The Parables Of The Traveling Wife

737 Cockpit Overhead Panel

What you see above us, is the overhead cockpit panel of the Boeing 737. None of them seem  exactly the same, and this one is no different. In any event, that panel is not what I’m going to tell you about, even though all of those sparkly lights look quite festive.

This happened to be the exact view, that my associate and I had while waiting out a 45 minute gate delay on the way to Milwacko (Milwaukee to you civilians). Thunderstorms were moving through the departure corridors out of Phoenix, so we plugged our earpieces in, listened to Clearance Delivery for our cue, turned up the AC, reclined our seats, and proceeded to monitor the outside air temperature on our overhead until we could make ourselves useful.

Delays are not a problem for airline pilots, because we really don’t care. We make do.

Now understand, contorting ourselves into such a precise horizontal position takes time, effort, and years of experience to do properly. Once you’re there, you don’t want to bother to “go vertical” unless you’re really ready to make preparations to push-off the gate.

So when the first flight attendant walked into the cockpit, she  looked like this ….. sort of.

Attractive young stewardess.

Well, not exactly like this. She wasn’t that new either, so she’d lost that particular “attitude” long ago. Inexplicably, she didn’t seem happy to see us. As things turned out, it went downhill from there.

It was apparent that she wanted to talk to me about something, but an exchange of midwestern agrarian pleasantries is usually expected before getting down to business.

“Please don’t ask us to get up. What can we help you with?” She scowled at me like I was something a foot lower, that should have been skittering towards a dark corner. Well this isn’t starting well, I thought to myself.

“Your wife’s in the back of the aircraft,” said she.

“Oh,” said I.

“She’s in first class!”

“Well that’s nice. I’m glad they could find a seat for her.” I’m usually not used to being treated this way by FA’s, especially when I’m being so charming. It obviously wasn’t working, because I could tell that her face still had a frown that wasn’t turned upside down, even from my semi-inverted position. She continued to scowl at me.

“She’s gorgeous,” the young lady opined.

“Oh. How nice of you to say that. I shall definitely let her know that you were impressed.” Still scowling.

“What’s a woman like THAT, doing with a man like YOU?” and this time her demeanor really did show that she was just as perplexed, as annoyed.

This was a much more probing conversation than I was expecting in a pre-departure environment. I waited a bit before I answered, as I didn’t want her to think I was commenting off the cuff.

“Well, perhaps I have qualities that aren’t immediately apparent.”

She promptly reversed course, stomped out of the cockpit and slammed the door.

Blessed silence had returned to our sanctum, and we basked in it for perhaps a full minute.

Another minute ticked by, with only the sound of cool air passing through the cockpit vents. “Well what, do you suppose, is the matter with her?” I hazarded to ask.

The other pilot responded with a gesture amounting to the beginning of a shrug, and rolling slightly to making himself more comfortable. “Dunno.”

This time 30 seconds passed. The topic was getting more interesting. “Ah, I know what it is. The poor thing obviously wants me desperately, but after seeing my lovely wife, she knows that it can never be.”

“No doubt. Poor thing indeed.”

We talked a bit more about the likelihood of our flight attendant providing either food or drink to the cockpit  during our 3+ hour flight. We concluded that the probability was decidedly low, approaching single digits, if not less.

We were correct. She never appeared in the cockpit. Fortunately, being airline professionals, we had built up our stock of crackers and bottled water for just such an event.

It is not for nothing that we are so highly respected (and paid).


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