What a difference a year makes. I woke to what I thought was a lion roaring this morning. I ran out onto the veranda in my skivvies. I heard a bunch of commotion. Dammit. Just the kitchen crew messing about. Wait. There it is again. Yep a lion, two actually, calling to each other. And no, they don't sound anything like the one at the start of the MGM movies. That's a lion yawning with sounds of something else laid over the top. Like the sound of buffaloes running in 'Dances with Wolves,' total bullshit. Or cars peeling out, gravel doesn't make a squealing sound when it flies out from under a spinning tire.
My dad said he wanted to see someone make a Western that had streets full of horseshit. When the bad guy flipped over a table to hide behind, the good guy would just shoot the dumbass through the wood and be done with it. But that would put the special effects guys out of business.
Anyway, a year ago today(technically, 364.5 days considering the time change) I passed the check ride for my private pilot's license. While I was happy to pass, I was also quite concerned that the guy sitting next to me felt that I had the skills needed to fly a whirly-bird. I said as much. "Yep, you know enough to get yourself killed." Shit, I've known that for years.
Now I'm paid to fly a turbine machine over one of the last great wildernesses on the planet. Lucky. One in a million? In the words of Han Solo right before he flew up the bunghole of a gigantic space worm, "Never tell me the odds." My dad's friend Bob Zimbal says, "The harder I work, the luckier I get." And for the most part that's true. Luck of course plays a huge part. If I were born an untouchable in New Delhi the best I could hope for would be to rise from the sewer to become a rubbish collector. But I would have found a way to grab a broom and sweep bags of Marsala Munch from the sidewalks.
I sent out resumes the day I got my commercial license and fellow students in the professional pilot program laughed at me. I told them that I was holding a world-wide contest and whoever hired me first would win. They were concerned with minimum experience required and the like. What they didn't understand is that you hold the upper hand over anyone that has to advertise a position. They don't know anyone with the qualifications or the people they do know are folks they don't want to hire.
The tricks I learned in college like calling the secretary to make sure that they had received my cover letter so it would go back to the top of the pile went the way of the dodo with the rise of the internet. But not really, more like the way of the ivory-billed woodpecker. They're still out there. Those tricks work again. Hand someone your packet. Shake a hand. Drive the four hours from Phoenix to the heli-base on the North Rim. Say, "Yes I can be in Africa in two weeks." You can figure out how you're gonna pull that off after you hang up the phone. Work harder, get luckier.
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