Monday, July 03, 2006

Pilots are mind readers

One day some time ago I found myself deadheading back to my base.  That is when I catch a ride home and sit in the cabin with all the passengers.  As I was waiting to board I was standing next to a mother and her son.  The young boy was about 8 years old and was going to travel by himself.  The mother was very upset and crying.  The agent took the boy down to the jet and as they stepped into the jet way the boy turned around and waved to his mother.  She started crying harder.  I was in my uniform and approached the mother asking her about her son.  This was to be their first time away from each other.  He was going to visit his father.  I asked the mother if she wanted me to sit next to her son.  She was grateful and thanked me.  I then asked her many questions about her son.  Where did he go to school, what was his teachers name, best friends name, favorite food,  best movie ever, sports stuff, what did his room look like, etc, etc.

I then proceeded onto the jet and found him sitting in a row all by himself.  I asked if I could sit in the row with him and he politely said yes.  He was reading a book but he kept stealing glances at me.  Finally I told him I was a pilot and going home, that if he had any questions about flying he could ask me as I knew EVERYTHING.  I told him that we pilots have brains that go beyond the capabilities of the human mind, so focused are we on flying that we can actually see things just before they happen.  In addition to that we can also read minds which we must do constantly while flying so we don’t fly into each other.  If I know what the other pilots out there are thinking and they know what I am thinking then it is very simple to avoid each other.  He was very, very skeptical.

To prove my point I asked him to think of something I could not possibly know about him as he agreed we had never met before.  I said, “How about if you concentrate on what your favorite soup is?”  I stared at him, right into his eyes, for about 10 seconds and said, “My guts are telling me its tomato and rice.”  He just stared at me.  Then I said, “Do you like those little goldfish crackers with your soup?”  He nodded his head.  I then asked him to think of where he goes to school and what he does in an average day, who he talks to and what subjects he likes.  I rubbed the sides of my head as if in intense concentration, my eyes closed, mumbling to myself.  I said to him, “Is your teachers name Mrs. Candish?”  “Yes” he said.  “I think you like math and that girl that sits behind you”, I said.  His face turned red.  I told him about Sandy Schick, the girl I liked but never talked to in the 4th grade and what a big mistake that was.  My mind is telling me that you like baseball.” I said.  He said, “How do you know all this?”  I pointed to my wings and told him it just goes along with the job.  I then told him he needed to clean his room more as his mother would appreciate it, that his best friend Robert was not as smart as he was, and that he should do a better job of hiding his diary that was currently under his mattress.  He stared at me and said, “OK”.  

At this point I was not remembering all the other information his mother had given me so I told him that I was exhausted after using my brain so intently.  I closed my eyes and woke up during descent.  Just before we landed I asked him if he had any questions for me.  He asked me if I knew what he was going to be when he grew up.  I said that I did not know as my abilities could only handle the present and the immediate future.  “If I knew the future, I never would have asked my ex-wife out on a date”, I said.  I looked at him and told him that based on what I was seeing in him now; he could be anything he wanted to be as long as he worked hard and never gave up on his dreams.  That seemed to satisfy him as he sat back in his chair and smiled.  After we landed I had to get going so I shook his hand, wished him the best and told him to call his mother to let her know he was OK because I could see she missed him and loved him .  I grabbed my bags and left.  He should now be in high school, I think of him often and wonder if he ever thinks of that genius pilot he met.  Be safe, FlyGuy


Anonymous My Sping On Things said...

You know, in this world of uncertainty, fear, and out and out plain icky news we read and hear daily within the media. This was by *far* one of the *best* things I have read in a long long time.

I am sure not only does his Mom think about you -- I am guessing you made a huge impression on this young man as well.

I found you as I was poking around various air traffic control sites, listening to air traffic, as I am afraid of flying. I figured if indeed I could learn about how careful air traffic controllers are, perhaps I would pass out every time I attempt to board an airplane.

Great site:)

11:34 AM  
Anonymous Jay said...

That was a great story - I always have a hard time at the gate when I see a parent sending their kids off for the first time to fly by themselves.

Especially when I see that stereo-typical tough guy dad get choked up and teary eyed. I have to curl up my toes really hard to not start to get choked up myself.

The best time though was when I went up to the gate to meet a brother and sister that were flying to see their dad for summer. Mom was all choked up and I assured her that they were in good hands and we would have a ton of fun on the way.

We turned to walk away and my 2 new friends turned to their mom, waved and shouted "I love you!"

This got mom even more choked up so I had to try and break the ice there a bit as I wanted her to leave with a smile so I said, "Love ya too!"

Sure enough she grinned said, "thanks love you back!"

12:00 PM  
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9:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just 2 words. Cheers man.

3:59 AM  
Blogger Jane said...

Great story and it was so nice of you. It gives real human touch to a pilot (not saying pilots are not:-). I was in Venice yesterday on my way back to San Francisco via Munich and was chatting with 2 pilots. They told me they have no hats at their company otherwise they will put their wife and kids picture there.

I read your blogs and find they are very interesting. Thank you for sharing!!

6:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dude, you sound like a guy I grew up with. He would do things like that even as a teenager. He was a fantastic influence on me as a young man and it would seem that you carry on that tradition today.

10:14 PM  
Anonymous an English Pianist said...

There are some acts of human nature that bring a tear to the eye.

6:04 AM  

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