Thursday, August 14, 2008

Other Duties As Assigned

Back, by popular demand

My job is not just to fly the airplane but to have the airplane ready to fly, and to be there for my client to fly the airplane when its needed. It's definitely part of my job to keep my cellphone on and charged and within earshot. I've never been given any kind of standard to keep, but if I'm not given a particular report time for the next morning, or if I'm released from the need to fly at that time, I can expect the client to call me sometime during the day and ask me to be ready to leave at a particular time that is typically between five and thirty minutes in the future.

So I have to be dressed, fed, know the weather and NOTAMs and be ready to go. One of the amusing parts, at least in the retelling, is when they know they are going to fly later, but are not going straight to the airport, so they just put the pilot in the truck. And I get carted around to hardware stores and electronics stores and whatever other sort of stores they need supplies from before the trip.

I'm not being fair here. I'm part of the expedition. I usually enjoy it, and they will divert to Radio Shack to get me more minutes for my cellphone or stop off somewhere to indulge my postcard collecting. Often their trip involves things that I need anyway: buckets and cleaning supplies and snack food, and usually I come with them because I like hanging out with them, but occasionally I don't have any reason to go into the store and just sit in the truck. Like a puppy. They even crack the windows open for me. I would wag my tail when they come back, but you know, I don't have a tail.

Recently I started getting a lot of calls from the manager of the people I was working directly with, calls of the form, "tell so-and-so to buy more hard drives" or "get so-and-so to come by my hotel room before supper." I'm happy to relay messages to people nearby, and I get a cellphone allowance to cover my costs, so that wasn't a problem, but I wondered out loud to my coworkers about why I was suddenly number one on his speed dial.

"It's because we never answer our phones," they told me cheerfully.

Just another use for a pilot, I guess. I'm happy to be reliable.

This post was briefly deleted because the first commenter misinterpreted it as my customers mistreating me. That is not the case and I did not mean to imply that at all. Thanks for reassuring me that most people read it the way I intended.


majroj said...

I think we are taken a little aback. Sorry you get this sort of treatment!

Aviatrix said...

What? It's not mistreatment. It's my job to be where and when the customer needs me during my duty day. It just so happens that fairly often they need me in the truck, so that when they have done their errands they have a pilot. They treat me well. They'll stop at places where I have errands too.

Aviatrix said...

I re-read the post trying to find the part that was misinterpreted as mistreatment, but I can't find it.

I would never want anyone to think I was saying anything bad about my customers, though, so I'm deleting the post.

Garret said...

I didn't read it as you being mistreated at all, but I guess that goes to show how hard it is to convey meaning with words and a little humo(u)r...even when you are IMO far better than most at it.

Anoynmous said...

I would never want anyone to think I was saying anything bad about my customers, though, so I'm deleting the post.

It always saddens me a little to see self-censorship based on others' misinterpretations. On the other hand, I continually admire your remarkable dedication to professionalism.

Anonymous said...

I read your original post and thought it was kind of cute, sort of like hanging out with Dad while he ran errands on Saturday morning. I liked the part about how they cracked the windows for you if you waited in the truck.

I also saw this story as evidence of a win-win professional relationship. You were diligently and without any fuss doing what you were expected to do, and in fact were doing so in such fine fashion you came to be considered an important part of the team, even to the extent that the boss came to rely on you for communications in lieu of his getting ahold of his "own" people.

Perhaps most importantly for your professional considerations, I can appreciate how you would not want to give the impression you felt you were in any way being mistreated by a current client. I didn't take it that way at all, and in fact got the impression you were somewhat amused by the way you've so naturally become part of their business processes.

By deleting the post you are making it very clear you intended no harm.

Sorry to be so wordy, two days in a row, but I'm guessing you were perhaps somewhat alarmed by any misinterpretation. I just wanted to throw in my two cents to say, "Don't worry".

Bob in Minnesota

Jimmy Mack said...

I was lucky enough to read the original post and understand it wholeheartadly. While I don't have customers that I tag along with, in a family owned air service such as mine "other duties as assigned" is the norm.

It is unfortunate that some people think "work" should only ever be a 9-5 type of lifestyle.

nec Timide said...

I knew I could agree with Bob on the important stuff. I think it was a great example of teamwork.

Anthony said...

Having read the post and envy rising from the fact that you were working with people you enjoyed the company of with Huge respect on both sides obvious to me, I am taken aback by the "Head up behind" first comment. I just wish I could relax around my customers as well as you seemingly can and vice-versa. Please keep up the wry observations and witty posts please.

Cliffy from AUS

Anonymous said...

I thought it was a great story, and did *not* interpret it as a "poor me" posting. Rather I saw it as another in your long line of "this is what this job is really like" stories, and appreciated it as such.

My vote? Restore it.


Anonymous said...

Bring back the posting... (Please.)

Roger said...

I also read the original post, (before there were any comments,) and thought I'd add my voice to those that didn't see anything wrong with it. I appreciated the humor, but also heard the respect of your colleagues there. It's probably a lot more fun to go riding around with them than sitting around waiting for them to get back, and I totally understand. I also thought "what a great working relationship with the customer - I wish I were so lucky!"

Perhaps the thoughts of mistreatment came from the presumption that you had no choice in the matter. (I'm sure that wasn't the case, but I could perhaps see that one might reach that conclusion.)

I'm sorry that you felt the need to self-censor here, but I understand your reasons and need to do so.

jk said...

I saw the story as a dedication to your job and professionalism.

However, I do suggest leaving the phone unanswered at least occasionally, and turning it off all together during rest so you can have sufficient time to your own thoughts; obviously I cannot speak for you but I find that I must separate myself from my job mentally to a degree to stay healthy.

amulbunny said...

You can always turn the phone on vibrate and bury it in your bag....that way you can say, oh I didn't hear it. I didn't think the post was demeaning or of mistreatment. I thought it was one where you had the opportunity to interact with your co-workers *who were kind enough to crack the windows-LOL* and that your boss trusted you to follow through and deliver messages. Some people have no sense of humor.
It was a great post.

steve said...

I, Too, read the original post :-)
As always, it was entertaining and erudite.
I think you should reconsider allowing ONE ill-conceived comment to censor YOUR Blog.
As a Luddite, myself, I cracked up at the co-workers' explanation for you being the "comms" interface with the crew.

The world needs your window on your job......pretty please??

Aviatrix said...

Sigh. You guys are sure good at begging.

And yes, my cellphone is turned off when I am on mandated rest, but otherwise I'm on call, so it has to be on.

Anonymous said...

Yaaaay, TEAM!

Gimme an A!
Gimme a V!
Gimme an I!


Bob in Minnesota

dpierce said...

Thanks for bringing it back. Good read!