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.