Friday, January 08, 2010

Back to Work

Even a pilot can only do so much sitting around and reading funny websites before she has to go back to work. I have checklists for packing to make sure I don't get to the job and not have a water bottle, warm socks or my camera battery charger. The list takes into account that during any given rotation I might be going to the Yukon or to Florida, to a big city or to a camp in the middle of nowhere. I have to be ready to work with appropriate clothing, supplies, entertainment and the like. I think I have the suitcase of Dorian Gray: I weigh the same as I did in high school, but my suitcase seems to get heavier every year. It's because every rotation in the field I discover one more gadget I can't live without, or decide that I should have eleven changes of socks instead of ten, so as to go one more day without doing laundry. Now before going to the airport I weigh the suitcase, and evict some of the toys that have snuck in. It helps that I now have the company manuals on the hard drive.

I would like to pre-pack my flight bag, that is the bag that will be in the cockpit with me when I am the pilot, and just have it inside the big suitcase ready to go, but I don't want to check my electronics, so they all go in my carry-on with my laptop. Sometimes when the big suitcase weighs in over the fifty pound limit I just open it up and pull out the flight bag to carry as my "personal item" (it's a leather messenger bag). So I also have to pack the forbidden carry-on items outside the flight bag. So many things that I want in the cockpit are forbidden in the cabin.

Recently I checked in and the bag went on the scale at something like 51.2 lbs. "Do you want me to take out one point two pounds?" I asked immediately.

"Normally I would make you do it, but because you were so willing to, it's okay," she said. Amusingly, nearby check-in agents chimed in to back her up.

"She does! You're so lucky!" It must be a routine to make me feel well-treated. I think I already told that story. Whether you work in an office or in the sky, your life is a routine, the routine is just a different shape and size.

The flight is quite turbulent, but nothing to be alarmed about so long as you and everyone around you has their seatbelts securely fastened. Not too long ago several passengers were injured in turbulence because while they took the suggestion that their seatbelts be fastened while they were seated, they buckled them so loosely around their laps that the buckle part was able to fly up and catch on the arm of the seat, undoing the belt in turbulence. For best results, do up your seatbelt snugly under normal circumstances and when the turbulence starts or the announcement is made, cinch it tight. It should be somewhat less uncomfortable than breaking your neck on the ceiling. We arrive, and so has my baggage, so I proceed to step two.

This month's work site is not served by commercial carriers, so once again I rent a car to travel to the site from the airport. The car is less new than the typical rental car. Maybe I shouldn't have told the agent I wanted it for a crew change. She knows that probably means hard driving on rough roads. There's a bit of a vibration in the steering column, but it goes in a straight line. I drive into town to pick up my coworker. (He's here already because he came out early to visit friends).

We go to a Tim Horton's to supply for the journey. He says he ate recently and is saving his snacks for later, so offers to drive. I warn him about the steering and accept. As I write this up, I realize that our decision not to return the car for a better one was a continuing theme for the month. I'll have to watch for that in out future CRM together.

The local tourist information place was closed for the winter or the weekend or something, but we had Google map printouts and road signs to guide us, and decided that would be enough. It's not like there will be so much traffic and so many interchanges that we won't have opportunity to plot our route safely. It's not snowing and there is no snow on the roads yet, either. After forty-five minutes or so, my co-worker hands me his watch, trying to escape the flagellation from the vibration. I didn't ask him whether he would have preferred me to be late than suffer this car. We'll be there soon.

And despite the amount that all the detail in this account resembled foreshadowing, we were there in less time than we expected, and with no incident. Except after we unloaded, I went out to the car to get my sunglasses and park the car, but then forgot to get my sunglasses and had to go out to the car again, much to the amusement of the others. The crew we were replacing met us at the hotel lobby and it was a joyous reunion. We all went out for supper and debriefing. In a different car.


Traveller said...

I hear you the cinch it down. I leave my belt fairly loose but connected most of the time, but any indication of turbulence and I will take the slack out. When the bumps get significant, I secure my gear and myself as much as I can. Then I enjoy the ride.

Anonymous said...

I know exactly what you mean about flight bags and overnight bags getting heavier. It is insidious! A little item here and another one next month and before you know it, back to 80 pounds.

Dagny said...

oh yes, I remember when I commuted to yqt from here. Packing, how I loathe thee.

Have fun working!!!!! fly safe. :D