While training as a pilot in Philippine Airlines Aviation School in Manila, there was a prominent signboard in the administration office corridor that said something to the effect...
'THROUGH THIS HALLWAY WALK THE GREAT AIRMEN OF TOMORROW'
Wow! Great airman of tomorrow!
It felt good to walk the corridor with that sign hanging overhead.
A sticker in a Philippine Airlines pilot car proclaimed...
'PILOTS DIE WITH THEIR VICTIMS, DOCTORS BURY THEM'
Well, both pilots and doctors work under extreme stressful conditions, I would say.
Maybe for pilots, worse.
Particularly, on a long flight that departs at around midnight local time.
Can you imagine the suffering the body is undergoing?
The body wants to SLEEP, but the brain says NO!
And if you don't click with your co-pilot, huh... a few hours of boredom.
What if he has bad breath?
Worse, if you were a First Officer flying under a foul mouthed Captain...
Yet, you cannot goof off... you must be alert at all times.
Who knows, when suddenly some crazy idiot decides to hijack the plane?
Uh, this is tough business indeed.
But pilots live glamorous lives, don't you think?
They earn mega bucks, for one...
They fly everywhere around the world... to all those exotic destinations...
And they look manly, macho... (Oh oh, please don't ask me about Captain Azizi, the well-known financial consultant-author, and my 'senior' course mate at Manila)
Pilots are surrounded by long legged pretty, stewardesses... (I'm dreaming here...)
But still, my mum never wanted me to become a pilot.
She pleaded when I packed my bags to leave the kampong.
I was 120% sure as she desperately forked out her last joker...
'YOU WILL CRASH THE PLANE AND DIE!'
Like all young bulls, I wasn't afraid of any tiger.
Doctors? Well, don't know much about their work life.
They appear to be on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
They handle our fragile lives, just like pilots do sometimes.
I salute them as I do pilots.
While in secondary school, my dad wanted me to become a medical doctor.
But dad, that ugly, warty toad in the Biology class... I could never look at it, not to mention dissecting it!
Hmmm... let's see.
Taught for eight years at the undergraduate and graduate levels in the School of Economics.
Sometimes, only sometimes ok, when I cancel the class, the students sprung up in joy, shouting in unison, BANZAI! BANZAI!! (Long live Teacher! Long live Teacher!!)
Is there any job where you cut off the service (I repeat, sometimes, only sometimes) and the customers go wild with delight?
Imagine the airline captain announcing...
'Ladies and gentlemen, I have a sore finger and my hangover is still there. So, no flight this evening. Sorry, next week, ok?'
Just kidding...just kidding...
Now, visualize a typhoon coming. It is here!
Powerful variable crosswinds at thirty... forty... fifty... or sixty kilometers an hour...
In the departure lobby, four hundred passengers are waiting to board your flight.
All cargo are stored and secured.
Would you take off?
Would you cancel the flight?
You (actually that counter lady) make the announcement... the passengers go mad...
Your airline apologizes... furnishes them hotel rooms, food, transport, and telephone calls to call their loved ones...
Headquarters call you up for interrogation.
The flights of other airlines took off. Why not yours?
Do you know how much loss was made by this cancellation?
What damage was done to the airline's reputation?
There you sit; quivering... shitting bricks under the killer glares of the management hawks.
And you pray to God...
Please... please, no more typhoons when I am about to take off, ok?
You take it from here...