My life can be a little complicated at times, even by time zone-hopping pilot standards. You see, at the present time, I have six employers: Sunrise Aviation, Dynamic Aviation, Skytypers, Opera Pacific, and two individual clients.
As you might imagine, keeping my schedule straight isn’t easy, especially since each of my employers uses a different system. One of them sends out the schedules as Excel spreadsheets. Another has a proprietary web-based system. Still another does everything via text message. Then there are rehearsal calendars from Opera Pacific, which are in constant flux. Those are only available in paper format. Then there are benefit performances, Angel Flights, family affairs, birthdays, anniversaries, SCR performances, and more.
Currently, I use Microsoft Outlook as the master calendar and transcribe everything manually into that application. At one time, I simply synchronized Outlook with a Palm Pilot and carried that with me. However, I quickly got sick of lugging a PDA all over the place. It doesn’t sound like much of a burden to carry a small handheld device in my pocket, but when combined with the cell phone, iPod, keys, wallet, and other sundry items, it was just too much.
Thankfully, Google has a Calendar Sync applet which will automatically upload your Outlook data to Google Calendar as often as you wish. Between that, LogMeIn.com, and the easy availability of internet connections these days, I can usually get access to my schedule when required.
That’s the long way of saying that I show up where I’m supposed to, when I’m supposed to be there.
Well, most of the time, anyway.
This morning I got up at the usual hour of 4:45 a.m. for a day of King Air flying out of Los Alamitos JFTB. I made my typical brown-bag lunch, drove to the base, parked my car, and sat in for the Monday morning staff meeting before the pilots disperse to preflight their aircraft.
I just happened to glance at the dispatch sheet for today and noticed that, for some odd reason, my name wasn’t on it. Weird. I assumed that it was a typo and the name “Ross” in Medfly 3 was actually supposed to be “Rapp”. I did notice that Bill Ross was at work that day, but he also works sometimes as an A&P in addition to being a pilot, so perhaps that was it.
I questioned the dispatcher, and as you’ve probably figured out by now, there was no typo. At least, not on the dispatch sheet. More like a gigantic typo on my Outlook calendar, because I wasn’t even supposed to be at work today! As if that wasn’t enough, I was right in the middle of the meeting, so not only did I show up on the wrong day, but now everyone at work knows it.
On the plus side, I did get to sit in 60 minutes of rush hour traffic on the way home, which gave me ample time to consider how blessedly rare this kind of snafu is. And it certainly could have been worse: I could have failed to show up when I was scheduled to fly instead of the opposite.
I asked my boss how often something like this happens, and he said, “More often than you might think.” It must really hurt when one of the guys who lives far away from the base does this. One of our pilots drives in to Los Alamitos from Pacific Palisades. One comes from Santa Monica. But the all-time winner commutes from Redlands — it takes as long as two hours each way. Ironically, when I fly with that first officer, we always seem to be assigned Region 25, which is over Redlands. Oh, the irony of getting up at 4 a.m. and driving 100 miles across Southern California only to get in an airplane and fly right back to your house…
Now if I can only get over the fact that I’ll be getting up before the sun tomorrow instead of sleeping in. Ugh.