In the previous post, I mentioned the start of a new column called Tanker Chick. Due to lack of inspiration that column has been slow to launch. So instead of waiting another month for “the big one” (as we like to say in the biz) we’ll call this week’s contribution Bench Warmer Chick—for obvious reasons.
People like to irritate me. I’ve recollected numerous occasions on the blog before. During such confrontations I pretend to act unscathed and rebound quickly. Kind of like the time I crashed my bicycle; I got up, brushed the gravel from my skinned knee, and clenched my jaw every time I needed to inhale. The tactic holds true for less violent situations.
“Oh! All those fires in California, you must be flying your fanny off,” some say.
Rebound. Brush. Clench.
“yeah, california does have a mess of activity but it’s not burning where i am.” I say. We cannot swarm to wildfires as we did soccer balls during the second grade. Dispatch is a complicated, illogical process, and something that many aerial firefighters will never understand.
What I can say—with a respectable level of energy—is that “‘bench warming’ sucks.”
“Well, at least you get paid to wait,” they say. What I get paid for, while biding time, is not the waiting itself but managing a fine line of sanity.
A common phrase heard over and over on air-bases: days of absolute boredom interrupted by moments of sheer terror. That’s fairly accurate, except for the terror part. What frustrates me most is the waste of resource. For example, I could buy one of those expensive industrial food mixers the size of a small bath tub and never use it. The mixer becomes a conversation piece producing nothing more than dents on the linoleum.
Years ago, I had a regional bigwig tell me that my airplane and I might as well be cardboard cut-outs. Meaning we wouldn’t be utilized. Because he said it arrogantly, I ignored him. But with little more than ten fire hours in three weeks, I can no longer squelch his voice. Moral plummets.