The Oral Report

Standing up in front of the class was never so much fun!

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Location: River City, United States

The rantings and ravings of a mom of three wonderful girls as she finds new love while working like a dog and shaking her fist at the system. You know. Pretty much like everybody else.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Flashback Friday!

Day One: Brakes on car are acting funny. Need to take it in and get it fixed.

(Huge Middle Part Full of Un-Fun Adventures Omitted.)

Day Thirty Five: Still no car in sight. The natives are growing increasingly more restless. I fear for where this situation may go.


*-*-*-*-*

Reminds me of the journals of sailors on long sea voyages in the sixteenth century. It also reminds me of a story about a former employer. Which, of course, is what a Flashback Friday! is all about. Come along, musn't dawdle.

When I first starting working for Bob Green (real name changed) he was aviationally-challenged. By that, I mean, that he had previously owned his own jet, but had fallen on hard times and had sold it. Consequently, he'd been using (perish the thought...no, really...perish it) commercial aircraft to do all of his travelling for like a year or maybe more. He made a point of mentioning it during my interview and letting me know what a hardship it had put on him and his family not to have the plane. Of course, he left out the "because I've had to sit next to common people like you on airplanes when I wanted to take a jaunt to my place in Wyoming."

(Of course, this was the same man who told me "Let me tell you now. 'Please' and 'Thank you'. You shouldn't ever expect to hear those words again." Yep. He was true to his word, too. Four years with him and that was it.)

Now, I wanted to commiserate. Really. I did. I wanted to better understand just how bad it was to have to go from owning my own private jet, and going wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted, to having to wait in lines and deal with the commercial airline industry and it's many endearing foibles. Unfortunately, I, like the other George Bush, was apparently deeply out of touch.

Fairly soon after I started working there, he started shopping for a plane. It had to have a whizzy-gig and a whirly-bob and, of COURSE, he wouldn't even talk about it if it didn't have a whatsis. And, honestly, I couldn't argue with any of those points. Mostly, because my knowledge of aircraft was more than slightly limited. Especially private jets. Out of touch. See above.

And once he'd found that most perfect of planes at the most perfect of prices, he was a happy, happy man. Which, as anyone who is working for someone knows, makes your life a little happier, too. He brought pictures of the plane to show me. The exterior, the interior, the cockpit. Yeah, sure, lovely. Looks like an airplane...only smaller. Joking aside, I thought it looked fine.

He thought so, too, except it needed an all new color scheme. So, the first thing we did, before he ever stepped foot onto the plane was to completely renovate the thing. It seemed an egregious waste of money to me. Especially when I priced aviation-friendly microwave ovens (special power requirements) and they were $20,000. Oh, but he had to have one. You never know when you'll need some popcorn or a warm bagel on your way to Boca Raton. Sheesh. You people are so out of touch.

Once it was all spiffed up, he was jaunting hither and yon. His two grown sons and their families were using it to travel. The plane was staying busy. Oh how wonderful not to have to deal with waiting at the airport, or showing up hours early to go through the hassle of boarding, or dealing with lost luggage nightmares. Foolish, foolish, impoverished me. I had come to accept those things as somehow normal, and all the time, they were completely avoidable. All I needed was my own plane.



Now, that part was the build up.

This part is the let down.




9/11 was a difficult time for a great many people. Not only the day itself, but the subsequent days and weeks, as search and rescue operations were going on and the world was reeling from the events. For me, my world, here in River City, miles and miles and miles away from any of the death and destruction that are associated with that day's events, I had to deal with my own problems.

On 9/11 (THE 9/11), my boss and his youngest son were en route to NYC at the time that the planes were crashing into the World Trade Center towers. Bob's pilot was diverted to Chicago and forced to land. I imagine that's what everyone was being forced to do. Get the planes out of the sky or shoot them down.

It didn't sit particularly well with Bob, but after he'd heard about what was going on elsewhere in the world, he was grateful not to be involved in it, and grateful not to be in New York. He and his son spent the night in Chicago and then, the next day, when the FAA still wasn't allowing anything in the air, he, reluctantly and with much production, rented a car and drove home. A 5-6 hour car trip and I am really still amazed that he did it. Generally, anything longer than 30 minutes and he'd get a driver. But, well, things at the time were pretty higgledy-piggledy everywhere.

Now, that was on Wednesday and Bob's fiancee' was at his home in Boca Raton at the time. And she wanted to come back to River City. Right. Now.

Bob charged me with getting her there. Roughly 1100 miles. Over 16 hours by car. But, well, there was no air transportation available in the country at the time. Let us not forget that. It's a crucial aspect of my imminent failure.

On Thursday, 9/13, Bob called me to find out what time his fiancee's flight was getting in. Yeah, see, it's like this. There was this HUGE thing two days ago and the federal government is not allowing any air traffic whatsoever until they figure out just exactly what the hell happened. She's safe and everything. Just can't get her here.

Oh, Bob didn't like that at all. His pilots had stayed in Chicago with his plane and he wanted me to have them go get her. Yeah, see, um...no.

Now, I don't know if Bob's woman was wearing him out about getting back or if he was just feeling 'lonesome' without her. You know, thinking about it now makes me just a little queasy. Anyway, he was wearing ME out trying to get around the regs. For the record, the FAA wasn't having ANY of my stuff back then.

Of course, this became my main priority, so I'm calling airlines every few hours trying to get any seat I could get to get her home. When, on Friday, I found an available seat on one of the first flights back in service, I was rather proud of myself. I don't know how many of you were flying at the time or working in an industry tied to air transportation, but it was a thing.

Bob's morning call, which I'd been awaiting, finally came in and I was pleased to report to him that I'd found her a flight home. Bob, however, was not pleased. Bob was upset because it was not in first class and because the connection had an hour and a half layover. Cynthia was NOT to be subjected to such treatment. I attempted to explain to him that this flight was ALL that was available and that if I didn't ticket it pretty much immediately, there might not be another opportunity for days. He was completely unsympathetic to my situation. I was to find her a first class seat on a direct non-stop flight. Today.

Bullwinkle J. Moose, I'm not. (Though we've both got really big feet, and an interesting grasp on the English language.)

There are only so many things that I can pull out of my hat. A first class seat on a direct non-stop flight from Florida to River City three days after a MAJOR disaster ain't one of them. Perhaps, just perhaps, mind you, it may have been an unreasonable request. (In four years with him, there came to be many of those.)

It didn't stop him from yelling at me that HE WANTED HER HOME, DAMN IT!, or threatening me that he'd find someone who COULD do the job, or even from ignoring me when I tried to explain to him the reality of the situation. I generally argue with Highlander when he goes on and on about my high level of competence. (He'll totally back me up here.) Usually, though, I can get things done. Not this one. Could not circumvent the United States Government during a disaster of historic proportions. It was a very surreal week for me. And not just because a bunch of terrorists had come to this country and killed a whole lotta Americans, either.

In the end, I booked her on the same crappy coach seat on the same crappy flight on Saturday, because we'd lost the one on Friday. She and Bob were both unhappy about my shortcomings in this area. Better, they let me know it. Somehow, I have been able to survive the shame, and have come to terms with my human fallibility and limitations.

Now, while I realize that this may have made a more appropriate Flashback Friday! for some time closer to 9/11, not having my car lately, and thinking about how nice it is to just go out and jump in it and be able to go and do what I want, when I want...well...it put me to mind of how Bob must have felt. At least I think it's as close to that feeling of him being aviationally challenged as I'm likely to get. Or want to get.

In the moment, I didn't get it at all. I just thought he was a jerk and that his whole insistence on instant gratification was a huge pain in my ass. In a big way. It would appear, though, that the enlightenment has finally found its way to me. If only my car would do the same.

Have a great weekend, everybody! And when you're out driving around this weekend, if it's not too much trouble, take one extra trip around the block for me, will ya? Thanks!

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1 Comments:

Blogger MJ Norton said...

As someone who's just about to have to put a vehicle in for some repairs (all the moreso as the front breaks need work) and an annual inspection, my sense of superstition's left me loathe to leave any snappy comments and observations on any of this other than to say you have my comisseration and best wishes.

And, of course, to commend you on another well-written entry.

Aside from that, the air travel tangent will likely always remind me of how eerie it was from the afternoon of Sept. 11th on for several days to have the skies so clear of any air traffic that wasn't military.

7/30/2006 11:39 AM  

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