Who knew that a nice afternoon movie during a Fort Lauderdale layover would lead me to pontificate yet again about aviation?
The whole crew and I decided to take in an early after-lunch movie at the local cineplex. Since we had to take a vote on which movie to watch and since us two male pilots were outnumbered by our 10-member, female, flight-attendant crew, we ended up watching that movie about being a male maid of honor that starred Dr. McCreamy (or whatever) from Greys Anatomy on TV.
It was an OK movie, for a chick flick. The male lead managed to take off his shirt enough to impress the girls and the story, although being a total rip-off of My Best Friends Wedding, was adequate enough to hold my attention for a couple of cool-dark hours before the pool bar opened at the layover motel near the beach.
We had adjourned to said layover watering hole and six or so of us were huddled around a table between the bar and the pool, drinking through colored straws out of fake coconuts with real paper umbrellas. The sun was out, the music was mellow, and the tropical drinks were -- well -- tropical.
Part of the movie we had just watched (or endured, depending upon your gender) had to do with the McDreamy character's rules of love and life. Most of them had to do with keeping women at arms-length ... and after he found true love, of course, he gave all his silly rules up.
Jill, one of the flight attendants gracing our pool-bar hang-out, was also an aspiring pilot who wanted someday to fly for a living. She didn't exactly look bad in a bikini, ether, but I would never mention that I noticed this because that could be construed as being sexist and lead to some sort-of mandatory HR training on my days off.
She asked, "Do you have any rules you made up and live by that govern your flying life?"
My copilot Bart, who was on the other side of our bamboo, umbrella-shaded table, would have been the perfect candidate to answer such a complicated, albeit interesting, question from a newbie pilot, but he was totally engaged in getting to know Gretchen better.
Gretchen was a well-known home wrecker who wasn't aware, yet, that Bart was already on wife number three and had absolutely no money left. Talk about your perfect couple.
It was up to me to answer Jill's question. I had two major reasons for wanting to do so. First, as an aging captain, I had scads of wads of wisdom to drop on any pilot who asked and second, I think I mentioned the bikini. It was to my advantage to enjoy both the view and my chance to look smart.
Even though I was dressed in loose-fitting, chubby-guy shorts and a Hawaiian shirt, I metaphorically whipped out my flying rule book and began my lecture.
First, I told Jill, there is no particular order to these little nuggets of flying truth. Second, since I'm into my third umbrella drink, I may miss a few or even mess up a few.
"OK," she said. "I'm not getting any younger -- shoot when ready."
The first rule I'll share with you is one you have already witnessed. As captain, I feel it is my duty to always buy the first round at the bar. New-hire pilots who fly with me never buy a beer and I occasionally buy dinners, too.
"How about tonight?" she asked.
Looking at Jill I could not imagine not buying her and the whole crew dinner, but I kept that to myself and continued with my rules of flying.
Most of the CEO's rules are safety related:
Jill seemed to be getting a little bored with my preachy rules on how not to die when she flies. Bart and Gretchen had left the pool to get to know each other better and three other flight attendants were now bobbing in the pool like 20-something Jee Vice- and Oakley-wearing penguins. I changed tack with my lecture and went to more lifestyle-friendly rules of flying:
It was getting cooler out by the pool as the sun set behind our motel. Jill, alas, had put a windbreaker on and I knew we were about to part ways, perhaps forever. All old man lechery aside, I knew from talking to Jill that, even though she was a first-rate flight attendant now, she would make an even better pilot in the future. Because of this, I got serious and added a few more last-minute rules before we went to Hooters across the street for dinner.
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