Enough about me. Let’s talk about pilots.
Just like demographics where the majority middle-class separates upper and lower, the commercial cockpit crew generally falls into three categories:
MARRIED with CHILDREN
Most pilots can be categorized in a nondescript “Married with Children” kind of way. These guys and gals are the family folks bidding weekends off to be home with the kids and socializing with the crew on layovers to scout the latest and greatest in food and fun.
As a rule, flight attendants like family folks up in the cockpit. They’re pleasant to interact with and there’s no reason to be on guard.
Next, we have Lurch who is hopelessly devoid of social graces.
Lurch is far more comfortable with inanimate objects in the cockpit such as gauges and charts and would prefer to fly cargo rather than humans he has to interact with.
He prints out flight plans that will most likely be stapled to a map of the United States with weather system diagrams shaped like cocktail weenies. He wears a clip-on tie, Old Spice and has heard of hair product but would never consider using it. This is the guy shuffling around your vacation destination in black socks and Reebok walkers with a newspaper tucked under his arm and a pair of clip-on sunglasses.
Should you happen to get stuck in an elevator with a Lurch, he’ll avoid casual pleasantries by staring at the floor display as they click by in a painfully slow manner that’s so uncomfortable, it almost hurts to watch.
On the other end of the cockpit spectrum are the Top Guns.
These boys flew Navy fighter jets or some other military craft and walk around as if air is still being pumped into their flight suits for G force prevention. They wear Ray Bans and Aviators and quite often a pair of i-pod headphones dangling over a loosely knotted tie generally topped off with a magnetic smile and a dash of charm.
I’ve never seen them group to play volleyball with snake-oiled skin on a layover but I have seen more than one wedding band disappear over the border, if they wear one at all.
Apparently it’s a superstition of sorts carried over from the military where one can easily lose a finger thanks to a wedding band catching on dangerous equipment. I have yet to figure out how pushing buttons on a commercial jet qualifies as dangerous equipment but perhaps that information is “classified.”
Catch them in the magic act and they’ll smile sheepishly as if to say, “Can you blame me? It’s your fault for being so irresistible.”
ALL WORK and CHILD’s PLAY
When you put a Lurch and a Top Gun in the cockpit together, odds of inflight phone calls to use the lavatory escalates considerably.
Lurch is all business and Top Gun, well, he can land a fighter jet on an aircraft carrier. Flying a commercial jet is *yawn* child’s play. What is this other guy so serious about?
While Lurch is giving the extended pre-flight briefing that includes aborted take-offs and grouping passengers upwind in groups of 10, Top Gun is putting himself in charge of the liquor drawer for the required debrief to follow.
He grins and winks behind Lurch as if to say, “I know, right? We’ll get through this together.”
Getting through more than a night together is rare given this bad boy has a fleet of jets at his disposal but it seems to be an initiation rite for flight attendants to try. I broke my 13-year rule about dating in the workplace for a Top Gun who had no ring and how did that turn out?
“Crash and burn,” my friends.