Monday, September 28, 2009

Breathing Deep

We were a somber group. Homesick, all. You never get used to it. Sunday mornings are not supposed to be like this―early, dark, foggy and far from home.

The van driver loaded our bags―four crews of pilots, eight of us heading to the airport, nobody saying much. Just civil utterings.

"G' morning"

A nod.

"How's it goin'?"

"Livin' the dream, man. Just livin' the dream." Yawn. A cynical chuckle. 

A cuss. A heavy sigh.

I looked at the starless sky and remembered the line from Days of Future Passed: "Breath deep, the gathering gloom."

This was not the way the "dream" is supposed to be. Sunday mornings are for sleeping-in, for coffee and breakfasts, for church and family, and walking dogs. Sunday is supposed to be a day for rest and regeneration. And yet there I was, dragging bags and breathing the gloom. I long to live a normal life.

How much more of this will I choose to endure? I'm supposed to be retired by now. Defunct pension plans and grizzer bear markets hold me hostage here. But a hostage to what? To fortune? A different kind of fortune, Gann would say. (Of course, you've read A Hostage to Fortune, right?)

Yeah, mornings like that compel me to consider exit options. Pilots on my company seniority list junior to me would applaud that idea.

We got to gate 77 and found it full of droopy-eyed vacationers in Hawaiian garb awaiting the eastbound flight, their second leg to home, already dreading going back to work Monday. You could see it in their faces. Fifty-one weeks of hell pays for a week in Paradise. Now back to the hell. If that’s normal I don’t won’t that life either.

Mike and I woke up the slumbering Pratts and beat all the others to runway 25R. (Why are so many of my first officers named Mike? I'm not making this up.)

We were the first heavy jet out of LAX that gloomy Sabbath, maybe the first of any jet. We burst through the top of the fog in mere seconds, and our eyes breakfasted on a horizon ablaze in stunning crimson and orange. The gloom was banished. Breath deep, now, the rising sun. My spirits lifted and I ceased thinking about retirement, for the time being.

It was a good sail over the Rockies, which were encrusted with carpets of shimmering yellow Aspens. I imagined Del Gue down there yelling, "...and there ain't no churches, ceptin' this right here!"

Toward the end of the flight the head flight attendant came up and showed me an image he had just taken with his Blackberry. It was a dead fly in a passenger's omelet. I sent an ACARS request (That’s like an e-mail) to our destination station: "Please have Customer Service meet passenger in 4F to offer condolences for the dead fly he found in his omelet."

Their response: "Would you like paramedics to meet flight to resuscitate fly?"

I suppose I'll endure "the dream" a bit longer.

What is that glow on top of the fog layer?

Rolling out over foggy Los Angeles to meet the dawn
Leveling off at FL 370 and getting
ready to get the Big Eye in the eye

Two weeks ago, out Livin' the Dream with some buddies:

The humidity is causing the prop streamers
I'm the one vertically confused 

Even our props are in formation. Are we good, or what?


Wayne Conrad said...

Excellent post. I haven't read Hostage to Fortune. Buying it now, and thanks.

scott said...

I hate that I missed the fly-in. I am in in serious need of a Yak ride. It's been a long time.

It really is sad when you think about it. Day in and day out we trade our time for dollars. Who says slavery has been abolished? So many people are slaves to a job they hate just so they can afford a nice home for the family, drive nice cars, take nice vacations, and send their kids to nice schools. If only schools and parents encouraged their kids to not worry about getting a good job or having a career and instead led them down a path to finding something to be passionate about. You show me a man who loves what he does and I'll show you a free man.

As always a good read.

Squatch said...

That sure was some fun flying this weekend. You've got you and me reversed in the diamond picture though. Your lead and I'm three. I love the pic of us tangled in extended trail! Wicked.