Unrelated things: work, and Luther

1. At my job, at the end of every land-line communication to another air traffic controller I am required by federal law to end the transmission with my operating initials. This is a pair of letters uniquely assigned to persons in a given facility. It identifies us for posterity, should the NTSB or lawyers find some need to know who I am.

I find it almost impossible to have normal, regular phone conversations without ending the call with my operating initials. The shorter the call, the harder it is, because short calls are more like work land-line communications.

2. This morning’s fortnightly briefing was about maintaining situational awareness. I realized, again, as I watched the video, that doing my job is a bit like deliberately instilling OCD into otherwise normal people. What drives us to continue to scan, to continue to keep watching the planes, what prompts us to take the routine actions we need to take day in and day out is a deliberately engineered sense of anxiety and failure. This is called “training.” Two years of training, more or less, and at the end of it we all have a heightened sense of stress and anxiety when things are not being done precisely the way we think they ought to be done. You could say it’s an irrational sense of stress and anxiety — after all, does it REALLY matter how many inches from the edge of the console my trackball is? (Yes, it does, don’t touch my trackball dammit.) But all of those things are part of the cultivated obsessive-compulsive behavior that makes sure I am looking at your flight, all the time, even when nothing is a problem.

3. I’m watching the British crime drama Luther, on the recommendation of a couple of friends. What I am struck by the most so far is the character of Zoe Luther, the lead’s estranged wife. John Luther is played by the attractive, large, powerful, strong Idris Elba. Zoe is played by the attractive, tall-for-a-woman Indira Varma. Luther has violent fits of temper in which he destroys property in front of Zoe. And Zoe … why does she trust that this rage will never come down on her head? What makes her think he won’t swing at her? Why isn’t she more afraid of him then she is? Hmm.

One Response

  1. “Two years of training, more or less, and at the end of it we all have a heightened sense of stress and anxiety when things are not being done precisely the way we think they ought to be done.”

    oh man. i wish i’d known this growing up when i was dealing with my father. that sheds quite a bit of light on any number of things. hopefully you have better luck *not* conditioning your children to the same behaviors than my father did :)

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