Commuting out of ORD, I had snagged a jumpseat on a United 757. The captain was a highly friendly fellow who was fairly senior and his FO was just getting ready to go to captain school for the 75 and seemed like a pretty cool guy as well. We blasted out of ORD and as we leveled off at cruise one of the Flight Attendants came into the cockpit. This FA was... well... as they like to say "OG" or openly gay. Now it is a vast misconception that all male FAs are gay. In fact a large portion of them are not. I once had a flight student who was a male FA at American and he liked to say that the way you get laid a lot in life is to be a straight guy working as an FA. Anyhow, the OG-FA politely asked if we'd like anything to drink.
Offering the crew something to drink at cruise was a standard practice in the pre-9/11 era when cockpit doors did not have to be barred and locked and then welded shut from the inside during flight. I said I was okay and didn't need anything, the FO echoed my answer and then put his hand over his mouth as if to conceal a smirk. The captain, however, just looked straight out the front window and stiffly said "Nothing, thank you." The OG-FA then left with a friendly "See ya'." An instant later, the captain reached over and hit the FA intercom button. When the lead FA answered the call he said sternly, "Cone in here please." By now the FO was looking out his window as if to say "I don't wanna see this."
In about a heartbeat later the lead FA came in and the captain directed her to close the door. "I don't care what you do for the rest of this flight," the captain snarled as he looked at her in a hateful manner, "but you keep that f%$&ing faggot out of my cockpit!" The stunned and clearly offended lead FA simply murmured "ok" and left, slamming the cockpit door.
No sooner had the echos from the slammed cockpit door faded than both the captain and the FO burst into laughter. The captain turned to me and saw that I was a bit stunned and began to sing "I'm goin' to charm school, I'm goin' to charm school, I'm goin to charm school..." The FO turned wiping his eyes and said "You sick bastard, I don't believe you just did that." The captain began to dance in his seat "I'm goin' to charm school, I'm goin' to charm school..."
"I'm missin' somethin' here." I mumbled. The FO decided to fill me in. You see, they can't fire United pilots for something like that. Instead, they take them off the schedule and send them to sensitivity training... in Denver... for a week. "He's done this before." the FO explained, "What was it last time?" the FO asked the captain. "Ski season." the captain replied happily. "And before that?" the FO went on. "Prime golf weather, just like now." the captain replied with a large knowing smile. "It works great," the captain explained to me, "You insult some fruity FA that you're probably never gonna see again, they send you to charm school in Denver, you spend the days learning charm and the rest of the time golfing or on the slopes. All ya' have to do is go in acting like Archie Bunker and pretend to slowly turn into Alan Alda by the end of the week. You get a passing grade and go back to work. You still get yer' guarantee, so you don't lose any money and you get an all expense paid vacation in Denver just to attend a bullshit sensitivity class."
"But... three times?" I asked. "Hey, I keep fallin' off the wagon." the captain smirked, "Can't help it, must be a defect in my personality."
A contrail could be seen high up in the eastern Ohio sky and at the very point of it were three pilots snickering like schoolboys over the concept of charm school. You can lead a pilot to charm school, but you can't make him sensitive.