I took a test when I was in high school which promised, if I answered the questions truthfully, to tell me what I would be good at in life. A sophisticated algorithm collected data by asking for answers to an exhaustive list of Freudian questions such as : “While looking at yourself in the mirror, do you part your hair on the left or the right?” and “Do you consciously put the cap on your toothpaste or do you unconsciously leave it uncapped, therefore consciously rebelling against your inner child?” and “Which form of capital punishment would you choose if your future child were to draw blood in battle with another sibling over an egg sandwich?”
I don’t recall much about trigonometry, thermodynamics or marshmallow explosion theory.
I forget how the results were rolled out for this exam, but included may have been musical vingetes, uniforms, badges, certificates, tattoos, textbooks and other miscellaneous items required for said indoctrination. A memorable day it was.
I thought to myself, this career-generating robotic algorithm must have merit. There must be hundreds of PhD’s behind a curtain in a lab holding long pointy needles who have tested enough rats to know which answers fit for each career recommendation, a.k.a. identity profile. What followed my first thought was a highly mature and introspective thought process about destiny, end game, God, free pizza, and careers that boys would think were cool.
I decided to read what the results said, pray a little prayer, give it a sniff test, see if it sounded plausible, then decide if I liked what with the test said. If yes, then I would believe and sign up.
Ready for this?
The test said I would be an excellent Air Traffic Controller.
Right. I know, daughter of electrical engineer, oceanographer, ham radio operator and radial ham sandwich enthusiast. Daughter of bilingual, high-functioning culturally culinary worldly parenting guru. Grand-daughter of famous D-Day commander. Older sister and shepherd to younger inexperienced and dislikable sister (ewe). This all made too much sense. The vectors were all pointing one direction. The test results must be true.
During the sniff test I reflected that in addition to coming from the perfect gene pool for this perfect new identity, I also knew how to fold a 420 sail small enough to shove it into a bag, and I had learned how to expand marshmallows in the microwave to the point of explosion. I was ready.
Fast forward my life by about (cough) 30 years and there could be nothing more ludicrous than to think I could have been good at moving airplanes around airports with living objects imbedded within.
Me thinks the Freudian method of identity search flawed.
In addition to the obvious skill deficits concerning punctuality, attention to detail, and artisanal napkin folding abilities, I could add at least 12 other civil and criminal violations that would have disqualified me from this position, primarily but not exclusively the abuse suffered by my younger sister while on trans-continental flights.
So where was my source of identity at this point in life? In a Scantron Number Two Pencil Special administered and authorized by a Trustworthy Educational Institution.
Here I stand (sit) at my little air traffic control tower (paltry desk slash junk pile) in my (non-ergonomic non-aerodynamic) chair thinking to myself, I have to get that small white airplane out of the hanger in less than 2 minutes or I’m going to be late picking up the kids.
Our second year in Mexico has, well, flown by (pun intended).
There have been many airplanes involved. Many flights, bags, lost bags, destinations, passengers, co-pilots, and squished elbows sharing arm rests with strangers. Figuratively speaking, claro que si.
Some of the flights have been exhilarating, breath-taking and jaw-dropping. The jungles of Chiapas, the waterfalls of Palenque, the ruins of Machu Picchu, the vistas overlooking Cusco and Quito. Yucatan adventures to cenotes, ancient Maya civilizations, Spanish churches and pueblo centros. Discoveries of local fiestas and traditions.
But upon further reflection, and considering my failings in the air traffic control department, by far the best flights we took this year had nothing to do with airplanes, control towers, vistas or destinations.
The best part of flying has been meeting the people on the flight.
It has been a good year in aviation as well as in the mission field. On we go.