Monday, August 26, 2013

Big Monkey in the Big Apple

I flew out mid Thursday morning to rendezvous with Tammy and Rachel for a late afternoon arrival in Islip, NY, the closest airport to Stony Brook. The only hitch in the whole trip was a new can of gel shaving lotion that became the property of some TSA worker. I suppose I was figuring a gel product would be safe from their feasting eyes but apparently I don't travel often enough to know what terrorists are using these days to bring down planes.

I made a connection at Reagan International where I traded my Embrair 145 for a CRJ2, a dog of an airplane that all too often struggles to reach altitude. We maxed out at a wimpy 29,000 feet on this final leg of the journey.

I'd intended to read my Kindle (Don Felder's Heaven and Hell: My Life in the Eagles) but I scrapped that plan pretty much as soon as a guy in a really big cowboy hat sat down next to me. He was chatting on his cellphone while he took his seat. "This is Big monkey...so you're sure my passport is in order?" (a reassuring voice on the other end speaks) "And so-and-so will be there to meet me?" I couldn't help but glance away from my Kindle as this discussion took place while at the same time my seat-buddy was rearranging a bunch of bills in his wallet, the likes of which I'd never seen. Strange money.

I pretended to read my Kindle while he got situated and before he directed his attention toward me. I can't remember what he said but the small-talk began. "So, are you from New York?" "No, I'm just meeting my wife an daughter here (insert brief explanation)" I returned the pleasantry by inquiring about his plans. He replied that although he was from New York, he was on assignment, employed by the federal government with 35 years of service but that he couldn't tell me what exactly it was that he did.

Oh my.

I told him that I too was employed by the federal government as an air traffic controller and that I was pretty much just waiting to pick my day to retire. He seemed interested but he brought the conversation back to his line of work. "I can't tell you what I do exactly but I can tell you this: I've been to every state in the country and I've been to every country in the world...I know how to go in and cause people to revolt; to rise up against their government".

What do you say to that? Syria came to mind.

I so wanted to dismiss the guy as some nut-job from New York like so many others I'd likely meet along the way but all too often he'd say something that made sense and so I was reluctant to do so.

He spoke of police in this country and how their tactics are often times born out of haste rather than trying to achieve a result that reduces the chance for confrontation. He talked about how when they wanted to apprehend someone they would often use some form of gas to render everybody in the home unconscious before quietly going in and getting their man. It made sense to me.

The more we talked the more I liked Big Monkey and it really didn't matter to me if he was merely bullshitting me or not. I enjoyed his company.

As I got off the plane and headed toward the terminal I turned to take a photo of the plane. Big Monkey is the guy in the lime-green shirt with the cowboy hat.

I texted Rachel to let her know I'd arrived, half expecting them to meet me as I got off the plane but they were busy getting her situated in her dorm. They'd be there to pick me up in less than 15 minutes. I read my Kindle while I waited, content that I'd arrived in one piece and had left nothing behind with the exception of one can of gel shaving lotion.

More to follow...

8 comments:

jim e smith said...

i can't believe that an air traffic controller from anywhere would call it 'reagan national airport' you should be ashamed....

Kevin said...

Yawn...I don't much care for GW Bush. Do I not use his name either when referring to his time as president? Sorry to offend you but that's its name.

Anonymous said...

you replacement controllers always did miss the point

Kevin said...

And what point was that?

32 years later and you still can't get over the fact that putting your faith in Poli was a huge mistake and one that you'd pay for dearly.

32 years is a long time to live in bitterness but that's your choice.

Anonymous said...

32 YEARS AND CONTROLLERS ARE STILL FIGHTING THE SAME FIGHT IS THE POINT. IT IS APPARENT THAT YOU HAVE NO SENSE OF HISTORY OF AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL, 1968, 1970, 1974, 1977 AND THEN 1981 ALL DATES OF HEADON CONFRONTATIONS WITH THE FAA. YOU CALL IT BITTERNESS AND I CALL IT CONTINUING THE FIGHT. YOU HAVE LOST THE IDEALS THAT WERE FOUGHT FOR TO BETTER THE SAFETY OF THE PEOPLE WHO FLY AND THE CONTROLLERS WHO KEEP THE VIGIL.

Kevin said...

Wow, you're sure assuming a lot on my part simply because I called it Reagan National. I would think you would have better things to do at this point in your life but whatever.

Anonymous said...

a real controller understands, the profession will be better when you retire.....

Kevin said...

Oh my, you really do need to get a life or at least a therapist. I'm done with you.