Tuesday, April 3, 2012

He's Gonna Blow!

If you've been anywhere near the news last week you heard about Clayton Osbon, a great name for a serial killer if there ever was one. But Clayton didn't kill anyone, at least none that we know of. He was the JetBlue pilot that went off the rails and had to be subdued by an air marshall and several passengers.

If I had been aboard the plane and witnessed the Captain running down the aisle, jabbering on about Al Qaeda, the Apocalypse, and the meaninglessness of life, I think I would been reaching for the drink cart and snapping the tops off those tiny bottles of Jack Daniels.

While the notion of an airline captain intentionally plowing 200+ passengers into the dirt is pretty darn scary, the circumstances surrounding his outburst are actually a little scarier.

On a personal level that is.

You see, prior to his volcanic eruption, Captain Osbon was widely regarded as an industry model. He was a captain's captain. According to one reporter he helped write the guideline book for proper JetBlue pilot behavior. Many colleagues described him as a normal, in some instances, super normal.

In other words, no one saw this coming. Not his friends. Not his family. Not even Clayton himself, who might have looked in the mirror and said to himself, "I'm feeling a little stressed maybe I need to get a puppy. Or go to one of those 'doctors' so I can purchase some calming 'herbal medications' legally."

But he didn't do that. And he snapped. Now it's all over youtube.

This has implications for all of us.
More importantly, it has implications for me.

While generally good natured and quick to a laugh, I have enough self awareness to realize I have a short fuse. I do not suffer foolishness or incompetence very well. I once got terminated from an ad agency not because my work wasn't creative or the clients weren't happy, I got booted from the premises because I had an inclination to intimidate planners and make certain account people cry.

There's a lot of crying in advertising.

I'm also ashamed to admit that once my on-the-job anger manifested itself physically.

This was a long time ago when I was working in the mailroom at Needham, Harper & Steers. Being a mailroom clerk is a crappy job. It's a lot of packing, shipping, schlepping and showing pained deference to every other employee at the agency. It wasn't the lowest rung on the ladder. It was the dirty floor the ladder was placed on.

And the pay sucked too. I believe I was making $800 a MONTH. My rent at the time was $400, so I had to take another job as a short order cook at a jazz nightclub in Santa Monica.

My typical day would start at 8:30 in the morning and wouldn't end until midnight. One night a waitress brought me an order for a roast beef sandwich 5 minutes after I had finished cleaning the kitchen and wrapped up all the perishables.

The open-air kitchen (meaning it was visible to customers) was closed, I told the waitress. She insisted I prepare the meal. I retorted by throwing a ceramic plate against the wall, which not only shattered into a thousand pieces but also shattered the quiet musical interlude by legendary smooth jazz pianist Michael Ruff. (Sadly this event was not captured on video so there is no need to listen to whole song, unless you like this kind of crap.)

Thankfully, those days are way behind me now. And I have this blog to help me vent. Perhaps Clayton, who will no longer be flying planes, should start a blog of his own. I even have a perfect title for him:

The Cabin Has Now Been Depressurized.

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