Sunday, December 28, 2008

On Being Away and Single

Sure, it's hard for guys with families to be away on the holidays, but it's too easy to lose sight of the fact that being away is difficult for single folks, too.

In the last several years, the average age of our pilot staff--now at about 660 pilots--has gone down a bunch. Ten years ago, the guy or gal holding the median spot on the seniority list had about ten years with the company. Now, that person has just a bit over three years with the company. PHI employs the most twenty-something pilots than since the years following the Vietnam War.

For a single guy or gal, being away from home, in a way, must be even harder than for a married guy. I feel connected to my home through my wife and son. I talk to them every day, and it gives me comfort to know that they'll be waiting for me when I go home.

Often, our single pilots have no one waiting at home, not even a dog or cat. (The critters don't like going without food for a week or two.) Their social networks are usually comprised of other single people, and often, contact with them ceases when the pilot is away. Being single as an offshore helicopter pilot carries its own burdens.

That's why I was happy to learn that my friend and coworker Eugene, who also had to work on Christmas Day, got a pleasant surprise from his girlfriend Ivy: she flew in from California to spend Christmas with him. It couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

Eugene and Ivy


Bob said...

Great surpise for Eugene! You can tell by his big grin that he got the best possible Christmas gift.

I was in my late 20s, my wife in her early 30s, when we married. So we had done the single thing for a few years and I remember the pangs of loneliness, the feeling like a third wheel. My older son is going through some of that now as he transitions from college to real life (although sometimes he acts like he's still in college . . . ).

Annie said...

Oh, that's sweet!

quid said...

What a joyous pic of Eugene and Ivy!

In my early 20's I was in mergers and acquisitions for a couple of big companies in Minneapolis. My job was about 80% travel, and my team, other than me, was all married men.

I knew that wives were skeptical of me until they had a chance to meet me and realize that I had no designs on their spouses.

I endured "the guys" complaining about how all they wanted to do on the weekends was go home and relax, but their spouses, cooped up all week, wanted to go to restaurants!

I grew pretty used to getting home too late on Fridays to meet up with my friends, and managed to get some social life in on Saturdays. It was a pretty taxing life for someone single.

So I get it for your pilots, especially at the holidays. It sounds like a glamorous job, but we all know that the sacrifices made are some times not visible.


Debby said...

One of the things that I remember most about being single and far removed from the family is that when something joyous (like Ivy's surprise visit for Eugene) happened, we all smiled a bit bigger.

Pam said...

awwwwwwwww..what a fun surprise for Eugene!!

I'm only spent a couple of Christmas' without any of my family. They just didn't seem like Christmas.

For me, the holidays are for family and friends, especially family. It's difficult when family time isn't an option.

Algernon said...

Very nice!

Chooah said...

Surprise of a lifetime and best Christmas EVARRR!! She's an amazing woman I tell you! =) You described the feelings quite perfectly my friend. My times being away before Ivy was in my life were some of the loneliest days I have ever experienced. Even though traveling to work hasn't changed... having her in my life makes all the difference.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Years everyone! Cheers!

Scotty said...

Aaaw, that's great, Hal - I'm sure I could feel that smile all the way over here.


King of New York Hacks said...

Taxi Drivers and Helipilots are of the same breed ...sending many honks down Broadway for the boys and girls who fly by !!! Holla from the KONYH !!!!