Wednesday, August 20

R E L I E F ?

I must first apologize for my absence. I have been held to the ground—the worst place for a tanker chick—against my wishes. There, I said it out loud. They say that once you verbalize a thought—or write it down—it evolves into a better thing, what ever that means.

Days off encourage me to brush away the bits of tarmac embedded during the previous two weeks of duty. Though I will not get airborne during my “weekend” either, at least I'll have freedom to spread my wings.

Unfortunately, in the SEAT world, a much needed reprieve has its price: the relief pilot. Already, for those in the business, the utterance of such words causes restrictions to the body’s passageways. The characters themselves are not the issue, but the wreckage left in their wake. Rarely do I return to the aircraft in the condition it was left. Word to the brother: If you break my tanker during my absence I suggest you get it fixed by the time I return. Do not put me out of service because of your neglect.

The business of relieving is not an easy gig. You are dealing with multiple personalities and character flaws. Everything everywhere is different: dispatching procedures, SEAT managers, other pilots and crew members, air base hierarchy, and the airplanes themselves. But that’s part of the deal . . . to be chameleon like and go about your business as covertly as possible.

I can assume the worst from the comfort of my home. I know there is lightning where my airplane is. I know my relief pilot is flying. I know I turned off my phone after trying to return his call about not being able to get the airplane started. I am seething with jealousy and depressing rage.

I realize that even at two and a half hours (drive) away, I am still stuck to that tarmac . . . wondering why they call it relief.