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?

06 May 2014

Switching Hats Again

And just like that, the Great Cab-driving Adventure of 2014 is over. I turned in the cab today. On Thursday morning I leave for Washington State. Flying up this time, and yes I know I've previously promised that I will NEVER fly again on the airlines. But to be honest, I just wasn't keenly looking forward to another 3,000-mile drive. A younger me would not have hesitated; this me just wasn't feeling it.

This will be my fourth season as a cherry-drying pilot. I'm excited about returning to the Pacific Northwest...seeing all my friends again who are now becoming "old friends." Mikey, the son I never had, is already up there, living and working full-time for an operator in Olympia. He's already eagerly planning escapades and shenanigans, most of which are sure to involve alcohol abuse (hopefully mild). Weather forecasters are predicting a dryer-than-usual summer, so who knows how much flying we'll do.

Our company sort of committed to a local club of glider pilots that we'd use our plane to tow their planes aloft this summer, and I sort of got nominated to be the tow-pilot, although I'm not sure how or why I agreed to such a thing...perhaps it was in the heat of some of the aforementioned alcohol abuse. Glider-towing is hardly exciting work. But it is different from helicopter flying and I do like exploring other aviation avenues.

I know I promised you some cab-driving stories, which have been woefully lacking. I really do enjoy driving a taxi here in Pensacola, where the majority of my business comes from the military. It makes me so happy that I don't drive a cab in a city full of...well, ordinary civilians.

Nobody has gotten sick in the cab so far, although other drivers have not been so fortunate. I try to not stay out too late on weekends. Just after midnight, people are still happy-drunk but not yet plastered. However when it gets past two a.m. you see the real drunks come out...the ones who've been drinking since eight p.m. and are now hammered. I try to take my last trip around two and then head to the house.

The other night while cruising downtown I picked up a couple of foreign military helicopter pilots (Jordanian, I think) who were stationed at Ft. Rucker, Alabama undergoing some training. They'd come down to Pensacola for a fun weekend. I'd driven one of them before, and he recognized me. They were drunk and horny, two qualities of passengers that make me very uneasy. Again, like last time the one who'd ridden with me before asked that I take him and his buddy to a strip club. It was a little after two a.m. and it had been a relatively slow night. Over the radio I heard driver after driver going "10-7" (out of service). I was fixing to knock off as well.

The strip club I took them to was kind of remote - not walking distance from anywhere. They worried about getting a taxi back to their motel and wondered if I would be working for another couple of hours? "Fat chance," I thought to myself, but assured them...promised them that someone would be available to pick them up. But I wasn't sure of that at all. As I drove home, even more drivers called it quits, leaving only one or two still in service. I was asleep almost as soon as my head hit the pillow, so I didn't hear whether they got picked up or not by our company. If they didn't...well, fortunately I'll be gone for the next few months and won't have to see them again if they come down for another fun weekend of scamming babes in Pensacola, Florida.

Mikey's going to pick me up on Thursday afternoon when my flight lands in Wenatchee, WA. He'll probably already have a bottle of rum, a bottle of Coke, a bag of ice and some red Solo cups. If not, the liquor store is right on the way out of town.

I have a feeling it's going to be another crazy summer. And I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to it!


BG (Ret) said...


I envy you your summer job. After flying helicopters for over 42 years (Including the S-55's bigger brother the S-58 (H-34))I no longer have a medical but can fly Sport Planes J-3's, Aeronca Champ's and so on. Thirty two years in the Army and eleven with the FAA.

Bob said...

Shoot, Bob . . . I'm going to be at the beach near Pensacola with my family week after next and was just about to get permission from the boss to meet up with you. Have a great summer and look forward to hearing more great stories.

Bob Barbanes: said...

Well BG, we do have an Aeronca Champ in the "fleet," so if you're in the neighborhood, stop on by and we'll take her up!

And Bob, yeahhhhh, I knew you were coming down this way- bad timing that my departure got pushed up a bit. But I promise that we'll meet up soon ;)