Wednesday, August 18, 2010

a day in the life of a pilot - from my point of view

Steve left this morning on a four day trip. I thought about doing this blog last week, and figured it would be a neat way to track all his doings, from my point of view.  Note that I will be writing this post in real time.

Preparation:
Last night to prepare for his trip, Steve had to pack his bags and get his uniform ready.  He has a certain technique in packing his clothes.  He rolls his undershirt, boxer shorts and socks into on bundle. Now, if the bundle is clean the tshirt is on the outside.  If the bundle is dirty his boxer shorts are on the outside of the bundle.  This is a pretty nifty way of keeping things in order.  OCD, maybe a little. 

He zipped up his suitcase, looked at me and said, "this thing has held up pretty well." I rolled my eyes.  You see, his suitcase is over 10 years old and it is WAY past its prime.  It has taken him to many countries, many cities and too many hotel rooms.  It has done him well, but he needs a new one!  "Come on," he tells me "it still looks pretty good." "It looks good because someone invited black duct tape," I said.  Yes, there is duct tape around his handle somewhere.  Oh, and his wheels are now from his rollerblades. 

I then asked who his CA was, and he told me it was the same guy as last.  It took a bit for me to remember and then I said "oh, clam chowder and three beers," which is what both of them had for dinner one night last trip. I guess the chowder was really good...it had a nice smokey flavor to it.  He proceeded to pull out a folder which had a number of sheets staples together...the scab list.  His CA is a scab.  Steve then says "you know, I hope Ben is never a scab." This is assuming that Ben will be a pilot, but that is a different post. My reply was "so, you are telling me that if Ben were a pilot and on strike, you would pay for his mortgage before he crossed the picket line?"  "YES!"  Enough said.


Day 1:
Show: 7:55, which means a 5:55 alarm.  His phone alarm went off first, and then I turned off the clock alarm before it went off as to not wake the kids.  He snoozed, then got up.  When he was getting ready I was in and out of sleep.  At one point he moved his phone next to Ben's monitor and I kept getting feedback.  I simply reached over and moved his phone to the bed.

He kissed me goodbye, told me he would see me on Wednesday and left to fly the friendly skies.  I fell back asleep.

Day 1 is just a leg to TPA.  He told me before he left that he is going to get in, and take a nap.  And nap he did.  He got into TPA, took a short nap and then met the CA at a sports bar for some beer.  I have to say, I like when these guys go out!  Being on the road is lonely, and to have someone to share some time with is nice.

Now, what did I do this Day 1?  Well, kids got up, we ate breakfast, I got everyone dressed...I even showered before 9am!  We went to the grocery store...gotta love the grocery stores with these carts!  Makes mama's job a lot easier.


We got home, put CC down for her morning nap, unloaded the groceries, had a heart to heart with our realtor (4 months and counting on the market) and then talked with my aunt on the phone. CC got up and we headed to an open house in the neighbor to check out our competition, then headed up to a birthday party.  Now, THAT was draining!  It was hot and humid out, and that always drains you. But, even more so, it is just hard to watch two kids by yourself on foreign territory.  At one point Ben had to poo and I basically threw CC into the arms of a woman (my co-workers mother, so a very trusted woman) as I rushed Ben to the potty.  One thing I have learned from being a part-time single mom is to take help from anyone when necessary!

So, it is now 7:02pm, CC is asleep, Ben is watching a movie, I am showered and in my pjs.  Once Ben is down I will go eat Doritos and have a beer on the couch as I flip from channel to channel.

What is Steve up to this fine evening? Probably nothing. Since he and the CA went out earlier they are probably just calling it an early night.

It is now 9:20pm...Definitely, Maybe is on right now, and at the first commercial break I was about to head upstairs to watch the movie in bed.  I did my usual check of the house before heading up and realized that I didn't wash off CC's tray from her highchair...drat!  So, off to the sink...only to discover it is clogged! The dishwasher was running and I don't know what the heck happened...watermelon rind from earlier today, perhaps?  Double drat...STEVE!!!  Aren't husbands the one to unclog sinks?  Ok, ok...I can do this

Off to the garage to find this lovely thing:


and then plung plung away.  Sink, unclogged.  Success! 

Now...off to watch the rest of the movie.

wait...Steve just called me.  9:27pm: he is going to bed.  4:30a wake up call...ouch!

Steve's legs today:
CLE to TPA: about 2 1/2 hours flight time, on time.



Day 2:
Let's call this the day of minimum speaking.

I just spoke to Steve for, a whopping, 1 minute and 28 seconds.  This is all I will talk to him today.  He called, asked how my night was, and I told him.  Then he said "hey, I don't mean to cut this off quick, but we were late getting out of TPA, and we are 6 minutes from pushing."  He called me in IAH, and is on his way to Calgary (I will need to figure out that airport code) and he doesn't have cell phone coverage international. 

Things he will not be involved in, which I would have liked him to be:
- scheduling the wood refinishing in the new house
- scheduling my dad to come up this weekend to help with the tile and floor prep
- scheduling my in-laws to watch the kids in October so mommy and daddy can get away

The *best* part of the day today: when Ben started walking down the stairs, when he should have been sleeping, crying for Daddy.  He kept saying "I wanna go outside and wait for Daddy," just like we did the other week.  He isn't home for over 2 days, so I told him the wait would be too long.  Ben really was stalling bedtime, but it still broke my heart to hear him say that.  Ugh...these are the moments that suck!  These are the moments that I wish I could make Steve come home in an instant.  These are the moments that I think to myself  "Steve is going to miss half our life."  These are the moments that just plain suck.  These are the moments that I don't tell Steve about, because it would break his heart even more than it broke mine.

Steve's legs today:
TPA to IAH: about 2 hours flight time, delayed 25 minutes
IAH to Calgary (YYC): about 4 1/2 hours flight time, on time


Day 3:
It is 10:46am, and I am not sure where Steve is.  This is not unusual.  I don't have a copy of his exact schedule, which is normal. Some months I do, if I print out a PDF from the scheduling system.  But I didn't for the month of August.  My usual pattern is to just circle a calendar with his days on the road with "go" times and end times, which is really all I care about.


He usually gives me a rundown on his trip before he leaves, and sometimes (like now) I don't remember all the details.  My guess is that he is flying from YYC to IAH, since there is no direct YYC to EWR flight.  I am assuming he gets in around 1pm, my time.  So, hopefully the phone will ring about that time.  Hopefully he will have time to talk.  I *think* he may be international again tonight.  That would make for two nights in a row...not usual.

****

Sure enough, I was spot on with Steve's flight.  He called me at 1:09p and our call lasted 9 minutes and 8 seconds.  We talked about the kids, briefly about Calgary, about his parents watching the kids in October, about getting new windows in our house.  I could tell he wasn't talkative nor interested so I ended the call with "ok...you aren't talkative...talk to you later." And that was it.  I have mentioned before about his words being cold and flat, and sure enough that is what I got. 

He has a two hour sit and then off to Mexico City for the night. I am sure he will go grab lunch, sit in the crew room and probably take a nap.   

****

Steve just called at 3:13pm to tell me "good night." This call lasted 47 seconds.   He is on his way out to MEX.  In total we talked for about 10 minutes today.  I call this another day of minimum speaking.


Steve's legs today:
YYC to IAH: about 4 hours flight time, on time

IAH to MEX: about 2 1/2 hours


Day 4:
Steve comes home today!  Yeah!!!!! 

I tell you what, this morning was a bit rough.  CC woke up around 6:15, which is about 30 minutes early.  That 30 minutes in the morning is a big deal since it means that now she has to be in the bathroom while I shower.  Being in the bathroom means that she searches through the vanity to keep occupied.  I let her do it so that can be clean, but it means a big mess to clean up.

Then Ben woke up.  I love this child more than life, but he has inherited the I-am-going-to-be-a-crank-ass-every-morning-when-I-wake-up gene...I have to thank Steve and his mother for this lovely gene.  I am chipper the second I get up.  Why couldn't he get that gene.  Anyway, so Ben was a pill the entire morning.  Everything ended in tears.  I stayed patient and calm, but I wanted to scream.

At last, we were packed in the car on the way to school.  All the sudden I hear a gush and then Ben starts screaming.  He spilled orange juice all over himself.  Back to the house we went.  I had to strip him down, wash him off, dress him, place towels on top of the now wet car seat...and off to school we go again. 

This morning I made no calls to family, which is my usual routine.  Mama needed some piece and quiet.  Just a couple more hours until Steve gets home.

Last night he was in Mexico City.  He doesn't like overnighting in Mexico City, and according to Murphy's Law he has been getting a decent Mexico City overnights.  Ah...this just dawned on me...I wonder if he will have another disappearing sunglasses case story...

****

Steve called in to say hello while in IAH, and we discussed the latest news: second showing on our house, delivery of wood to the new house, how our night was, ect.  Then we hung up so he could grab lunch.  This was the last I spoke with him until he was on the crew bus to the employee parking lot.


Steve's legs today:
MEX to IAH - about 4 hours, on time
IAH to CLE - about 3 hours, on time

****

Well, another trip is done and over.  Steve arrived on time, actually he was 15 minutes early, on his final leg, which is really the only leg I care about being on time.  We met at the new house, ate a bit, he changed out of his uniform, we headed out for ice cream, and then called it a night.  We are back together...one big happy family...

Steve has uneventful flights, "spend too much money" (or so he says), and loved how cool the mornings were in Calgary.  I think that about sums up his trip.

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