change, jobs change, technology changes. By the time we’re comfortable with our new phone, it’s almost obsolete. When we see an example of longevity, whether in nature, a relationship, or a career, it can stop us in our tracks as we admire its rare beauty.
Amidst ongoing change in his industry, Steve Trolier remained faithfully committed to his role as a flight attendant with United Airlines for 29 years. When asked what drew him to a role in aviation, he replied, “I had other jobs before that, but I was always fascinated by air travel. I think it goes back to the old standard line, ‘I love people and I love to fly.’” When he received the notice that United Airlines was hiring in his area, he knew God’s timing was perfect.
Aftermath of 9/11
Based out of the Washington, D.C. area, Steve said that the biggest changes he experienced in his career occurred during the aftermath of 9/11. “We were always customer service driven, but afterward we all became security people. It wasn’t what we were hired to do, but that’s what it became.” Their new training involved learning how to handle terrorists and be ever vigilant for any signs of danger onboard.
The attacks that occurred on 9/11 changed so many things in the United States—and air travel was at the forefront of those changes. Steve noted that people tried to avoid flying for a time, and when they finally did resume flying, it was a different experience for both the passengers and the crew.
“There was always a certain level of discomfort with the new security measures. By the time passengers reached the plane, their demeanor was different. They had been through a lot already—getting up earlier and standing in long security lines.”
In the midst of it all, Steve’s hope was that Christ’s love would be displayed through him. “Sometimes people’s fuses were showing. I wanted to create an atmosphere of hospitality and hoped Christ would show through.” He loved serving people and especially loved to see ministry groups traveling together. Sometimes they ministered to him as much as he was hoping to minister to them. It was all about offering extra kindness in the small moments, especially to frazzled travelers, senior adults who needed a little extra help, or minors who were traveling alone.
“This is your mission field. You don’t always feel like you’re able to share much as you would like, but God gives you little opportunities.” Steve was surprised to find that there were many believers throughout the aviation industry. In fact, early in his career he connected with the Fellowship of Christian Airline Personnel (FCAP), an organization established to reach, support, and encourage employees in the airline industry around the world.
One Scripture the FCAP shared has stuck with him over the years. “If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast” (Psalm 139:9, 10).
Committed to Serve
God has also blessed Steve with the opportunity to volunteer faithfully for decades at his church, the Church of Christ of Manor Woods in Rockville, Maryland. When Steve began his career as a flight attendant, he made a promise to God. He committed to keep the Sabbath holy and to stay involved in his church. Almost as if God had paved the way, he was one of the few flight attendants who usually had Sundays off, a rare gift in the industry.
For 25 years Steve has served as a Sunday school teacher—many of those years he’s served first grade children. “Teaching cements in me what I learned at an early age. My mother was a godly woman. I’m passing on what I received; passing along a generational blessing. It keeps me in contact with another generation of people I wouldn’t normally know. The kids teach me things,” he said.
Steve recently retired from his role at United Airlines. As he reflects, he says he is grateful to God for the many years of safe flying through weather-related and other challenges. He appreciates the opportunities he has had to share and reflect the values of his faith. His regular involvement at church continues, and he stays pleasantly busy. With a laugh, he shares that he doesn’t miss getting up at 2:45 a.m. to make those early morning trips to the airport.
Jamie Shafer is a communications strategist for Fishhook Communications in Indianapolis, Indiana. She and her husband, Eric, have two children.