Monday, May 11, 2020

So close we could taste it

We were so close. So. Close. Now, it's back to the struggle. This year had the potential for so much until this pandemic. Everything was chugging along just fine. A was still at his regional airline, having made peace with the little hope of moving up to a major due to the college degree that just wasn't happening. He had completed training as a Check Airman (and had been labeled "a natural" by the training director) and was regularly getting training override pay to pad his paycheck. He still wasn't  high up the Captain seniority list, barely holding a line some months, but it was OK. He was still a union rep, getting calls at all hours from disgruntled pilots with sometimes reasonable complaints. Sometimes it was time consuming, but the trade off was that he was always in the know about the companies doings.

Out of the blue, a fabulous part time job offer dropped in my lap. I liked my full time job, but it was hard with several kids and a husband away. I had always wanted to go part time when we could afford it but it was hard to find something in my field. But here it was. I was always concerned about giving up access to health insurance in case we had ever needed it. We had always been covered on A's, but I felt relief that we always had a back up even though we had never needed it and didn't forsee that changing in the furture. After some wise council, we decided to go for it and I turned in my notice. I gave 5 weeks notice so we could hire and train a replacement. It was going to be a little bit tight financially but doable. Three weeks after I gave notice, A was updated that his company contact negotiations were going well and he anticipated a substantial raise in both his general pay and his training pay. This would more than make up for the pay I had just given up. We were golden.I thought it was God rewarding me for taking a leap of faith on the job.

Then, mere days later, the bottom dropped out. I was already training my replacement when the pandemic run up began and then hit us in the US. My part time job was still there, but the on call dates I had signed up for to supplement our income quickly evaporated. And no hope of return to a full time job where I was unless someone quit- it's kind of a niche market. A began endless union related phone calls and Zoom conferences. At least when the schools closed, we didn't have to worry about childcare and education for our 9yo, one of us was always home. My income dropped to part time with no benefits and A stopped flying. Technically he's on reserve, but there's no flying for him to do. Very quickly the talk turned to furloughs and numbers. And even with 15 years seniority with the company he likely won't be safe. The best we can hope for is that he won't be furloughed long. And of course, my fear of losing our health care will come to pass. At least with his union position he is the first to get updates on the company status and plans.

So we are already cutting back and trying to figure out how to make due. I qualified for a healthcare worker subsidy for daycare for 3 months but it would have meant moving the kids from the only daycare they've ever known so we let it go. We cut down the summer camps and dropped the summer vacation plans. We let go of the plans for the backyard play structure we were going to buy. We won't be doing the swim lessons we had planned for the summer. I know the kids will be ok, but it hurts. Once again, it wasn't supposed to be like this. I had finally found peace that he was already with his forever airline. I had finally found a part time opportunity that would let me have the best of both worlds. Now we are both home most days stressing each other out. At least come October, when the furloughs start, he won't be spending 3+ hours a day on work/union related calls. We' aren't sure what he'll be doing once furloughed- he really isn't qualified for anything else anymore. I'm sure the pilot job market will be flooded as will all of the flight schools. It may be cart wrangler at Costco for a while. As long as it pays and provides health insurance. And I'm torn. Should I give up the dream job and return to full time? I want to stick it out because I know he'll return to work eventually. But at what financial cost? Is God still testing us- calling us to walk out on the waters and trust him? I try to believe that He will provide and that it will all be OK, but wow it that hard.

I just want our lives back again.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Back to school stress

Fall back to school season is always one of the hardest times for me. I love sending accumulating all the goods, cute fall outfits ( so hard to find outfits for 90 degree days in fall colors though!), and seeing everyone’s first day photos. But every year it brings up significant anxiety for me when I have to fill out the emergency contact forms. We don’t have any family nearby- just two cousins who live six hours away each- and we’ve never found those close family friends I’ve always wished for. I have a few neighbors and acquaintances who have said I could use them but it seems like such a huge task to ask of someone- “will you pick my child up from school if I’m unconscious from a car accident and take care of them for who knows how long until their dad can fly back?” Or “Can you make medical decisions for my child, or children, in an emergency situation?” Maybe I’m just overthinking it, partially because of where I work, but those seem like some heavy responsibilities to ask of someone you don’t know well. And every year I have to face the fact that we still haven’t found those friends we click with well enough for me to think “of course I’ll put so and so.” I know my heart would feel well more settled if we had a plan in place for our children if something were to happen to both of us. But again it’s such an awesome responsibility to ask someone to raise our kids, and get to know them and spend time with them so they aren’t strangers, if something happens to us. I think it’s something I will eternally struggle with.

In other news, we survived the hurricane with no major issues. A was able to get home to us ahead of time to help prepare and wait. And wait. And wait. I am thankful that his company allows him time off with no issues and I hope they continue to do so.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Owning the skies

I recent read the book The Skies Belong To Us about hijackings in the 1960’s and 1970’s in America. It was so fascinating! I was born in the late 1970’s and grew up flying. I remember when anyone could go through airport security and all the way up to the gate. At our local airport, I remember how each gate had it’s own individual scanner to go through. I remember being a teen, coming home from a conference in another state and walking off the plane to find my mother sitting at the gate having guessed that was the flight I was on because I hadn’t had time to call her ( from the old school payphone, with a calling card...) prior to take off.  I vaguely remember a few news stories about hijackings as a young child. I remember seeing passenger alert signs at airports listing a few airports in Africa that didn’t have passenger screenings and how those passengers could enter the air system. I know my dad saw some of those hijacked planes while at work as a mechanic at a major airport.

It was amazing to read about how many hijackings there actually were; how commonplace it had become. There were even multiple hijackings on the same day! And how poorly planned some of these attempts were- hijackings that required plane changes due to distance and airlines having to borrow planes from other airlines to accommodate. It was also amazing to read about how complicit the airlines were with it - caving to every demand and fighting against passenger screenings because they thought the passengers would revolt and stop flying. Little did they know... At one time one could simply arrive at the airport, board a plane, and then purchase a ticket once onboard. With no screening. Mind blown! At one point in the book it mentioned that one of the pilots being hijacked was upset- because he had just been hijacked the month (week?) before! I can’t even imagine flying in that kind of atmosphere. I guess knowing that the airlines would comply, at least the Americans- check out Operation Entebbe for the Israeli response- made it feel less dangerous and more like a minor annoyance. And possibly less angst inducing for the wives. I can’t even imagine.

Overall, it was a really interesting read, the story of one particular hijacking interspersed with the history of hijackings in general. It was easy to get through and definitely left a lasting impression.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Speeding through

Here it is already February! There have been so many times that I meant to post but got caught up doing something else and just never got around to it. That’s the story of all our lives though, isn’t it? Everything is moving along. A was able to bid far below his seniority for December and had not only our week of vacation off, but over a week for Christmas off as well. It may well turn out to be his last Christmas at home for a while, so that was nice. We took our first family vacation in several years to Orlando to do some holiday activities. I got sick the weekend befor the trip but refused to go to the Dr or Urgent Care and consequently spent the entire week popping ibuprofen to handle the high fever and burning sore throat. No man-colds for me! I finally caved when I was still acutely I’ll a week later and went to the Urgent Care with a 102 fever. After much testing I was diagnosed with pneumonia and possible post strep. After a few days extra off work, I went back and promptly picked up a cold which then lead into an ear infection. One chink in my armor and everything opportunistic hopped in! I finally recovered just before New Years and luckily no one else ended up sick. It was so nice to have A home to help. Just as I got well, A cane down with nfluenza A. We caught it quickly, got him on Tamiflu and he recovered in about three days, just in time to take care of the two out of three kids at home who then caught the flu. We’ve finally all recovered!

A had been in the program to get preferential hiring from a major airline and in December finally got word that he was accepted pending completing his Bachelor’s degree. He had been hoping he would be an exception to the rule (why? I don’t know) but was denied.  So he has 12 months to finish his degree. He *should*have been working on it already and knew it was a requirement but still. So we spend most of December tracking down transcripts and getting him enrolled in a program. He’s now working on a BS in Psychology. It’s a self paced program that has a tuition discount program through his airline. He’s known pilots who made it through in 6-7 moths, but at the rate he’s going, he’ll be lucky to finish by his deadline. Although A seems to think otherwise. So we’ll see. I know the thought of guys below him in seniority going over before him burns him, so hopefully that will be good motivation for him.

I was thinking the other day about how lucky A is to have a job he can walk away from instead of having to deal with the same people day after day. It came about on a particular Monday morning when I was dreading having to rehash a difficult conversation with a parent. It bugged me all weekend that I knew what was coming. A on the other hand completed his two-three hour flight and then done. He closes the flight and walks away, hopefully never to have to deal with it again. I on the other hand spend day after day with the same people, plugging away at the same problems, until they finally discharge. Sometimes it’s more exhausting than rewarding.

I’m still waiting for that magic day when everything falls into place.

Friday, November 9, 2018


October was a stressful month, but we made it through. It was rough with A being gone for 12 days straight and we definitely decided that while we are fine with the airline type schedule, a cargo type  schedule with a week plus gone then multiple weeks home is not for us.  A also came home from his meeting with many new t shirts (all union made) and glasses from the “Delta Pub”.  Overall it was a great experience for him. That was promptly followed by recurrent training a few days later. Luckily, A is not the one who feels the need to study up prior to a recurrent event. He’s never needed peace and quiet or to hang a poster and practice flows. And really, shouldn’t you be doing it correctly all along? Shouldn’t you already be confident in your knowledge and skills? So off he went to breeze through recurrent barely breaking a sweat. Since then, it’s been routine trips and minimal Fay’s off. We have a nice break off coming up. This week has been especially tough with A being gone and all three kids sick. I was off Monday after rocking a Cub Scout camping trip partially solo with three kids. Seriously. I put up a tent, in the rain, in near dark, by myself, and didn’t even lose a kid. I am Mam, hear me roar! Thanks to a cancelled flight, A wasn’t able to get to us unti early afternoon the next day. But we did fine thanks to the giving heats and helping hands of our scout family. We all came home tired and covered in bug bites. All the kids promptly got sick and I had to leave work early on both Wednesday and Thursday to get them from school. A doctor visit later and we had steroids and advice on humidifiers and benedryl dosage for all. We then had to return to the doctor Friday morning for a previously scheduled well-baby visit which got me into work 2.5 hours late.  And then fielded a request to come home early again, which I had to decline. These are the days that are the hardest. I have no tribe to help and I simply can’t leave early again, especially having come in late. I know A feels like shit too, not being able to help. This is the first time I really remember being stuck like this. A nice long weekend for the kids should help. Dad’s on duty Monday as it’s not a holiday for me ( yeah hospital life!). We are looking forward to time off for the Thanksgiving holiday and an actually family vacation in December. In which I will be dazzled by the fancy hotel while A is nonplussed because he stays in fancy hotels all the time. All in all, here’s to a restful weekend and a quiet, noneventful, upcoming week.