Alphabet Blogs, Aviation, Humor

S is for Snow

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This slacker looks familiar…

There were occasions during my flying career where snow and aviation collided.

Ages ago, when I eked out a living as a flight instructor, I was able to earn more money clearing the runways with the owner’s decrepit, underpowered, pickup truck rigged with an oversized plow blade and minimal heat, than the way-below-poverty-level income guaranteed to me for actually teaching.

Once, to save money, the owner decided to dig out his airport himself and it turned into an unpaid, compulsory, two week “vacation” for me.  That’s how long it took him to get the airport unburied without assistance.  I think it was his way of cutting costs, but it seems to me that it would have been better to have at least a minimal revenue stream during those two weeks.  After all, even though he didn’t have to pay any of his staff, he still had utilities and other fixed expenses.  Either way, I was stuck at home eating Ramen Noodles.  Some vacation.  I didn’t even get a lousy t-shirt.

Things changed significantly when I worked as a freight dog, though.  I actually did have one snow day during my 5 years of employment.  I was flying a route out of Midway airport that started around 4:00 p.m. and ended at midnight.  I arrived on time, despite the fact that the airport was closed and no one was going anywhere, to find the first of our 3 Beech Barons in the hangar awaiting some TLC from maintenance.  The second was also parked in the hangar, which, as it turned out, could not be opened because the door had been sealed shut by drifting snow.  The third aircraft was almost completely buried outside on the ramp, with only a single propeller blade protruding from its frozen shroud.

Dispatch insisted that I wait to see if the airport would open.  I believe their plan was for me and my colleagues to simultaneously fly the single usable – but trapped – Baron to complete our routes.  Instead, we passed the time engaged in a snowball warfare on the ramp. After about six hours of goofing off, not including my numerous calls to Dispatch begging them to give up the ghost and let me go home, coffee breaks, and time spent checking the weather radar, they finally relented and let me – and only me – go home an hour before my shift would have ended anyway.

It took three guys to push my car, snugly encased in six hours of relentless snowfall, out of its parking spot and into the deserted street, but it was worth it.  That hour of snow-related freedom was immensely better than the two weeks I suffered through as a flight instructor.  Mostly because there was no Ramen involved.

Humor, Musings, Weight Loss

A’Sledding We Will Go

Why I live anywhere other than Hawai’i, I’ll never understand.  There’s no snow in Hawai’i.  Well, except every once in a while up on Mauna Kea, but that doesn’t really count because it wouldn’t be my job to shovel it.  I hate snow.  Snow has about the same chance of me suddenly taking a liking to it as a mackerel in a barrel with Annie Oakley lining up a shot with her lucky bazooka.  Which is the reason I magically transformed into a whiny little girl today when my family brought up the subject of going sledding.

Me: (whining pathetically) “But it’s too cold.  There’s not enough snow.  The sled hill is probably closed.  My gloves are too thin.  My snow boots are too old.  I’m too old.  I have to wait for the mail.  I stubbed my big toe last week and am still too injured to go sledding.  Doctor’s orders.”

My family:  (sighing in exasperation – yes, even the 2-year-old) “Whatever.  Get your coat and let’s go.”

I didn’t exactly cry on the way out to our community’s sled hill.  Not really.  You can’t prove anything.

At one point during the short drive, my husband glanced over at me and asked, “Didn’t you ever go sledding as a kid?”  To which I replied, “Either I did and the event was somehow so horribly traumatic that my subconscious purged it from my memory as a defense mechanism, or no, I’ve never been sledding.  I hate snow.”

After giving me a brief look which communicated a smidgen of sympathy and a whole lot more of something along the lines of  “Pffft – what a weirdo,” my husband parked our car and began the arduous task of extracting our children and sleds.  I still wasn’t crying.

My husband, 7-year-old son, and 2-year-old daughter excitedly gamboled toward the smaller of the two hills, while I trudged behind desperately seeking a legitimate excuse to wait in the car.  Upon reaching the summit, I was shocked to discover that I wasn’t even slightly out of breath, unlike 2 years and 50 additional pounds ago which was the last time I was forced to endure the torture of sledding.

At that moment, I experienced an unexpected shift in my perspective.  Almost overwhelmed by the rush of sudden comprehension, I was finally able to truly see the unbridled elation and delight sledding brought to my family.  Their joyous laughter and excited screeches infused me with a lighthearted and childlike contentment and reduced my entire universe to that moment on that hill with the sudden knowledge that I was physically able to be a participant in their sledding adventure for the very first time.

After sledding for almost two hours down every hill available to us a seemingly infinite number of times, we were finally exhausted enough to head for home as fog began to silently creep over the sled hill and surrounding area.  I still hate snow and want to live in Hawai’i, but now maybe I won’t whine quite so much the next time my family wants to hit the snow hill.  I might not even cry.  Well, unless I have a hangnail or something.  Then all bets are off.