One day, while in the middle of a trip as a corporate pilot I found myself flying with a much younger captain. Just for anonymity, we’ll call him “Luke” as in Luke Skywalker- the original from the earliest scenes in the first Star Wars movie; young and a good pilot but far short on knowing what the big world of airlines was like, yet yearning to get into that first airliner cockpit as well as other things. Me, well I’d come into that corporate job with three airlines in my past, a bachelor’s degree in Aeronautical Science and a master’s degree in Who Gives A Shit, but Luke and I flew very well together- he was a lot of fun.
On this trip, however, we came off of an overnight at DFW and got a notice that our trip had been changed. Now we were headed to San Francisco to RON and pick up another customer the following afternoon. Looking at the dispatch Luke got giddy. Indeed our cheap-assed management had forgone our usual nice hotel in SanFran and stuck us in a crew hotel across from the United facility.
“Look’it this,” he nearly giggled, “have you ever been to this hotel?”
“Yeah,” I groaned, “been there a few times.”
“This place is crawlin’ with babe flight attendants,” he went on having not heard me at all.
I rolled my eyes behind my sunglasses. Having the reputation as the most happily married man in aviation, I was far more interested in how many cable channels the room’s TV received- and from what I could recall- this hotel only had about 9. Yet as we went to the airport, got the aircraft and headed for SanFran Luke went on and on about the babes at the hotel. His zero knowledge of how airline crews actually work together and hotel together, plus having apparently seen a few too many movies led him to the fantasy that this was some sort of a meat market as opposed to a crummy crew hotel.
“The hotel gym is where they all hang out,” he began to school me where I didn’t need to be schooled, “ya’ just walk by the place and ya’ can see ‘em in there.”
I told him that he could do whatever he wanted, but I was gonna slam-latch tonight.
“No way pal,” he insisted, “yer’ goin’ with me to the gym, I don’t wanna be there alone, it’ll look like I’m just there for the chicks.”
“But you ARE just there for the ladies,” I scowled, “right?”
“Well it’ll just be cooler if yer’ there too,” he insisted, “this is an order, you’ve gotta be there, you’ve gotta do this.”
Now, anyone who really has known me for a long time will tell you that the last thing in the world that you want to ever say to me is any version of, “…you’ve GOT to do this.” The results will not be happy for the person saying it. In fact I actually take someone saying, “I’m gonna kill you,” better.
Yet all the way to SanFran and on the van ride to the hotel, Luke said it over and over. Then he gave me a time to meet him at the hotel gym.
Now, gyms and I do not get along. I have, in fact, so many old hockey bangs and dings that even the treadmill set on low makes me hurt. I’ve always said that if you ever see me running down the street you’ll know that the guy ahead of me just stole my wallet, and the only time I even enter a hotel gym is if the pool runs out of towels. So, up to my room I went- slam-latch!
At the appointed time I get a call from Luke; he’s in the gym and there are “babes” there. He wants me in there RIGHT NOW and he’s not kidding.
I took out an old pair of cotton running shorts that were at least a decade out of style and put them on. Then I took my black frame sunglasses and using my glasses tool, popped out the lenses than added a band aid wrapped around the nose bridge to give the proper nerd effect. I wore my uniform T-shirt and my black socks and black uniform shoes. Dressed like a total dweeb (which isn’t far from my normal look anyhow)- I walked to the gym… fortunately, it was on my floor, so no elevator ride was involved. Bursting through the door I gave Luke an oh-shit moment that he’ll never forget- but that was just the start.
Sticking out my chest like a rooster I gave a hello to the three young ladies in the gym as I strutted over to the free weights. I proceeded to perform a bit that I saw Michael Richards do on the old TV show “Fridays” where his dweeb character “Dick” shows up in the gym and tries to impress the locals.
“Hey there girls,” I crowed, “I’m Wes and Luke here is my captain. We’re corporate jet-jocks” I boastfully sighed aloud. “He told me that I just HAD to be here and check out the (winking clownishly) action.”
Grabbing a 10 pounder I struggled just to make it move as I grunted loudly.
“Oh yeah,” I groaned straightening up and leaving the weight behind, “that felt great.”
By this time Luke had his head in his hands mumbling something about “gonna kill” me.
Next I moved on to the treadmill and bumbled frantically as the three young ladies stood in the corner and giggled with delight. Then I moved to the water cooler, filled a cup and poured it all over my neck and shoulders.
“Whooo” I groaned, “workin’ up a real sweat.”
Just as Luke stood up to grab me and drag me out of there I nabbed a towel and wrapped it around my neck and asked if I should go to my room where I wanted to be, or if he wanted to pump some more iron with me? Hanging his head he said quietly that I could go now.
Pointing a pistol finger at the young ladies I winked some more and said, “I’d give ya’ my room number… but it’s unlisted,” and I swaggered away.
They laughed and said “Bye, bye.”
Dinner that night was a fairly somber occasion as he said he never wanted to see me in the gym again. I said that was the idea in the first place. By the following morning he’d cooled down quite a bit as we sat in the lobby waiting for our van to the FBO. Crews were coming and going and suddenly from behind me stepped one of the three flight attendants who’d been in the gym. Luke just groaned. She was accompanied by another young lady FA as she addressed me,
“I was just telling Tammy here about your little show in the exercise room yesterday,” she snickered as she handed me her business card, “if you’re ever laid over in Denver, give me a call.” Her card had a phone number scrolled on the back. “Me too,” the other FA giggled as she handed me her card, also with a phone number on the back.
They both just giggled and headed out the door giving a flurty wave before getting on the UAL bus.
I thought Luke was gonna pass out.
After their bus drove off I took both cards and stuck them into his shirt pocket.
“Lesson in life,” I told him, “humor beats macho… every time.”