Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Seagull Versus Eagle

Most people spent their whole lives waiting for an opportunity that was good enough, and then they died. While seizing opportunities would mean that all sorts of things went wrong, it wasn't nearly as bad as being a hopeless lump.

The morning dawns with miserable drizzle and low ceilings, too low for training. It's forecast to clear up later, so we'll wait on it. Boss picks me up and then the chief pilot comes into the office and we're introduced. He's francophone so I speak a few sentences in French because again I think it's polite. It's like you go to the boss's office rather than asking him to come to yours. It shows my willingness to do things his way, and also demonstrates what he's working with in terms of my ability in French. The company operates in English, I checked that out before I came, and our conversation switches quickly back into English. We go over the exams, he answers some more of my questions, and then we all go for lunch. The weather may be good enough to fly after we get back.

We've all travelled enough that no one is left out as our stories and hangar flying ranges all over the world. In fact the chief pilot is from a French-speaking European company, not from Québec at all, and it turns out that most of the pilots are. I knew I was an outsider in Québec for being an anglophone, but once you speak French you're still an outsider because you're not fluent, and then it's because you're not a native speaker, and then apparently it's because you're from France or Luxembourg or Belgium instead of from Québec. My boss has a stable of pilots who have had trouble getting jobs elsewhere in the province because despite their fluent French, they are not "one of them." It's pur laine or nothing, apparently. When does cultural and linguistic pride veer into insularity or racism? I think true pride in ones culture and nation includes enough confidence in its strength to welcome newcomers and teach them to embrace what you do, and make them one of you, rather than holding them forever at bay, one of "them" living among you. I notice myself that I may have a slight "them" feeling about someone whose accent doesn't match that of some region of my own country, but when they care about the same issues I do, not necessarily even supporting the same side, just understanding them in a Canadian context, that they become Canadian to me.

The sky opens up blue, but the wind is picking up and they nix the training plans again for today. I think it's odd at first, who doesn't fly in wind, but then the wind becomes quite extreme. I worry about a Tim Horton's sign coming down on me in the parking lot. So instead we massage my resume into the format in which he presents pilot résumés on proposals. My experience is now a resource for him to use. And yes, this is not all an elaborate ruse. He does want to contract my services, probably starting a month and a half out. He's confident that I'll get along well with clients, not get into fistfights with my coworkers and have the maturity to make good decisions. And he figures I can probably fly an airplane, too.

We quit for the day. There may be time before my flight home tomorrow for a flight, but I really have to give a decision to the other potential employer. I've already held them off and I know their timeline is tighter than here. I'm going to call that job "Eagle" and the Québec-based one "Seagull" in recognition of the fact that the real life company names are similar, and there are certain aspects of the jobs that match up. I like both eagles and seagulls; neither term is intended to disparage or praise the company I've attached it to. I just need to stop saying "this one" or "the other one."

It's a difficult decision. I should be savouring this more. After all both potential employers have called me "perfect" to my face. I'm in demand. But that's stressful. I make myself a spreadsheet comparing schedule, aircraft, pay, travel opportunities, coworkers, organization, stability, gut feelings, and everything else I can think of. It gets really elaborate with me rating each company on each aspect, and then going through and rating how important each aspect is to me, to create a multiplier. I know without doing the math that Eagle is the sensible job that gives me almost everything I could ask for at this level of the industry and Seagull is the slightly crazy one that could be terrifying or miserable. I can't believe I'm being such a hopeless lump. I haven't quite finished the elaborate spreadsheet but I find I've made up my mind.

I e-mail Eagle with thanks for their patience, to let them know that I will be taking the offer from Seagull, but that as they won't be needing me for a few weeks that if there is anything I can do for them in the meantime, I'd be happy to help. Yeah, that's right. Who says I have to choose just one company?

The lead quote is, rather embarrassingly, from Harry Potter fan fiction, but I'll defend myself with words from aviation philosopher Richard Bach's Illusions

"You are quoting Snoopy the Dog, I believe?

I quote the truth wherever I find it.


Jez said...

Congratulations on making a decision and hope it works out well. Looking forward to some great seagull stories :-)

A Squared said...

The thing is, that was actually Linus who said that. When I first read Illusions, I was a big peanuts fan and recognized the strip it came from.

Sarah said...

Congratulations! Sounds like an adventurous perch for Aviatrix! I am not surprised.

Paul said...

Way to go.

More great stories for the blog!

Great job!


Edu said...

It's hard to let down anyone, but as Eagle is presumably a good company, now some other pilot will get the job they were looking for.

There is some interesting research on neuroscience that we make decision much earlier than when we are aware of making them. Doing a spreadsheet is good way of digging out that information and then you can actually notice things that matter. For pure gut feeling just flipping a coin may be good enough; you instantly know if you rather would have it had land the other way. :-)

Congratulations on your new job!

Aviatrix said...

Yeah, I tried the coin flipping to see what I want trick. Flipped a lot of coins.

The best part was when I told an old friend who has known me since forever, back when I would have thought I was a completely different person, and whom I hadn't seen for many years of the two options, and he immediately knew which one I had me chosen. Made me feel good twice: once that it didn't seem to be a stupid decision to him and two that I haven't strayed too far from myself.

skitten said...

Yeah, at a certain point when you've done the regular career building etc stuff you need to go for the job that just sounds like it's going to be fun ;)

Chris said...

Good to see things are working out for you. Gratz!

Cedarglen said...

A bold choice to be sure. After reading your blog for a while, why am I not surprised? And of course you and you alone understand all of the reasons. I'm hearing some challenges and some potential for great fun with Seagull and I *sincerely* hope that it is a good fit for you. The single question mark is the comment that Seagull does not need you 'for a few weeks.' That part does not compute, but there are obviously details that you cannot reveal. Fly, Bird Woman, FLY!! -C.

Unknown said...

Very happy to read the good news! Job hunting, well there are adjectives to aptly describe job hunting, but I'll remain polite :-) Glad that's over for you.

From yesterday, ya, Quebeckers does look totally wrong but I'm at a loss for an English translation of Quebecois... Wikipedia offers "Quebecer..." doesn't look right either. I'll just continue using Québécois I guess!

Also glad to hear you chose what, at face value, seems to maybe be the road less traveled. I've had some wonderful experiences on roads less traveled!!


coreydotcom said...

Bienvenue dans notre beau petit coin de pays!

pat said...

I did the exact same kind of spreadsheet to chose my current job!
And I'm happy with it.

I wish you the best for your new job.