The pilot quest for food never stops. When you're a student or beginning commercial pilot you're searching for food you can afford. (I know someone who did his cross-country time-building to airports selected specifically because they were across the street from McDonald's restaurants. He was living off the the one-dollar burger deal. And yes he did look about as healthy as Morgan Spurlock in Super Size Me). At other points in your career the problem is availability of food, and I use that term loosely, thinking of the row of empty vending machines in one Nunavut airport, or time between duties to get the food. This week for me it's getting to the food.
I'm in a perfectly nice hotel in a fairly civilized part of the country, in a hotel that is down the highway from the town. I'm expecting to be called to fly about four, so I'll aim to finish my lunch around three so that I have the calories to sustain me until midnight. The client calls and wants to meet at three-thirty. No problem. I have an hour and a quarter to eat and get back to the lobby with my flight bag.
The first restaurant I try is the one attached to the hotel. Although the changeable letters on the hotel marquee advertise that it opens at 6:30 am, there is a piece of paper on the door advising me that it will open "soon" and "under new management." I go back to my room to ask Google for plan B. It finds me a chain restaurant just under a kilometre away. Sweet! I thought it was just residential around here. That should take me six minutes to walk there, giving me forty-five minutes to order and eat a meal, with time to get back, brush my teeth and be ready to go. I look at the directions. Cross the highway, go two blocks west, turn right and it's about three blocks down on the right. I say "about" because the only straight street in town is the highway. Everything else is little windy roads with cul-de-sacs.
I follow the directions, getting onto the correct street as planned. After about three blocks it still looks very residential, but the street curves away and there could be a plaza just around the curve. After about four blocks I ask someone on a porch. He tells me I'm about as far away from any restaurants as I could get. He gives me some directions, which I start to follow, but as I get further from the hotel I continue doing point of no return math, and stop at the point where I would have seven minutes to get food before having to start the return journey. Fast food service is not a forte in this province. Ain't going to happen.
Hurrying back to the hotel, I must have passed a wasp that didn't like the way I was cursing Google Maps and the non-linear nature of this town, because all of a sudden OW! Something bit me in the uh ... rear upper thigh. Right through my slacks. Son of a flaming firetruck. I slap at it and yeah I'm shaking a large insect like thing off my hand. Ow ow ow.
I get back to the hotel with fifteen minutes to spare and ask the client "Could we please go early and swing by somewhere I can get something to eat"? The first drive-through in sight is a KFC, and I'm in an appropriate stage of the KFC cycle to have some. (I tried to find something to link to describing the cycle of "eat KFC, remember that KFC really isn't all that great, swear not to eat it again, five months passes, eat KFC again" but all I could find was gruesome articles on how they raise their chickens. I'm sorry, chickens. It was for flight safety. I was really hungry.) I order three pieces of chicken, just the chicken, because their fries are mushy and their cole slaw is gooey. The order is relayed across the truck, through the speaker, but they get it right.
On the way to the airport I eat my chicken, taking care not to get grease and bits of chicken skin all over the truck, and not too much on me, either. As we pull into the airport parking lot the client says, "I just have to say, I'm impressed."
I'm thinking back to our last flight. It went well, I guess, but nothing to write home about. What's he impressed about? He continues, "You ate three pieces of chicken in seven kilometres." In fact it left such a lasting impression that he mentioned it later to his boss in front of me. Hey, you never know what will impress the client. I throw out the empty box with the bones so as not to stink up his car with KFC smell.
The flight went as planned and I could feel my tummy being happy because it was full of warm chicken. It may have been full of horrible bad for me ingredients, and clearly it didn't do the chicken any good, but it was better than flying hungry. And that insect bite itches.