Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Prada or Polyester?

I picked up a novel, The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger. I don't recommend it. It's about a new college grad enduring her first job as assistant to a ridiculously demanding fashion editor. The editor piles her with ludicrous and poorly defined tasks and then becomes furious when they are not done to her exacting standards.

Many of the episodes in which the protagonist gets in trouble involve her being sent on an errand and not returning in the expected time, usually because she is talking on her cellphone, smoking a cigarette or otherwise dawdling. So this is supposed to be a story about the most unreasonable boss ever, but I can't sympathize with the girl, because she's wasting time. If you're supposed to have the engine started and be off blocks at 05:23, you're off blocks at 05:23. That means you get in as early as you have to in order to be fuelled, loaded, preflighted, deiced, started, briefed and trundling towards the appropriate taxiway at the exact prescribed time.

In another episode, the boss's commercial flight out of Miami is cancelled for weather, so she demands that her assistants get her a private charter. I laughed a bit reading that part, because weather is weather and if one pilot won't take off through Miami weather in a commercial airliner, there's not a good chance of another pilot planning into it in something smaller. But that wasn't the problem encountered by the assistants. In this fictional account of the aircraft charter industry, charter companies don't work nights. "I called every single private charter company in the state of Florida and, as you might imagine, they weren't answering their phones at midnight on a Saturday." Someone else told her she had, "a better chance of getting hit by lightning twenty times than I did of securing a plane and a pilot at that hour." Then I really started laughing. What does Lauren Weisberger think that charter companies do? They take people from Florida to New York on short notice in the middle of the night. That's what they're there for. Limosines of the sky.

This young author acts like she doesn't realize that people really do have jobs that require them to be on call twenty-four hours a day, to make all problems, even caused by the weather, their own responsibility, and to let their boyfriends know that if their pager rings, nookie is over. The protagonist of the novel gets free designer clothes as a job perk. I get a free polyester blend shirt and tie. But she also has to wear high heels. I've got her there. Sensible shoes all the way.

Perhaps I should be worried that the only favourable point of comparison between my working conditions and a fictional hell-job is footwear. But I'm not. I'm committed to my job, and I like it.


dibabear said...

Well that's one novel I can skip. Crichton's "Airframe" was another dud. I stopped reading him after that.

I'm reading "Shockwave" purported to be the true story of the events leading up to the Hiroshima a-bomb attack. It reminds me of a Crichton novel, written with a movie deal in mind. It sucks but I'll finish it...just because. It wouldn't be so bad if he'd have checked his facts a bit more thoroughly but I supect that wouldn't make a great movie.

Oshawapilot said...

Oh come on - No high heels?

Hard to get on the rudder pedals, I would assume?

(Tongue planted firmly in cheek) :-)

Aviatrix said...

I've piloted wearing high heels, cowboy boots, sandals, bare feet, and beaten up sneakers. Fancy new sneakers are the worst, because they are all squishy and it's hard to control rudder pressure.

But my current uniform calls for black lace-up shoes.