Thursday, July 31, 2008

All Systems No

Yesterday was my first time up in the KDWN "Super Chopper" or whatever it's called. Back when I was hired as the SuperCommuter, the goal was eventually to have my do reports from the air. Nothing's ever simple, though, and my move to the helicopter has been plagued by technical difficulties- none provided by the helicopter, thank God. Yesterday's test was deemed "not broadcast quality", and until it's determined why that is and more testing is done, it looks like my theme song will continue to be "King of the Road". Having a helicopter for traffic is an expensive endeavor for a broadcast company, especially in this day and age where the number one priority seems to be finding ways to cut costs. These constant delays are providing increasing, understandable frustrations among the brass, and we all know which way it flows once the bluster comes down from the top. It hasn't come down on me yet, which tells you how low I am on this particular totem pole.

We did go up for a while, flying circles over a freeway section in Henderson. The chopper is a two-seater, and room is at a premium. My side is wide open, so you can bet that I'm triple checking my seat belt so I wouldn't tumble out. Overall, it was a fun experience, even though there are about 100 different things to learn. Unfortunately, the person giving me the instructions was the station's engineer, and anyone who's worked with a broadcast engineer knows that it's impossible to have a normal conversation with them. They're like politicians with tool belts. In a way, it's nice that I'm treated as a peer and talked to like I'd have a clue about what an FSP valve does, or what the function of a flipjack is. By the time we were up for the test flight, and away from all the instruction, falling out of the side was a viable option to avoid any more lessons.

So, for now, the helicopter sits, and I drive. I understand the growing frustrations, but I'm cool with driving for the foreseeable future. My near miss of earlier in the week is still with me, and that's brought an almost unreasonable calm over me. My SuperCommuter shifts have been relaxing, easy, stress-free. My attention has been completely on the road, not on trying to text Pumpkin, check my e-mail or instant message The Boss while driving. Two hands on the wheel, surveying front, back, right and left at all times.

Funny, but I'm also more calm at home lately. The Cubs are putting the finishing touches on a four game sweep of Milwaukee, which under normal circumstances would make my want to consume a pint of turpentine. Yet, I'm handling it with- here's that word again- calm. It doesn't seem to matter as much. There's nothing I can do to help them win or, in what might be a better way to say it- keep them from losing. It's out of my hands. I may as well just grab a book and set a spell, not sweat a spell. It's said that one of the hardest things to do is to keep your head when all around are losing theirs and, right now, mine is screwed on nice and tight.

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