Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Food, Water, Medicine, Haircut

I'm up earlier the next day, still with sticky eyelashes. They're actually better today, but I decide not to rely on salt water home remedies where my eyes are concerned. I google up the local medical clinic. I try to call them on the hotel telephone, but every time I dial 9 to get an outside line, as indicated on the telephone itself, I end up talking to the front desk. She asks if I am paying for my room or my company. I say my company is, but it's a local call. She says she'll fix it, but evidently doesn't know the right code, because I still get her and not an outside line. I give up and walk up the road. The clinic is about a kilometre away, near the grocery store. Immediately inside there is a rack for shoes. It's a no shoes zone, a good idea considering that this place has the worst mud and dust of anywhere. I leave my boots in a shelf at the door and proceed barefoot to reception where I admit to not having an appointment.

"Can you wait?" she asks and I can, but I have to be at work at noon. It's quarter to eleven. She says that should be okay. I show her my health card and fill out a short form, then I read Canadian Geographic for a few minutes. I think it was about whales, or bears, or maybe pingoes. I had barely time to get interested in the article before I got in to see the doctor. I tell him my medical details and that I think I have an eye infection. I also tell him I am a pilot because the CARs require me to give that information to any treating physician. He examines my eye briefly, asks about pain, vision, the possibility of a foreign body in the eye, and then writes me a prescription for antibiotic ointment. It isn't even eleven o' clock yet.

I drop off my prescription at the grocery store down the block and buy some more snacks while waiting for it to be filled. It's $14.50 for the ointment, which I consider to be a fair price to keep teeny little nasty things from reproducing in my eyeballs.

I've got something else in my eyes these days: hair. I know that my hair could spread the infection from eye to eye. I'm not very good at cutting my own hair without making myself look like Spock, so I stop in at the town hair salon to see if I can get my hair cut there before work. She's booked solid until next week, and then it's only afternoon availability, when I'm likely to be working. Wow. Not to be catty, but I didn't think there were that many people in this town that bothered with haircuts. The sign on the door said to ask about special appointments at other times, or rates for bridal parties, so I'm about to ask her what her callout fee would be for an appointment before regular opening hours tomorrow morning, when she takes a phone call. Her 11 a.m. customer just cancelled, so she does me, and does a great job.

With all my errands done, I jump in the customer's truck and we go out to the the airport. It's hot out. I put the ground cooling fan on during taxi, then switch it off just before take-off. It's not needed after takeoff because the forward motion of the airplane provides the same advantage. That, and the fact that we'll climb into cooler air. Eventually. The heat produces very poor climb performance, and there is terrible visibility in smoke. It's the worst it's been yet. Everyone is pirepping it all day. It makes my job harder, especially with the non-functional HSI. It's almost like flying in IMC partial panel. Hills loom out of the gloom and I turn the Garmin into terrain mode.

I fly, eat some snacks, and drink some water. I always try to bring enough water that there will not be a need to ration it, but I've just got a one litre canteen. It may be time to start carrying a second bottle. Every once in a while I see a river or a lake through the smoke instead of just indistinct brownish ground and trees. The smoke is so bad along one VFR route that pilots are reporting turning back.

I come back to land. I land on a different runway, than I have been, wondering if it might be more efficient. It's bumpier than the main runway, but no more efficient. I put on the ground fan again. I look at my phone and I have a text from the maintenance guy. He's doing scheduled work tonight and has found another, larger hangar we can use. He asks me to please bring the airplane there. I pull back left engine to let out the mission specialist with the engine running, then taxi to hangar. Again we pull the cowls, and drain the oil. (We're doing shorter oil changes with the new engines to make sure everything is okay). I "help" with compression tests, which means mostly that I get in the way. He is happy that he has the right kind of compression tester, because this one allows him to correct for today's density altitude. He says otherwise he would have to use a default, higher pass rate. I make appreciative noises when all the cylinders test near perfect, so the density altitude correction was not a factor, anyway. With that done, he takes me back to hotel. He will work until 2 a.m. on scheduled maintenance tasks. I feel badly for him, but then I have worked from noon til almost nine. We all do our jobs.

I eat dinner in my room. I haven't managed to get all the grease out from under my fingernails, though. I should remember to put soap under my nails before working on the airplane next time. At least there's no temptation to put stained fingernails in my eyes.


coreydotcom said...

did you get green highlights?

Aviatrix said...

Just the cut. I'm a natural greenette, you know.