When your old life catches up with your new life

edita_schindlerova

Edita Schindlerova, 22, in Ryanair uniform (left) and in what one might charitably call an undress uniform (right).

Ryanair is an Irish low-cost airline headquartered in Dublin, with Dublin Airport (EIDW) and London Stanstead Airport (EGSS) being its major hubs.  Every year the company recruits a dozen of its good-looking cabin attendants to pose in skimpy outfits for a calendar whose proceeds are donated to charity.

This year, an eagle-eyed tabloid reporter realised that one of Ryanair’s flight attendants, Ms. Edita Schindlerova, also had a second career in the adult entertainment industry.  To their credit, Ryanair’s spokesmen waved away the media’s salivating prurience by stating “What people do before or after they work for us is their business.”

What a rare and refreshing display of sanity from an employer.

Edita in the Ryanair 2009 calendar (February)

Ms. Schindlerova in the Ryanair 2009 calendar.

For those of us who have not had to worry too hard about where the next paycheque is coming from (and I count myself in that number), it can be all too easy to dismiss folks who take a harder, grittier road as moral and intellectual midgets. Women like Ms. Schindlerova, Dr. Brooke Magnanti (a.k.a Belle de Jour) and Ms. Louisa C. Tuck (a.k.a Crystal Gunns) attract much attention and opprobrium; much of it, I think, patently misguided.

We have many examples of how society treats people once their seedier pasts become known.  Ms. Tuck’s employer (the Vineland, N.J. school district) was pressured to fire her; she eventually resigned.  In another famous instance, a Florida town manager got the axe because his wife was a porn star.  The exception of course is Dr. Magnanti, who wrote a well-read blog, then a book which in turn was optioned for a successful television series.  But not every journey into a career catering to men’s fantasies is so lucrative, rewarding and favourably regarded.

Not having lived each circumstance in intimate detail, we cannot always know what factors drive some people to make the choices they have.  I have, however, known some people who have had to take on careers that I would consider both morally and objectively horrifying, and yet those people have survived, flourished, found stable relationships and started families in spite of those potentially soul-deadening experiences.  I do not think any less of them for it; my attitude is simply “There but for the grace of God go I.”  For I do not harbour flattering illusions about what any human being might be motivated to do, given the right circumstance.

And I must applaud Ryanair—whatever their other failings as a commercial carrier—for acting humanely and sensibly.  In this generation, where adults and kids routinely share too much of their private lives—on television, Facebook, blogs and any other outlet within reach—our notions of propriety are surely going to be stretched in uncomfortable ways.

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