7 days into this Texas trip and it seems like I will be heading home on Thursday. I’m smiling. In the meantime, I am sitting here at the Marriott in Dallas until Monday afternoon before going back and forth to Amarillo for a few more days. So far I will say that it has been an interesting assignment. Out of 5 days of work, I have only been able to fly 2 days for a total of roughly 5 hours. Usually I log this much in one day. It is definitely a lot less tiring down here… in theory. For some reason, being stuck in a hotel room and watch TV all day long can get pretty boring after 12 hours. I was hoping to actually stay in Amarillo because the hotel as an indoor pool but due to a technical difficulty with one of our engines, we are parked in DFW for 2 days. Even though in this business you should always expect the unexpected, once again I let my guard down and left my suitcase with most of my clothes at the hotel in Amarillo. I am now convinced that every time I do this I end up stuck where I wasn’t supposed to. But this time, it makes for a good experience. Here is why. Couple days ago my bank blocked my debit card because of unusual activities which were nothing more than expenses over a few different states in a short amount of time. Who knew pilots fly into more than one state ? Anyway, in the mean time, I left my quarters in my suitcase in Amarillo but unfortunately the few clothes I carry with me in my pilot bag for emergency situation like this one, are in need of a good wash and since I don’t plan on walking in my underwear for three days. I just need to walk to the gas station to grab food but I have standards. I am not one of those people who go to Wal-Mart in my pajamas. I was left with only one option. To do my laundry the old fashion way as I had everything I needed here in my hotel room. Some soap, hot water and a sink. An hour later and some serious elbow grease and voila ! Everything is now drying on my shower curtain bar with some help from the blow dryer. I always miss the comfort of my own home but usually the washer-dryer are not on the top of my list. I probably won’t have to do it again as I should be home soon. Yes, I’m almost there.
It is Sunday morning and my bags are packed… again. In fact I begin to wonder if I should even unpack from now on. I should just keep a luggage with all my necessary travel items. It would save me some time and more importantly minimize my frustration feeling that I am leaving my family behind for another extended period of time. Unlike my usual week long trip between the Midwest and DHL’s cin-tucky hub, this time around I get to fly our Brasilia on a nuclear medicine run all the way to the headquarter in Burbank, CA. We will stop in Dallas and phoenix. This brings a nice change of pace as it almost feels like flying for a passenger airline. Mostly because instead of watching the sun rise after another grueling 12 hours of night shift, I will get to see it set over the southern part of Grand Canyon National park with the lighted sky of Los Angeles in the far background. It sure beats my monotonous Nebraska run. Unfortunately this quick 10 hour trip to the west coast does not end in warm socal. I get to airline back tomorrow to Dallas where I will be spending the next ten days or so flying back and forth to Amarillo. I say 10 or so because by experience it sometime turns out to be longer… a lot longer. Suddenly memories from my long temporary duty assignment in Midland, TX are rushing back. Although I am being told that the northern panhandle is vastly different scenery wise, as a TDY pilot on a budget, I am more concerned about avoiding eating at restaurants all the time, having enough quarters to be able to do laundry and hope the hotel has free wireless internet. In that thrifty spirit, if I am lucky enough, every morning I might even make it back to the hotel on time to grab a free breakfast !
The 10 days to get ready for the interview were not too much. In fact the only reason I had all the required documents ready for D-Day is because I had been planning for this moment for the last couple of years. Every candidate is asked to bring, among other things, driving records from all states listed as a residence in the application and all the college transcripts. Now imagine trying to gather this information during the end of year holiday season and it easily becomes a tedious and complicated task. Surprisingly enough, I think my biggest challenge was to update my paper logbook and making sure the numbers match the application and also my electronic logbook. I only had been procrastinating for about a year and a half… but considering I flew about 1500 hours in that period, this meant I had a lot of catching up to do, between writing the numbers in the right column, adding everything up and cross checking. About 15 hours later, I of course realized that there was 0.1 hour missing somewhere, or I thought. After sleeping on it, It became obvious that I just didn’t know how to add using a calculator. I had everything packed, organized, labeled, highlighted, filled out and more at least 5 days prior to the interview, but sure enough, the evening before leaving for Dallas, I noticed something missing in my choice of outfit. Shoes ! Good thing in this country you can buy pretty much anything 24/7. On my way to DFW, the following afternoon, I actually got to meet a check airman for Eagle who was on the same flight, and I got to pick his brain about life at eagle. He was very honest and open about the good and bad things and reinforced my decision to consider AE as a future employer. After a short night, I was ready to give it all and hopefully interest the panel enough to get an offer. I must say, I was very impressed by their organization. Everybody was very welcoming and professional. The process, which included an H.R and technical interview as well as a simulator check, was very smooth and efficient. I felt it was very straight forward and having reviewed all the necessary materials, It seemed fairly easy and I was confident that I could meet their standards. By early afternoon, I was done with the various stages and was given a meal voucher to be used in their cafeteria. Then after what seemed like a long time, I was asked to go to another room where, one of the interviewer, told me that American Eagle was giving me a pre-offer. I felt extremely relieved and excited and even though I could not really show it in an over obnoxious way like Tom Cruise jumping on a sofa on a talk show, I definitely quickly told the representative that I was very appreciative. With step one completed, I now have to wait for step 2 which includes a review of my information and interview grades by a board and step 3, which is the company medical examination. I am being told it can be more than a month before being done with step 2. The wait is going to be long, but on the late flight back to my home, I am already dreaming about flying the jet out of Chicago or Dallas and wonder if this Texan based company requires uniform to include shiny big belt buckle and boots