Who Am I?

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A nobody; a nitwit; a pilot; a motorcyclist; a raconteur; a lover...of life - who loves to laugh, who tries to not take myself (or anything) too seriously...just a normal guy who knows his place in the universe by being in touch with my spiritual side. What more is there?

08 March 2011

The Art of Quitting

It seems that I cannot even quit a job properly. You might find this odd, since as everyone knows (and Matt will gladly testify), I’m a pretty good quitter. In fact, I can be a hell of a quitter!

There comes a time when you get to the end of the road at every job. I’m there now. My original plan was to be done with this one at the end of January. But then…you know how plans can change: 1) My boss announced that he’d be gone pretty much all the month of February; 2) My mechanic announced that we had some major maintenance to do on the ship and asked for my help. So I agreed to stay until the end of February. That was the date I told the boss he could take me off the payroll. I did allow that I’d help find my replacement, as well as help with flights on a “contract” or daily basis until someone could be hired.

It’s funny, but sometimes life really doesn’t care what you want. Best line I've ever heard: You want to hear God laugh? Tell him your plans.

Of course the work on the helicopter is taking longer than we expected. This means that I can’t fly with any of the prospective replacements. And I need to fly with them. For one thing, I want to make sure that whoever takes my place is a halfway decent pilot. Aside from that, when we do fly we go into some pretty…umm…strange places and there’s no guarantee that every helicopter pilot will think it’s cool.

So I was sitting in the boss’s office the other day, talking about the trip he just took in his new jet. (I should say here that the market for used business jets is horrible right now. Many are trading at 50% of what they were worth just two years ago. My boss got himself an awesome deal on one.) We were comfortable with each other - something that hasn't been true lately, especially in the days leading up to my "resignation." But it was like old times. Hey, I like the guy - I just don't want to work for him anymore.

However, in the course of our conversation, he asked if I’d stick around for a bit, since we have a couple of important flights in the helicopter planned in the next month or so, and he would prefer that I do the flying rather than some new guy who he hasn’t had a chance to get to know and trust. Like I dummy I said yes. And he asked if I would fly on the weekend of his wedding, which is in the middle of May. Again I said yes. Like a dummy. I’m trying to delicately extricate myself from this job, and it’s not working.

Typically it’s not like this. Typically, you put in your two-week notice and then - Thanks, it’s been great! - you leave. Or you go in, throw your ID card and keys down on the boss’s desk and say, “I quit!” and walk out. But that’s not how it’s working out for me. I’ve enjoyed this job, no doubt, but there are also very real reasons that I want to leave. But I cannot just say, “See ya!” and walk out. I’ve worked pretty closely with this guy for three and a half years. Nearly every time that helicopter has flown, he’s been in it, right there in the seat next to me. We may not be close friends (we are still boss and employee after all), but we’ve become close nonetheless. I feel a responsibility to leave him in good hands.

My mistake was in telling the boss that I wasn’t going to another job – only that I just wanted to stop doing this one. He’s not making it easy. He’s been offering alternative arrangements, most of which involve me not flying the helicopter so much. I tell him they are “worth thinking about” but honestly I’m just being polite. The reality is that psychologically I’ve already moved on.

Hopefully we’ll get the helicopter up and running either by the end of this week or the beginning of next. I’ll fly with some of the guys who’ve sent their resumes, and the boss will select one of them. For a short time, the new guy will have the benefit(?) of flying with me and seeing the way I do things. Hey, we all fly a little differently. There are a million right ways to fly.

I'm a competent enough pilot, I'll admit that, but I’m not saying my way is perfect or even the only way. It’s just the way my boss is used to. I am his first helicopter pilot. And believe me, I've worked very hard to convince the boss (in my own subtle way) that I am the best helicopter pilot in the world - past, present or future. I feel sorry for the poor bastard that takes my place, having to sit there while the boss glowers at him from the “copilot” seat, saying, “That’s not how BOB does it! Why aren’t you doing it the way BOB does it?” I mean, can you imagine? I can. In fact, if I were that guy, I imagine that I'd get to the point where I'd turn to the boss and say, "F@#% Bob! He's not your pilot anymore!"

So there you have it, I’m kind of stuck. In a way, I wish I did have something definite to go to. It would make things a lot easier. Quitting is an art, and it turns out I'm not much of an artist.


Capt. Schmoe said...

Well, at least you won't have to rename your blog for a little while.

Redlefty said...

We're in the same phase, man.

I gave up my position in December and thought I'd hang on a little while and do odd jobs for the Chairman while I found the next thing.

Yesterday he asked me to run three divisions and basically lead the company while he's out this summer fighting battles in Congress.

You're right -- life doesn't care one bit about our plans!

Greybeard said...

Gotta respect both of you for hangin' on and showing a good attitude. I hope your bosses are also taking note and treating you right.
It's a scary time to be leaving a decent paying job, isn't it?
I turned 64 in January and had intended to retire two years ago, but then the election didn't turn out the way I hoped and the country's future started looking a little iffy to me. Now I'm glad I stuck it out.
I hope you both have something solid to grab just around the corner. A paycheck is a wonderful thing.

Bob said...

Bob -- maybe you're irreplaceable?! Just keep collecting the pay and phase out.

Michael -- thanks. I know I need your boss fighting for us in Congress!!!!

Bob Barbanes said...

Irreplaceable?? BAAHAHAHAHAHAHAH! Bob, yer killing me! What have we been taught all our lives? NO ONE is irreplaceable! Not even me. It is nice of you to suggest it though. I appreciate that.

I'm not irreplaceable, but it does speak to the relationship that develops between a pilot and his passenger(s). They (the passengers) trust us with their lives. Over time, that trust transforms into something deeper - something comfortable they don't want to let go of. They know that they'll eventually trust another pilot as much as they trust me - they just don't want to deal with it until it's absolutely unavoidable.

I know I'm not irreplaceable. Far from it. I've got 30+ resumes from guys, many of whom could take my place and my boss wouldn't even miss a beat.

On the other hand, I know I provide a valuable service to my boss that he has come to appreciate more now that I've announced I'm leaving. Funny how that is.

Greybeard, I cannot speak for Michael, but I suspect that he feels the same way I do: God will guide me. See, I have faith- true faith. I know...absolutely KNOW that God will guide me in whatever direction I'm supposed to take. He will give me the courage and wisdom to make the right decisions, and the strength to see them through.

I know this because it has been true all through my life. It is why I do not worry one bit about "what comes next." I don't know what it is, but I know it'll be good. As Joel Osteen says over and over, when you put your faith and trust in God, He'll take you places you never could imagine.

To a non-believer (like that Canadian atheist kid who used to blog from Honduras - I forget his name now) such a philosophy might seem silly or frivolous or even stupid. But there are forces in the universe we cannot hope to understand. And I'll leave it at that.