When work is busy, I have less to say about it. When work is slow, I can tell you all about the tv show I watched on my breaks, or this podcast I listened to, or the book I am reading, or the projects I am working on. When work is busy, there’s just work, and it is difficult to explain to people what I am doing all day.
Talking to planes.
Talking to planes with just one guy and a bunch of boxes, packages being hauled from the main depot to the small North Dakota towns, packages full of books or clothes or mail order sex toys or magazines or dvds or the bacon of the month club. Talking to planes full of passengers halfway between Dusseldorf and Los Angeles, sleeping or stretching their legs or wishing they’d put more music on their mp3 player or eating peanuts or trying to keep the baby from crying. Talking to planes with a family and two dogs heading up to the cabin for a week, with their fishing gear and the bickering teenagers and no cell phone reception once they get there. Talking to planes with the coworkers whose turn it is to have the co-op’s plane heading up to the company retreat, with their suitcases and the radio catching WCCO out of the Twin Cities, talking voices warbling in and out of reception as the lakes float by underneath. Talking to the commuter pilots we talk to every single day as they fly back and forth between company factories, a round-robin of parts and V.I.P.s that never ends and never seems to wreck their good mood. Talking to pilots carrying dead bodies of military personnel to their homes. Talking to pilots carrying body parts on ice in a race to get them to the person who needs them. Talking to pilots who speak seven languages, one of which is English. Talking to pilots who speak three languages, one of which is supposed to be English, and maybe is on a good day. Talking to pilots who are bored. Talking to pilots who are nervous. Talking to pilots who are fighting with their husbands when they get home. Talking to pilots who are trying to get next weekend off. Talking to pilots who have just started their careers and have something to prove. Talking to pilots whose only goal is the cold beer waiting for them at home.
And the pilots all need something.
They need a clearance out of the airport. They need a clearance in. They need to know what those clouds up ahead are doing. They need to know how long they’ll get delayed. They need to know where the air is smoother so the flight attendants can serve the drinks. They need to deviate, move to the right about thirty miles, so they don’t get too close to that iffy-looking thunderstorm. They need to climb, to descend, to practice that approach a couple of times before their exam, to turn, to slow down, to speed up, to take a re-route, to avoid those storms, to avoid these winds, to do the next thing and the next thing and the next thing because that is flying.
There is another next thing, until the pilot and the people sleeping and talking and eating and crying and working and humming and reading behind them in the plane are all on the ground safely.
That’s what I do, on these work days I don’t post much. I talk to planes. I tell them where to go, I tell them what to do, I tell them what they need to know so that the pilot can make smart decisions about where they will fly. And it’s a bit tiring. And that’s why I don’t post.