Monday, July 12, 2010

Putting the Fun Back In

An aviator I met many years ago had a retirement party not too long ago. I have attended a number of formal ceremonies marking the end of various pilots' careers, but this one is special. I'll tell you why in a bit.

I don't know the pilot especially well. I remember that before I met him I happened to be following his car on the highway and noticed one brake light wasn't working. We rarely do a walkaround on the car while someone is in the driver's seat activating all the lights, so it's the sort of thing that gets missed. I check for two headlights reflected back at me from the back of the car in front of me at stoplights at night, but you don't often get a chance to check your brake lights. I guess backing into a parking spot would do it if there is a reflective window behind it. When I saw the same car parked at the airport, I went into the business it was parked in front of and told him. So I guess that's how we met. He owned the business.

We worked together indirectly for a while, but what I'll remember him for most is that one day, after I got a better job, he said casually that he was glad to hear that, because I was too valuable to be wasted here. It came at just the right moment for me. It was probably just a casual congratulations to him, but it did it for me.

That's not the reason I flew out there to see him though. It's because of all the times I've been invited to a gathering celebrating the life of an aviator, this will be the first one at which I will be able to shake the pilot's hand. All the others were funerals.

It was worth it. I got a ride right from the airport to the party and he looked so well, all the stress gone and looking forward to flying for fun during his retirement.


Marc C. said...

I use the chrome grill on the vehicles behind me to check my brakelights at stoplights. At night on a dark highway you can see the added red light on either side in the side mirrors too.

Unknown said...

So pleased to hear you made the party.

It's often the case that revisiting old friends/aquaintances are pushed aside.....the next you know, they're dead!...
I have regretted this omission on more than one occasion and vowed to do better.

backing close to a light coloured wall at night, you can usually observe the rear and brake-lights loom through that oft-neglected piece of equipment, the rear-view mirror!

grant said...

@steve - great idea. I tried it last night and discovered my rear view mirror was missing! As soon as the new one is installed I can check out my tail lights.