Saturday, December 01, 2012
I went to a birthday party last night for a good friend. I believe I was the youngest person there. And I had been retired the longest. That's how it came out that I was an air traffic controller. It always comes out. Sooner or later.
Being a controller still holds a certain mystique. People always want to hear about it. I mean, there I was in a room full of people that hold doctorates and I'm the one getting all the questions. And when someone asked how long I'd been retired it hit me. Today is December 1st. I've been retired 6 years, today.
So, of course, after basking in the faded glory of having been an air traffic controller last night, I came home, went to sleep and dreamt of airplanes. I was working my favorite sector -- WILKES. North of CLT -- 10,000 feet and below. It's really nothing more than an Approach Control for Hickory, NC -- in the Center (ARTCC). And, of course, some knucklehead at 7,000 decides to make a 360º turn for no apparent reason. And that puts him with another airplane at 7,000. And they almost hit. I have to issue a couple of "immediate" altitude changes and a prayer. And the sector falls apart.
The next thing I know I've got airplanes inside of GSO, CLT and ROA without handoffs. I'm alone of course. How did it ever become the norm that controllers work alone? What a nightmare. I could feel that cold, empty spot in my gut and I knew Panic was trying to rise to the surface again.
But salvation shows up in the form of my buddy Skip. Skip loved working the WILKES sector as much as I did. Our styles were as different as night and day. I was straight by-the-book and he was as laid back as you could be. But we could work together. It was a comfort to see him again. Unfortunately, Skip didn't survive being a controller.
Anyway, pretty soon, the sector is back to normal and an AF tech comes to put some greenery (floral-type stuff) behind the sector to block out the sunlight from the newly installed windows (you could open them, let in fresh air and everything) in the control room. Don't ask me what all that means. I was a controller, not Dr. Freud.
There's no moral to this story. It's just a report on your possible future. Happy Anniversary to me. Thanks for reading.
December 1, 2012