Monday, May 24, 2010

Mileage Games

Okay, I admit it: I'm a frequent flyer slut. I regularly fly on United. Reach frequent flyer status with United, and you'll benefit from more legroom in the coach section, frequent upgrades to first class, and less worry about getting bumped off of a crowded, weather-delayed flight.

PHI's pilot union called for a strike in 2006. From September through the rest of that year, I wasn't flying to work. This put my exalted frequent flyer status at risk. The solution? Well, in December, United had a remarkably cheap fare to Honolulu. So, I flew to Honolulu from Sacramento. I took a taxi from the airport, and had dinner in town. I touched down in Sacramento fourteen hours after my departure. My frequent flyer status was safe for another twelve months.

My bride rolled her eyes at that one, and began referring to my sought-after mileage level as "sexual favor status." I told her that I once saw a movie at a bachelor party where that sort of stuff went on, but it had never happened to me in real life.

I feel guilty about that exchange, though. I didn't tell her the whole truth. The truth was that, although nothing physical went on, a flight attendant did once talk dirty to me. Yep. Down and dirty.

It was prior to take off, and I guess my situational awareness was lacking, because she leaned toward me and said, "Turn off your ****ing cell phone!"

Okay, I made that part up.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Geez, What a Month (or Two)

We cruise through life so much of the time, propped up by routine. But sometimes the road gets rocky.

My friend Jeff lost his wife in early April. She'd had kidney problems, but had been released to go home, and died suddenly after getting back. Jeff seldom referred to her as "my wife." Instead, she was nearly always "Cathy." It's sometimes striking how much you can read from one word. When Jeff said the word "Cathy," what I heard was, "I love her so much." Cathy was only in her fifties. It makes me sad to think that they've been denied the time to grow old together.

My coworker Shaun is one of those guys who seems in rapture over being a dad. He's mentioned the incredible feeling of having his infant son fall asleep on his chest, and of watching the little guy discover life and the world. Now his wife wants a divorce, and Shaun lives away from his son.

My coworker Tim flew regularly to the Deepwater Horizon. He knew several of the folks who worked on the rig personally. It was "his rig" so to speak; he was most often tasked for the crew change flights in and out of there. I haven't asked him if he knew any of the eleven workers presumed killed in the explosion. But, I know that it must weigh on him, knowing that he's been responsible for their safety in the past, while they were passengers on his helicopter. At around the same time as the Deepwater Horizon explosion, Tim learned that he had some major blockage of coronary arteries, and underwent the stent procedure. He'll be grounded for a minimum of six months. Tim was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross while serving as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam. I hope we'll see him back in the cockpit in a few months, and I hope that when he retires, it's on his terms.

Bob wrote about cars in a recent blog post. He mentioned how he's always loved driving and working on them. I've never been a big auto enthusiast, and my tastes have tended toward the practical (cheap). But, back in my Army days, I drove a fellow pilot's Corvette around when he'd had a bit too much of the happy sauce. Geez, the older Corvettes were fun to drive, and really comfortable for tall guys.
One day, when I lived in Austin in the early eighties, I found myself at a dealership haggling over the price of a new Corvette. It would have been quite a transition: Toyota Tercel to Corvette. The the price got down to something really attractive, because the dealer wanted to unload his remaining 'Vettes in the old body style to make room for the new, more European-looking model. I was really close to signing on the dotted line. But, I got cold feet at the end, for a reason probably best explained in an old joke. Surely you've heard it.
Q: What's the difference between a Corvette and a porcupine?
A: With a porcupine, the prick is on the outside.