Day 3 of a 4-day: My boss walked into the office after a ski trip to Aspen, and within a couple minutes he said to me "I have a question for Steve..."
Basically, he wanted to know if sterile below 10K was 10K from sea level or 10K from the elevation of the airport. Again, since he was just coming from Aspen (around 5k elevation), he felt the sterile light was off pretty quickly after they took off, so he was curious.
So, when Steve called me a couple hours later, I asked him.
He was tired. He was tired and cranky. He had just flown a "reverse red-eye" the night before. He left the east coast around 10pm, and landed somewhere on the west coast around 4am body clock time. And I am not leaving out the details on purpose...really, I don't recall what cities he was leaving and flying to...there are just too many to always remember. He could have been in DC (DCA or IAD? again, not sure) and flew to SFO. Maybe EWR to LAX? Maybe BOS to SEA? Not sure. Oh, maybe EWR to SFO? The possibilities are endless! Doesn't really matter either...you get the gist.
Anyway, so when Steve called in around 11am, my time, he probably just woke up. I should have just said "good morning, honey. Hope all is well. Call me later." Yes, sometimes our conversations *are* that short. Usually, I can tell his mood and do what I think is best to keep peace so that neither of us get pissed off.
Instead I got into the question at hand.
Me: Is 10K from sea level, or from the elevation of the airport?
Steve: from sea level, mostly...
and then I started in on the more specific questions. I should have not done so. The conversation QUICKLY escalated to near disaster.
In short, he was making the point that there is a lot to do below 10K feet, so that is the general marker. In my head I was thinking if sea level to 10k feet means lots of work, how can you do all that work within a shorter time frame (5K to 10K feet?)
He wouldn't listen to my thought process...and just talked over me.
All I did was ask a question...stupid, cranky pilot.
I quickly stopped the conversation in hopes to preserve our sanity and marriage. In moments like this, all I say is "call me later. Good bye." And we hang up. We both know a line was crossed, and it be best to stop talking.
I stood up, threw my phone on my desk, went to the restroom down the hall, and came back to find this text message:
10000 feet is used generically...the same altitude regardless of the airport for consistency...so you don't miss it...if you do it the same way every time, you will be less likely to forget.
The cranky pilot...and the pilot wife that puts up with this shit from time to time.
On Monday and Tuesday I was a juror in a civil case about a traffic accident back in 2007. Overall, the experience was really cool. The courtroom, the people, the judicial system, the judge, the jurors...all VERY interesting! There was just so much to talk about regarding the experience.
In our typical fashion, the evening of day-4 when Steve gets home, we sit in the family room and talk. Sometimes with the TV on, sometimes not. Sometimes drinking beer or wine, sometimes not.
** Let me set Steve's physical situation at this point in time - that morning he had just finished a 2-leg red-eye. And let's not forget the reverse red-eye in that pairing too! He was beat. He was basically a walking zombie when I got home from work. His eyes were blood shot and he was quiet and looked exhausted. He came to life a little bit around dinner. But, I knew this trip really fucked with him. He said that the way the trip was laid out he couldn't plan sleep right, and it all just added up. This trip is as bad as they come in terms of fucking with you, and you bet Steve made that point known to the powers that be. Pilots wives are keenly aware of things like this, and know how to act accordingly to keep peace in the house until he fully recovers. Take Saturday morning, Steve was the one to sleep in while I got up with the kids, even though it was MY morning to sleep in. I knew he wasn't totally set back to normal yet, so I did what I felt was best to get him back to normal. **
Well that evening, after the kids were down and we settled into our typical fashion, I was sitting in the rocking chair and Steve was lounging on the couch. I was drinking some raspberry tea. There was a basketball game on the TV.
I started to talk about the jury duty experience. The conversation was going fine for a bit, until I started talking about a fellow female juror. I kept talking about this gal, with my head turned to the TV, and suddenly Steve says "Joanna...I didn't hear a thing that you just said."
"What?" I asked him, almost in shock...I mean, I was mid-sentence!
"I am sorry, I was reading an email about our contract" he responded.
"I thought you signed your contact" I demanded.
"We did, but it doesn't mean that the company is holding true to it, so the union sent out an email" he said. "Tell me what you were saying..."
"Oh hell no. You won't be hearing any more about this gal" I said, pissed.
"JOANNA...I *HAVE* to read these emails!" Steve said, totally agitated.
Steve, agitated at me...because *he* wasn't listening? Um, what am I missing here? "Then you should have told me you received an email, and you needed a minute."
Boy did that turn my "you're gettin' some tonight" switch to OFF! My attitude was instantly transformed. This cranky pilot shit is for the birds! I wanted to erupt.
I sat there quietly for a minute or two, fuming. I stood up, neatly folded the blanket that was covering me, placed it on the chair, and walked right upstairs to bed. I was asleep before he crawled into bed some time later. There was no sense in starting an argument, since I knew he wasn't in a normal mind-set. I bit my tongue and kept peace.
At this point in Steve's career, he is able to manipulate his body clock to fly safely. 5:15a van times? No problem. Red-eyes? No problem. Reverse red-eyes? No problem.
However, the problem then surfaces at home - the second he walks in that door. Lucky me. Certain trips just add up, day after day, and the result is one cranky-ass pilot. Sometimes you think that no paycheck is big enough to deal with this shit. Welcome home honey, now go back where you came from! And, after about 3 days, he recovers...just in time to leave again.
The life of a pilot wife continues...