Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Nice Captain - In a New York Minute

In my travels, I've encountered a wide variety of characters. Most have been seated just to my left, the captains to my first officer. And what a strange array I've had to deal with. For the most part, I've gotten along with them. In fact, even those I couldn't stand, I still got along with. It's easier that way.

I've dealt with surfer dudes, racists, hillbillies, car nuts, song and dance men, nazis, airheads, religious freaks, countless other weirdos I can't recall and at least one pyschopath who offered to slap me.

We've had some odd conversations, and sometimes no conversations. The weird part of my job is I rarely work with the same person twice. Once we move past the usual, "How long have you worked here?" "Do you commute?" "Any kids?" we tend to into the wierd part. And sometimes it isn't what they say, but what they do.

I just got off a trip with perhaps the nicest man I've ever worked with. As captains go, he was a peach; complimentary, cordial, and made sure I was involved in every decision, which is how it's supposed to be, but isn't always.

But, he too had his quirk.

He carried with him a file folder about three inches thick. In it are tidbits of information about every city we fly to. You know how you'll be on a flight, trying to read, or sleep or watch a movie, and the pilot will come on to make an announcement, interrupting said book, nap or film? Usually it's a quick blurb about the weather and arrival time. Or a reminder to put your seat belt on. It generally takes a few seconds, but that brief interruption is enough to make you sigh audibly, role your eyes and curse under your breath. Well, you better hope you're not on board when this very nice man pulls out his file folder.

Forget everything you were doing, or had planned on doing. You'll be spending the next quarter hour listening to a thoroughly prepared and polished presentation on your destination. I must admit, for me to sit there next to him and listen to his speech is intricately more enjoyable than the typical conversations, or silence, I normally have. I like learning stuff and when I'm up front I don't have the luxury of reading a book or falling asleep.

Still, I found myself laughing each time he started his spiel, promising to give it in a New York minute. I wasn't sure how long a New York minute was, but it must be something like when people say God couldn't have made the world in seven days. Others will argue a day for God is longer than 24 hours. In that respect, a New York minute is more like fifteen.

Even when he said he was wrapping it up, he kept on going. Several times I heard mention of a video tape or DVD set available. I wondered what the folks in the back were thinking, but as they deplaned I heard more compliments and thank you's than ever before.

I may sound cynical from time to time here, but I truly enjoyed this guy. I hope I get to work with him again. It's nice to be around nice people. And it's nice to be nice to the nice. I'm going to try it some time.

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