Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Third's Time's a Charm, Part 3

Continued from last post (click here to read it). As Garth dressed for his big interview, he thought about his simulator check. It had been a good ride—much improved from his first attempt weeks ago—but he had a funny feeling about what happened at the end of the ride. The evaluator had suddenly turned antagonistic over a seemingly trivial matter that had nothing to do with his (Garth’s) flying skills. Yet the evaluator told him he had not only passed the actual check but excelled. 

Garth was troubled but he put the incident behind him and reported to the interview office. After the long painful gauntlet he had run to get to this culminating point, he felt he the goal was in reach. He knew he had good people skills. The interview should be a cinch.

He sat before a uniformed captain and a woman executive who worked in the “New Hire” department. Stacks of paperwork sat in front of them—the annals of his entire life reduced to a simple stack of paper, he reckoned. They opened the interview with the usual pleasantries and asked the questions he expected: Why did he want to fly for their company? What unique factors made him more suited for the job than the others? And how he had resolved conflicts in his past?

At length the captain pulled a piece of paper from the stack and looked at it for too long a while, then looked sternly at Garth. “We have a comment from your simulator evaluator that, although your performance was quite good, you were…” He paused, as if not wanting to say the word. “…temperamental. He wrote here that you got short with him at one point and tried to intimidate him. Can you explain that?”

The loquacious Garth was taken aback. He couldn’t believe this trap had been set for him and he had fallen into it. Seconds ticked by that seemed like eternity while he tried to evaluate that brief verbal exchange with the evaluator in the Frasca. He didn’t feel he had over-reacted. Had the evaluator purposely set him up to test his temperament? Or had he unknowingly affronted the guy?

Was this what it was coming down to? His entire future; his life dream resting on this ridiculous misunderstanding? He took a deep breath and tried to explain that he didn’t think he over-reacted and he certainly did not intend to be bossy or overbearing. They thanked him and dismissed him.

He went home with a nagging feeling that wouldn’t go away. A week later the expected letter came, but it didn’t bear the news he so passionately hoped for. It ended with (something like), “We wish you well in your search for employment in the airline industry.”

Personally, I would have torn the letter up and turned my career aspirations some other direction, but Garth waited a year and re-applied. By that time Herb, the VP of Flight Operations who had helped him earlier, had retired. This time there would be no guardian angel in company headquarters to shepherd his application along. Garth was completely on his own. 

They invited him back. They waived the simulator and sent him straight to the interview. A few weeks later he got his letter and the letter told him that a class date would shortly be assigned to him. He was in.

It took several hundred miles of dark South American countryside passing underneath us for Garth to tell me his story, but I was glad to hear it and it inspired me to know how some very special people will persevere as long as it takes to achieve their dreams. 

For me, it was easy. I seem to have been at the right place and the right time at every turn in my career. I didn’t have to do go through what Garth did. But after all these years I know now that my best career reward is not the planes, nor the pay, nor the travel. It’s being in the company of people like Garth who just wouldn’t quit.

Argentine skyscape    
Now he relaxed his limbs a little, let his neck sink back 
into the leather padding and fell into the deeply 
meditative mood of flight, mellow with inexplicable hopes. 
--St. Expuery, Night Flight