By lex, on March 6th, 2011
Kind of a crazy weekend. On Friday, someone very dear to me finally made a decision that offers a ray of hope in what had been a long tunnel of darkness and despair. I’m not prepared to go further than that right now, except to say that, perhaps in a month or so, this person may have turned a corner. There are no guarantees in this life, and tomorrow’s not promised. But if there is now – not exactly optimism, it is too soon for that – at least a reason not to give in entirely in to the notion of inevitable entropy.
Sorry to be so cryptic. We have shared many things, you and I. But not everything that impinges upon me is mine alone to share.
Two flights on Saturday, the weather fine if not entirely glorious. A new pilot joined the barn, and it was my duty to brief and lead both the dogfights. Which meant it was my privilege to choose the distaff side of the two husband and wife aerial gladiators to fly with me. If only for the reduced gross weight that was in it, with all the attendant advantages of thrust to weight and decreased stall margins.
The first lady was… how to put this decorously? The very figure of health.
The four-point harness restraints we use in the Varga are vintage 1970s NASCAR, and while they’re not really tricky, it’s far easier to help a guest pilot strap in than it is to explain the intricacies of the interlocking shoulder restraints and the lap belt. I make it my custom to ensure that I remain well clear of prohibited airspace while attending to these duties, but the first lass made it difficult, if not impossible. There was that much of her that the shoulder straps fair disappeared into the bountiful abundance when all was cinched right taut.
She gave her old man a right pranging on two out of three hacks, and appeared to enjoy herself mightily. If the generous gratuities we received after the event were any judge, hizzoner took it all in stride.
The second lady bundled into the back having been suitably briefed. I was helping her strap in from the port side canopy rail when she somehow contrived to get the starboard lap belt tangled down below the seat. Playing it the gallant, I offered to help her liberate the thing, thrusting my left arm down between the bulkhead and the seat well, leaning well over her to try and untangle the bitter end when my ginormous fighter pilot wristwatch got tangled up and caught. There I was, stuck most awkward and wondering how I’d explain any of this to a) the owners, 2) her husband or c) Skip the maintenance chief. Fortunately I managed to wriggle free before being 1) fired, b) beaten or 3) scorned upon by yet another in a series of professional mechanics. She sorted it out herself, and we were soon on our merry.
Which for herself, was quite merry indeed: At the first steep turn I heard an ambiguous sound burbling up from the back seat, and I didn’t now whether to take it for joy or alarm at first. The former, in the event, and she had more fun that a person has a decent right to have flinging the little craft around. I was a little concerned I’d have to replace the seat cushion when it was all said and done. Maybe throw some speedy-dry around.
The husband, he owes me.
The Hobbit and I had settled so down into our domestic routine that we were fair snoring by 2AM, when the phone rang. The parents of teenagers in the crowd will be aware that 2AM phone calls rarely portend any good news. In this case it was no one personally related to us, which was of course great good news. The bad news was that an acquaintance of our youngest had contrived to find herself in rather an awkward spot, and was very much need of a ride home, and that right quick.
So we picked her up, and another besides, and brought them safely home. There’s rather a tension between being the ones they trust enough to call when help is needed, and having a frank conversation with parents that are, to put it mildly, a little less than role models about what it was their daughter was doing in a disadvantageous situation at such an early hour on the one hand, and being stricken from the list of those who will make a difference when the chips are down on the other.
I’m sorting through it still. While very much looking forward to a stage of our lives when the ebbs and tides of teenage fortune are no longer of an immediate concern. We’ve been at this for “teenager” thing for going on eleven years, give or take a month or two, with years yet to go. It’s enough to make a man old.
Today was spent at one of those FAA test mills, trying to grind out a Flight Engineer (Turbojet) written test. I took this examination back in March 2001 before the world got in the way, and now need to renew the qualification in order to be potentially competitive in the race for probationary wages. Was there clicking on a battery of 404 highly technical practice test questions from 0800-1745 before I finally gave it over. It would never do to take the actual test as poorly rested and prepared as I was. Perhaps next week.
Work beckons still, for an indeterminate time.
We all of us persevere.