Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Peanut Butter Crackers


By Mark W. Danielson


When it comes to flying for an airline, everything is seniority based. Presumably, every new pilot that's hired is equally qualified and will eventually make captain. In most cases, this system works well because it eliminates age, sex, race, and religion bias. Your date of hire not only determines when you can upgrade seats, meaning higher pay, but it also determines your monthly flight schedule. You see, pilots bid on their flight schedules each month, so while those who are very senior can hand-pick their trips, the bottom-feeders get whatever’s left over. As such, every junior pilot can’t wait for those senior to them to retire or bid onto a different aircraft so they can move up in seniority. Of course, no one likes to hear about their fellow pilots dying, but whenever such news breaks out, pilots can’t help but to check the deceased’s seniority number. Trust me, as morbid as this may sound, it happens all the time.

Of course, seniority knows no borders. On layovers, while crossing busy streets, senior pilots are expected to cross first. That way, if anything happens, the junior pilot will move up a notch. And while a senior pilot may remind a junior pilot to fasten his/her seat belt, you’ll rarely find a junior pilot reciprocating. No sir, no ma’am; this way, if something bad happens, they’ll move up another notch. It’s the cold hard truth.

Now, we all know about the recent peanut butter scare about salmonella that's left yet another industry crippled. Among the reportedly tainted products are peanut butter crackers; the six pack that makes for a great snack. Give me one of those and a Diet Coke and I'm good for at least three hours. That is, unless I get food poisoning--and die. I've had several bouts with food poisoning overseas, and I'm sure it would be a horrific way to go.

So, with seniority in mind, I have to wonder is this why my first officer kept offering me his six pack of peanut butter crackers? Did I mention that he’s a farm boy from South Carolina where they grow lots of peanuts? Now, I’m not accusing him of anything, but I do find it interesting that he always placed them in plain site, but never once touched them on any of our ten flights together. Later, he jokingly said that he offered these crackers to all of his captains. Hmmm. Something ain’t right here. Of course, I can’t be positive that he was trying to poison me until the next scare comes along--say with cheese crackers. Then if he offers me cheese crackers instead of peanut butter, I’ll know for sure. Until then, I’ll willingly chock up his cracker offer as an act of kindness, but I’ll still bring my own snacks and drink water from a sealed bottle.

6 comments:

Jean Henry Mead said...

Ohmygosh, Mark. You're not kidding, are you? What a great plot for a future mystery novel. . . (Stay away from crackers and busy streets.)

Ben Small said...

Mark, that's hilarious. Good job! Maybe you should lay some out in the sun and offer them to some of your seniors... :<)

Mark W. Danielson said...

Ben, you wouldn't believe how much radiation we get in these airplanes. Each ocean crossing is the equivalent of a chest X-ray, and the air is so dry, we set out plates of hummus just to see how long it takes to form a canyon. I may not be able to control the enviromental factors, but at least I can choose my peanut butter crackers:) Of course, there are plenty of pilots senior to me . . .

Beth Terrell said...

The salmonella peanuts were a scary thing for me. I love peanut butter. Peanut butter crackers, peanut butter fudge, peanut butter balls...is this the better mousetrap we keep hearing about?

Mark W. Danielson said...

Beth, did you ever read Michael Crichton's State of Fear? His premise is there will always be a state of fear, whether it be the ebola virus, bird flu, weapons of mass destruction, or . . . salmonella tainted peanut butter. Granted, peanut butter may not top list of world worries, but it certainly made people afraid. I may have refused my FO's crackers, but I still eat Jiffy Extra Crunchy on toast:)

Beth Terrell said...

I had peanut butter crackers just yesterday:)

There's always something to be afraid of, but it takes too much energy to feel that way for very long.