Friday, April 03, 2009

A Tale of Two Johnnies

Work for the same employer for going on three decades, and you'll go through some rather distinct passages. I think about the beginning of my career, when I was the youngest in my Army flight school class. Later, I was the youngest pilot stationed at Fort Ord, California. In fact, for a time in '76 and '77, I was the only pilot on the post who couldn't legally buy a beer off-base.

But things have, duh, changed. The first time it hit me that I was getting to a mature stage of my career was several years ago. I was talking to one of our new pilots, a guy named Tim, from New Zealand. He asked, "When did you hire on with PHI?" I answered, "In 1979." "What month?" "September," I answered. An evil little smile lit upon Tim's face. "What's so amusing?" Tim chuckled, and replied, "I was born a month after you hired on with PHI."

Whoa. And to think, I used to like that little effer.

Another passage came with new blood in our training department. Three years ago, I took my first checkride with a company instructor who happened to be younger than me. The dude didn't even have gray hair. The nerve. I thought about buying gray hair coloring for him.

The corker came when I saw a name on the crew lineup one day. The name "Johnny Cope" leaped out at me, and I assumed that a guy I'd met soon after I hired on had returned from an EMS job to the Gulf. I called out into the pilot lounge: "Hey, does anyone know if Johnny Cope is out flying?" A fairly young-looking guy piped up, "That would be me." "Wow. I knew a Johnny Cope when I first hired on." The young-looking guy, who I later learned was a retired Army pilot, answered "He's my dad."

Whoa. How did all this happen when I'm not yet eligible for the Denny's senior discount?


Pam said...

Trust me, the senior food discounts are for the birds. Unless, that is, you go for thimble-sized portions.

Movie and Six Flags discounts, on the other hand, rock!

Bob Barbanes said...

Heh. Yeah Hal, getting old sucks.

I was having lunch recently with an old friend who's still with PHI-EMS. We used to fly together in the GOM back in the day. I thought about it and realized that "back in the day" was twenty friggin' years ago! Damn! It didn't seem like that amount of time had passed. But it had, as it does, quickly.

Greg and I laughed (wryly) about getting old, and all the experiences (some might call them "scare stories") that brought us to where we are now. Would we go back to the younger "us"? No way.

So let us hope that the junior Johnny Cope has an equally long and rewarding career ahead of him, as his father and you have had the good fortune to enjoy.

But getting old still sucks.

Kelly said...

I'm 50, but I still don't think of it as old. Today is my aunt's 97th birthday. Now, THAT'S old!!

quid said...


Is there really gray hair dye? I'm just sayin'....


Debby said...

Getting old beats not getting old. Just saying.

Pam said...

Damn right, Debby! Sure beats the alternative!

Dean said...

Nice post! Age is just a number. Right? Who am I kidding.

I manage a team of engineers. Most of the guys are at least 10 years older than me. I think about this a lot. I wonder if I treat the older guys any different to the younger guys... I'm told that I'm fair, but I'm not. Not really. I expect the younger guys to be quicker and I expect the older guys to be more professional. More mature.

After reading your post, I'm beginning to wonder whether I'm being ageist.