A pilot’s life…

In today’s society I often find myself disappointed.  Don’t get me wrong here because I understand there are a lot of really great people out there, but it seems like the ones you see the most that stand out aren’t the good.  It’s the misbehaved movie stars and singers that make the news.  The ones doing drugs, getting arrested, fighting with others.  It’s the criminals, the perverts, drunkards.  Some days I really feel like the old country song, “I sure could use a little good news today!”  So when I see good or hear about it, it makes me happy to think about those who are still out there plugging along despite todays society.  When I see good (and on a continual basis) that makes me even happier!  Let me explain 🙂  We have had pilots and stewardesses staying with us at the hotel for several months now.  Part of the agreement that we have with them is that, with our shuttle service, we have agreed to pick them up at the airport and then return them in the mornings.  Have you ever really spent time around people in this industry?  Enough time that you have had the opportunity to talk to them and really get to know their lives?  I’ve had a few of my preconceived ideas blown out of the water for sure!

For starters, these pilots have been the most gentlemen-like group of men I’ve met in a long time!!!  It’s really refreshing to see.  When they all come down early morning I have coffee and a light breakfast prepared for them and ever single one of them is always so good at thanking me for doing this.  They strike up a conversation for the few minutes they eat and it’s interesting to think about the life they lead.  First of all, I always thought what a dream job!  For a pilot, you get to spend all this time flying planes (every little boys fantasy!) traveling the world, seeing new places, meeting new people, and all the while you are making some great money!  I feel like I couldn’t have been more wrong.  I also thought as a stewardess you have the same travel benefits, seeing the world, meeting wonderful people….how could you go wrong?!  The reality of the job is that, because most of the planes are flying during the day the life these people lead isn’t that glamorous.  Their day starts early in the morning (usually they are up somewhere between 4:30-5:00) while it is still dark outside.  They have a strict code of appearance in their contract, so they must always be well put together.  For the women, this means high heels, makeup, hair done, etc.  For the men, clean-cut appearance, nice shoes, etc.  They quickly get ready, eat the light breakfast I’ve prepared for them and then we head to the airport.  It’s still dark outside when I drop them off and they spend the rest of their day flying.  These particular puddle-jumper type planes run until around 9:00 p.m. at which point we pick them up from the airport, bring them back to the hotel and they try to sleep for the night.  I’ve asked them if they are able to explore during the layover times, but usually that time is filled with cleaning the plane, planning the routes needed, business stuff.  So basically the reality is they spend all day in a plane traveling a world they never get to see.  They start early, end late, live in hotels and have to be away from their families.  The times when the rest of the world is scrambling to be with our loved one (holidays and such) these people are working twice as hard and missing out on their time so that we can enjoy ours.  One group of pilots I talked to during the Christmas season said they haven’t spent a Christmas with their family in almost 10 years.  You would think the compensation for this would be great but the reality is that they struggle to pay their bills just the same as we do.  Cell phones being shut off, on the verge of loosing homes, worrying about their family that is back home without them and trying to work so hard to make a life for them.  I couldn’t do it.  However, they are always so nice to me.  The pilots are holding the doors for the stewardesses and I, loading and unloading bags themselves and just being true gentlemen all around.  Technically they are doing my job for me.  But the kinder side of them just can’t seem to let a woman load bags when they are standing watching.  Then in the end, they still each usually give ME a tip!

I guess I write this post just to point out that things aren’t always what they seem.  I had a grandiose idea of what this life would be like, and the reality is that on the inside, it’s not quite as glamorous.  And yet, even though it’s a life that would wear on me and I’m not sure I could handle, they but a smile on a still think of others.  I know each job has its ups and downs, but I think it’s good as a customer to look from the other perspective.  So the next time you are on a flight over the holiday season, or even regular season for that matter be sure and be gracious to your airplane staff.  Yes, they are getting paid to be there and do their job, but they are also paying a price for it too.  And if you can in some way put a smile on someone’s face and make their day a little brighter, why wouldn’t you?!

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