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?

12 August 2012

Get It In Writing

Below, I made a post about some pilots who came to work for us up in Washington this past summer, and how some of them didn't work out. I do try to be accurate and fair in my writing, but sometimes it's tough to report on events when you hear things third-hand. The guy I referred to as "Pilot D" replied, giving me his version of what went down.

What does this all mean to you, the reader? Very simply, clear communication is the key to happiness in life. If you enter into an agreement with someone, make damn sure that the terms are fully understood by everyone involved. Get it in writing if possible (an email is okay). Because when things blow up, as they sometimes do, the whole "he said/she said" thing gets mighty old for those of us who are not the original he and she.

Here is "Pilot D's" response, and my response to his response:

Pilot "D" here. Sorry Bob your account is not accurate as it pertains to my relationship with Golden Wings Aviation. To start off, I never mentioned pay once. Not once. I made the mistake to assume that what had been previously agreed upon during phone conversation, was being paid when I got there and getting the required 5 hours for PIC. Things went off the rails on the 3rd day of flying at around 4 hours in the cockpit Davey tells me how, and I quote "Dad was grumpy this morning and wasn't going to start paying me until I was put online as a pilot." Whatever that means. I told him I don't work for free and if they want to keep me you're going to have to pay me. At no time did he express that they were unhappy with my flying. After that I never heard from anyone, not to stay on or even an apology for wasting my time and money getting there. I only spoke with Davey, and negotiated the terms before coming up plain and simple. Now he wants to blame someone else for going back on his word? Its AMATEUR HOUR with those guys. I've invested too much time and money to not be paid for what I do. Any other career that expects that? No. Pilots are there own worst enemy when it comes to pay like we don't deserve to make at least a modest living. Its bullshit.

Pilot D! How happy I am that you responded. See, I've only heard two sides of this fiasco: The Smith's side and what I've heard from Mikey. I had not heard directly from you, and I appreciate that you took the time to give us your input.

But let's get a few things straight.

1) You may have negotiated the terms of employment with Davy (which is also what I heard), but as everyone knows - and I'm sure Mikey told you - it is Senior who writes and signs the checks. To say you were unaware of this, or that Davy can act unilaterally is silly. Everything Davy told you came straight from Dave Senior.

2) You believe that your pay was supposed to start when you got there. For his part, Davy *swears* that he told you on the phone that your pay would start when you got checked-out in the S-55, which it turned out was going to happen on the first day of drying: Tuesday morning (your fourth day at Golden Wings). I've known Davy long enough that I believe him.

3) You may have had that conversation about not working for free on the third day of your training (that would have been Monday). If you had decided to draw your "line in the sand" then (as we suspect) you should have left at that point. But you did not, did you? No.

According to Mark and Danny, the FACT is that you had another confrontation with Davy on *TUESDAY* morning just before going out to dry for real - which would have been your first day of work. Instead you refused to go flying and walked off the job. You told Mark to grab his headset, that he could fly with Davy, and then you went in and packed your stuff, never to be seen again.

3) You're right that pilots should be expected to be paid to fly. The company recognizes that there is quite a bit of expense involved in just getting to Brewster for a part-time summer job. (It cost me nearly $500 in gas/food/lodging just to get home to Florida this week.)

But companies should not be expected to invest a bunch of money in pilots who don't end up checking-out. For instance, Golden Wings paid, fed and housed those other two pilots for an ENTIRE MONTH and neither of them checked-out.  I can assure you that won't happen in the future - not with you, me, or anyone else.

(And by the way, Pilot B is still there, living in the Smith's pilot quarters and eating their food.)

The way I see it, you threw away a month or so of work for $450. If that seems like a fair trade to you, so be it. It doesn't to me. The Smiths have a reputation of helping people- not screwing them. (Ask Mikey if he intends to ever repay the 50 gallons of jet fuel that he "borrowed" from them when he was low. Or did he "forget?" What is jet fuel these days, $5.00 per gallon?)

Dave Senior is one of the most generous, kind-hearted men I know. He's treated me wonderfully. He's treated Mark wonderfully. Golden Wings took Mikey in and treated him like one of their own, giving him unrestricted access to their facilities, and inviting him to events (restaurant lunches) and barbecues at the hangar that nobody else got invited to. But I'm sure Mikey will only see the things *he* did for Golden Wings - because in his worldview he only sees the things he does for other people and usually discounts or ignores the things people do for him (like ohhhh, loaning him money repeatedly and let him and his dog live with them rent-free).

I have no doubt...in fact I guarantee!...that Dave Senior would have paid you for your first three days of training. And he probably would have paid to have the brakes on your truck fixed. Yeah, he's like that.

Your problem (and Mikey's problem as well) all seem to center around Davy. You guys don't like him? Fine. You want to make him the bad guy here? Hey, if you need to feel good about your decisions and actions, go for it. But by doing so you messed-up big time. You and Mikey both did. Making a pay demand at 6:00 in the morning and then walking off the job was simply unprofessional, man. Call it what you want, but that is what happened and it is what it is.

More than that, you made Mikey look bad too.

No, Golden Wings is not PHI. But calling it "amateur hour" is unfair. On Monday, after that conversation with Davy, you could have come to Danny...or me...or Mark...or even Senior(!) and asked what's up? But no, you just got pissed and decided right then that you weren't going to stay. That much is obvious. Oh well. If the company did not live up to your standards and expectations, what can I say? Perhaps there are other, better, less-amateurish companies that will appreciate your 1,200 hours of flight time and A&P ratings.

I may be wrong, but the way I see it is this: You came up to Brewster with the attitude and assumption that "something" would go wrong...that you were going to get screwed. And, self-fulfilling prophecies being what they are...you did. At least in your mind.

The reason I'm even putting all of this bullshit up on the blog is because I believe in communication, and I believe that there is "more to the story" here. There's another factor...an agenda that I'm missing. Maybe you didn't like flying the S-55. Maybe you just dislike Davy so much that you couldn't see sticking around and working with him. I don't know.
I'm really, really sorry that it worked out the way it did for everyone involved. I was truly looking forward to hanging out with you, having fun, eating some great food and going for some kick-ass motorcycle rides. And in the end, all I can do is wish you luck wherever life takes you next. 

Oh, and next time, get it in writing.


Anonymous said...

Man does this sound familiar. After 35 yrs. of running a FBO I can only say some things never change. I think the title is either "As the airport turns" or in this case "As the rotor turns". The never ending drama and attitudes of everyone involved are not missed by me! I will say the general camraderie at the field is missed terribly. Great friends and customers which over the years will always be remembered very fondly.
By the way, I am getting paid for this blog aren't I? I mean I do have time devoted to this post.
Serious note.... 1500 hrs. does not a professional make, nor does 10 yrs as an A&P. Been there, done that.
I can appreciate the problems with getting up the ladder, but I cannot tell you how many times over the years running the FBO we had the same deal. Take off your attitudes and Izod wear or whatever it is now-a -days, and get honest with your boss and your capabilities! I guarantee it will make things better for all involved.
Sorry for the rant but it touched a nerve....

Bob Barbanes: said...

Ahh Cass, those of us who've been in this business for any length of time have all seen the things you've described. We all met "those kind" of people. It comes with the territory, I guess.

As I wrote, we all knew and liked "Pilot D." And so we were extremely puzzled and distressed over his behavior. His switch from seemingly happy trainee to "I'M OUTTA HERE!" was like a switch being thrown. And that's hard to explain or reconcile. It was not rational. Afterward, we were all sitting around the hangar going, "...Why?"

Aviation attracts a certain type of misfit - and I am the prime example. We learn to accept each other's misfittedness because we usually see a bit of ourselves in those who are similarly afflicted with this disease.

This whole affair is/was upsetting for us. We hate to see anyone become so unhappy that he feels that the only option is to bail and not even try to work out a compromise. We don't understand that.

And again, the point of all of this is that the situation *could* have been averted if the communication on everyone's part had been better.

I'm not the greatest communicator. But when things go wrong because of a lack of communication that is fully or even partially my fault, I shrug and accept the fallout even if things work to my detriment. There's no point in getting angry with anyone else when some of the communication fingers point back at me.

Anonymous said...

Way to air someone else's dirty laundry. How about another post ripping on Maria Langer, whom you've NEVER EVEN MET? This blog is like a car accident you can't look away from. You're a real pro, Bob. A gossipy old women that's such a miserable slob he tries to spread it around. Go away.

Bob Barbanes: said...

Go away? Me? Hey, if you don't like this blog, here's a suggestion: Don't read it. In fact, do me a favor and don't read it, okay?

For the record, I haven't aired anybody's dirty laundry. I keep names out of this blog, in much the same way *you* do by bravely writing as "Anonymous" (as if I don't know who you are, heh). I never mentioned the woman's name from the previous post, nor have I mentioned the name of the guy who's the subject of this post.

I appreciate the fact that this blog entertains you so - the car accident analogy is probably appropriate. But that's my life...and that's aviation for you - full of odd/eccentric characters like the woman I wrote about previously (who *is* getting divorced by her husband, surprise-surprise) and the pilot who decided he didn't want to be a cherry-drying guy this summer.

So. You don't think I'm a "pro." Wow, some anonymous piece of shit on the internet insulted me! Awww, my feelings are hurt! You don't like this blog? Go screw yourself. In fact, just go away.

Anonymous said...

Bob you truly fit in at the smiths ,but you unfortunately were born a tool!! Get in the real world and shut the fuck up !!! Your making poeple think pilots are idiots.

Bob Barbanes: said...

The funny thing is that I know that I was born a tool. I do. The pathetic thing is that some people don't even realize that they are big...HUGE tools as well. "Oh no, not me!" they say. "I'M not a tool...but YOU are!"


You know, "Anonymous," some pilots *are* idiots. Just like some some surgeons, lawyers, policemen and bus drivers are idiots. Some politicians are idiots...even some presidents of the United States! But nobody is an idiot all the time...well, hopefully not.

After doing something completely stupid I'll call to talk to my friend Matt in Atlanta - on of my bestest friends in the whole world. The conversation often starts off something like this:

Matt: "Yo. What up?"

Me: "You know, I am an idiot."

Matt: "Yes, we know this."

Me: "Well I keep proving it to myself over and over."

Matt: "Yes, we do."

So maybe I am a full-time idiot, I don't know.

I *do* know that you shouldn't lump people into broad generalized categories. Because someone might assume that all of the commenters to my blog are idiots because one of them doesn't know the difference between "your" and "you're."

Thanks for playing!

Anonymous said...

Haha, I think this "Anonymous" is doing a pretty darn good job of making himself sound like a "full time idiot"

I have not been in this industry very long, (1500hrs), but I have been in it long enough to recognize a moron when I see one, I guess in this case, hear one. This guy sounds like the type of pilot that goes from job to job thinking he's "hot shit" who deserves to be paid like a 10,000 hour pilot, when, in reality, he always gets fired, or told to "fuck off" by the company because people don't want to deal with HIS bullshit!

One day he will pull his head out of his ass and realize he was the idiot all this time. Unfortunately by then, he will probably have pissed of the entire industry and ruined his chances at a "descent well paying job" because one thing I know, is this industry is WAY to damn small to be making enemies and demanding shit when YOU have not done shit to deserve it or much less prove yourself to deserve it!

Bob Barbanes: said...

Anonymous, I appreciate what you are saying. But I should point out a couple of things:

1) You are correct that this industry is *very* small. Word gets around quickly about pilots, both good and bad.

2) I don't think the guy in question, "Pilot D" is any of the things you described. Remember, we all knew and liked him. I just think there's something else going on in his life right at the moment. Maybe he just got some bad advice. Whatever.

3) I think the "anonymous" commenters who are taking me to task and calling me names for writing about all this are not the pilots I wrote about in those two posts. In fact, I know who one of them is (the one who writes really well and knows when to use the word "whom" which, let's face it, most normal helicopter piiots wouldn't have a fuckin clue).

As for those commenters, it takes a special kind of idiot to go on a blog - a blog put up by a person who uses their real name - and make horrible, insulting comments...anonymously. Oh yeah, that's real mature...not. And I think real, normal adults understand this.

It's really easy to leave nasty anonymous comments on the internet. And the people who specialize in this probably get a big kick out of it and consider themselves oh-so-clever. "Got him good!" they probably laugh to themselves. Kind of pathetic, really.

So, "Anonymous," thank you for your comment. Fly safely ;)