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Location:Texas, USA Naturalized US Citizen of Irish extract -   Fixed Wing and Helo trucker.Interests: "The Absurdity of Man". I am a proud supporter of Blarney, Nonsense, and Hooey. I enjoy being a chopper jockey, and trying to figure the world, people and belief systems out. I'm just not very good at it, so it keeps me real busy. I scribble, blog, run this website, mess with rental houses, ride motorbikes, and read as much as I can. I went solo 44 years ago, and I like to say I'm gonna get me a real job one day. When I grow up. ("but not just yet, Lord, not just yet") For my aviation scribbles see www.chopperstories.com.... enjoy! I wish you Peace in your Life. May you always walk with the sun on your face, and a breeze ruffling your hair. And may you cherish a quiet wonder for our awesome Universe. Life isn't always good. But it is always fascinating. Never quit.
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Of Helicopters and Humans (30) "A Mental Midget" - "Moggy on Fire"
Of Helicopters and Humans (30)


????


"A Mental Midget"  

or
    "Moggy on Fire"




     I'm not very bright.

I've re-discovered this fact numerous times. As one of my friends at University in Ireland apparently remarked, a long time ago:

"Francis? Oh, not a bad bone in his body;  just a pity he has this knack of elevating being an utter Klutz to some kind of Art Form..."

      That was a long time ago, but nothing much has changed. In my defense, I would postulate that 'brains' skip generations. You see, my dad was brainy. He had a PH.D. in Chemistry. My oldest brother was an Acoustics Engineer. My middle brother has a PH.D. in Physics. My oldest son has an Electronic Engineer's degree.  And moi? What do I get for brains?

Well, I'm a dump truck driver. I pick up and then dump Bears for a living.

       To be honest, it's probably a good thing.  With the chaos I have already unintentionally caused, with my limited skills, I think it's almost certainly a blessing I wasn't destined to become a Nuclear Physicist or a Molecular Biologist or something. I'm sure I would have had a mental blip and blown up the New York Power Grid, or committed generational genetic Klutz on a whole new molecular level. Regardless, it would probably have been accidentally climate changing. Heck, I try, honestly I do.  But when I look back, I shiver. There was so much Klutz.

      Like the time on the Tuna Boat, when the Captain invited the dump truck driver to join him in his cabin one night. It was an honor. He had five visiting Captains there, all being royally entertained. In I came, all happy and cheerful, blundering and well meaning. So in my broken Chinese, and their broken English, we were having a riotous time. Everybody drinking and telling stories, and falling around laughing. Heck, I thought I was doing so well. Until, typical Klutz, with a magnificent flourish, (illustrating some wild story), I contrived to knock over a full Pint glass of beer. I have no idea how I do this. I try ever so hard, seriously, ever so bloody hard, NOT to do this.

But no, there goes another beer glass... flying.

      It gets to be demoralizing. It's even worse, when fate decrees the previously full pint glass lands SMACK, unerringly, bull's eye, zero deviation, right in the captain's lap. A thousand-to-one shot. He was wearing his best suit as well. Even he, the Master of the Poker Face, cool, authoritarian, suave, winced as the cold fluid unexpectedly baptized his nether regions. The five visiting captains shrieked with delight, clapping and applauding wildly. I, for my part, utterly horrified, sat there with hands in front of mouth, kindergarten style, pointlessly mouthing unseen apologies.  The Captain, with difficulty, composed himself, did some wholly ineffective mopping with some rice paper thin tissues, and then put on his usual unruffled air.  It took a lot to upset our Captain. He took most things in his rapid Taiwanese stride. Even his dump truck driver raucously fermenting his genitalia was not going to detract from his stoic composure. Strong character.

       Well, I was sufficiently shaken up that it took me a few minutes to join in the fun again. The loudest visiting captain was sitting beside me, and he was positively loving it. He kept clapping me on the shoulders, and telling me that there was a helicopter job for me on HIS boat anytime I wanted. I got the impression there was some professional rivalry between my Captain and Captain Happy Loudmouth. As far as Captain Loudmouth was concerned, I was on his side forever. That is, until the precise moment I was illustrating another story.

       He had, as it goes, taken the wise precaution of sneakily moving his full beer out of my reach. Smart move. My reputation had preceded me, I'm sure. Anyway, there he was sitting, all happy as a fat Buddha to have witnessed my neat trick with the Pint glass and my Captain's nether regions, still laughing uproariously. For some reason, which I have long since forgotten, I was firing a bow and arrow. Well, I was trying to fire the imaginary arrow actually, but this of course required drawing the arrow back firstly. My elbow traveled back fortissimo, and instantly socked Captain Happy Loudmouth full in the eye. Solid contact. This time it was he who yelped pitifully, and, clutching his eye, he proceeded to rock back and forth uttering strange strangled Taiwanese "AI-AI-AI-AI" sounds. It must have really hurt. All the other visiting captains looked suitably shocked. I was hiding my horrified mouth behind my hands (again), eyes bulging, (again), wondering (again) what in heck makes me DO that shit.  I really WISH I could be like normal people. But no, he could craftily move his pint glass of beer out of my reach all he liked, he was wasting his time. Fate had decreed Moggy was going to exercise his Karate Klutz skills on him - somehow.  No escape.  
       There was only ONE person in the room who remained wholly cool, poised and unruffled by the intense ocular drama: my Captain. He was nonchalantly busy filling up my glass. With an unruffled, quietly satisfied air about him. In his mind, I guess that little trick of mine constituted Divine Pay-Back on Loudmouth. Karma. You know what he was thinking.

Good! Moggy just evened up the score...

       I look back on these things, and certain images float back, just to embarrass me. I wrote a poem once, about getting up in the morning, and looking in the mirror. I recommend it to you, if you are perchance a student of Psychology. Or perhaps a Doctor in a nut house. Here is the link.  It's called "I looked in the Mirror this morning".
       Well, bear that poem in mind when you consider one typical first morning after a 7 day hitch flying the Gulf. Six or seven hour flying days being the norm. Hot and humid. Exhausting. So, the first morning at home, in my own bed, getting up into my own kitchen, is a pleasure. Kind of. Except when you go to microwave a cup of water for a much needed strong coffee. And you discover to your sleepy annoyance, that some idiot has gone and parked all kinds of crap in the microwave: there's milk, and cheese, and fruit, and lots of Yoghurt, and packets of stuff, and plastic containers, and...

Huh!?

And you ask yourself, what in heck's name is all that stuff doing in the Microwave? Eh? And you would do as I did, you would step back, swaying precariously, and engage your brilliant last remaining brain cell.  Figured it out already? I did too, eventually. That was not the microwave. At all. It's called a refrigerator. I was trying to microwave my cup of water in the fridge. It wasn't going to work.  Never. No matter how long I persevered.  I remember I shut my eyes, and I told myself not to panic. I wasn't going insane. I was just a little tired. All I had to do was concentrate, and it would be alright. So, I concentrated. CUP-goes-in-MICROWAVE. See? Easy! Not a problem. My confidence restored, I retrieved the now boiling water, and then I carefully added C-O-F-F-E-E. Then I added M-I-L-K.  Thank fukness. It's all good. Then I carefully went to replace the milk in the refrigerator. I opened the door of the refrigerator. And discovered the gallon of milk wouldn't fit. It just wouldn't go in.

Huh!?

I tried once. I tried twice. I tried three times. The top and bottom of the gallon container were both hitting off the top and bottom of the refrigerator. It didn't make sense. It always fitted before. Why wouldn't it fit now?
Steps back. Engages mind. Very slow awareness. No, that's maybe not the refrigerator. THAT is the microwave. I am trying to put the gallon of milk back into the microwave.  I AM going mad.

      But Life waltzes on. So does the catalogue of disasters. Thus there was this super nice black Angolan Supervisor, who had a ride with me I bet he'll never -ever- forget. I'm sure he still talks about it. This Klutz affair is described in the story "Of Helicopters and Humans (3): A Certain Rich Aroma".    I can do a time warp dance through my little life, and marvel at how I did it. I know everybody else does.

      There was the time I simply could not get the hang of Internet printing. It defeated my intelligence at every turn. I was working in the Gulf of Mexico, and I had flown a full day, and all I had to do was print off my Flight Sheets for that day. Then I could take off home. Three pages of landing and take-offs. It should have taken twenty seconds. But no, the dumb printer at Intercoastal City, Louisiana, would NOT play ball. No matter how many times I pressed "print", that anti-diluvian piece of soulless technology just sullenly stared at me.  Knickers. I'm not playing. You can rant and rave and plead and implore and threaten ritual hara-kiri all you like. I am NOT cooperating.
      I was tired, and hungry, and beginning to catch up on all my old Chinese swear words. Nobody in the world can swear like the Chinese. They are consummate experts. But that's another story. Another Klutz Story. It's called "Barking mad; Moggy, Moggy, what you DO??"  I was getting really desperate. Press "print". No print. Fiddle with the printer. Check the paper. Again. Check the ink cartridges. Again. Switch it off. Switch it on. Get exasperated. Try and chill. Fail. Miserably. Hit "print" again. Silence. Repeat all of the above. Blood pressure spiking. Then the Lead Pilot walked in. He stood and observed me coldly for a second, and then he said, somewhat drily it seemed:

"Francis, I have a message from Boothville Base for you..."

      I looked blank. Boothville? That was another base a hundred plus miles away. Big base. Very busy. Sausage factory. I hadn't flown out of Boothville for months. What did they want with me? The Lead continued:

"They asked me to inquire with you if one hundred and twenty nine pages of today's flight sheets might be sufficient for you. I believe that amounts to forty three complete copies. They would also like you to know that the Amazonian Rain Forest is being chopped down quickly enough without your personal dedicated assist..."  

I was baffled. Totally non-plussed. Not a clue. It took as per usual the youngest person still on the premises to quietly explain to the raving old fart that I was busily and voluminously "web printing" remotely to the Boothville base. And that if I wanted it to be printed at Intercoastal City, that I needed to tell "it" to do so...
    Stupid machine.  Web printing. Stupid idea.

      Even my son Angus was witness to one of many potential Evening News Headlines. What happened there was that he was over on holiday, and we were both working outside one of my Texas rental properties. A fixer-upper I had bought cheap for fixing upping. He was polishing a motorcycle, and I was fixing up the front lawn. I had mowed it. It was a rather large lawn. It was a rather posh rental house. It (the front lawn) covered an area maybe the size of four tennis courts. I had it looking pretty damn slick, except for all the unsightly cuttings.  Solution? Burn it! Simple. So I raked it all together in about twelve of fifteen piles. Went and got some firelighters, and some matches. No problem.  There was supposed to be something called a State Wide Burn Ban in effect, but I didn't think burning a little bit of grass would bother anybody. I thought they only meant campers and barbecues in the middle of the Forest, sort of thing. So I lit a pile. Initially, it burned kind of real slowly. This was going to take forever. So, just to get a move on, I lit a few more. Slow burn. Smoke. Slow. Heck, I lit them all. A dozen plus piles of grass burning. Angus was engrossed in polishing the motorcycle.
      Pretty soon, well, grass burning pretty damn good. Boy, that got going nicely. Cool. Wow. Real nicely. Flames leaping up. I was about to lean back in smug self satisfaction, when I noticed the lawn seemed to have caught fire. I quietly went and retrieved an old fashioned broom. You know, the ones the witches fly around on. Real straw broom. Blue handle. Heavy straw sweeper at the end. Nice broom.



Notice the three wise monkeys together, and the fourth monkey saying it all


Armed with this weapon, I hastily, but still with dignity, returned to my horticultural pursuit. I then proceeded to calmly beat out the part of the lawn that had taken light. No Biggie. That done, I thought I had better check on the other piles. I discovered two more localized incipient lawn fires. I quickly beat those out. Slightly less calmly. Maybe that was why they had a burn ban in Texas. Everything was so damn dry. Never had this problem in Ireland. Rains too much. Oh, well. I looked around, and to my quiet consternation, I saw the first lawn fire had taken rapid hold again. I moved a little quicker now. Not panicking or anything, but just kind of realizing maybe this was not quite going to plan. Several more lawn fires broke out, with hungry little flames licking at surprising speed across the lawn. Quickly growing in height, if you didn't watch it. I was getting a little winded. I leaned on my broom for a quick rest. Phew. Hard work. It was at that stage that I heard Angus call to me. I looked up the hill towards him, and he seemed to be saying something like:
"Dad! YO-OOOMâ€"IZZZZZâ€"IRE----!!"
What!?
"Dad! YO-OOOMâ€"IZZZZZâ€"IRE----!!"
What!?
Angus was now hastening down the hill towards me. He was pointing at something. I looked around.
What!?
"Dad! YOUR BROOM IS ON FIRE...!!!"

It is at this stage I should probably recount my son's (frequently re-told to friends & family) remembrance of events. He was real busy polishing the motorcycle, and only vaguely noticed his Dad beginning to move with greater alacrity. He saw the first few breakaway lawn fires being (calmly) dealt with, and thought basically that all was cool. Like, "Dad's got it under control." Then Dad seemed to be moving faster and faster. Still cool. Well, cool-ish. Then he seemed to be moving really fast. Not quite so cool. Then he seemed to be becoming slightly agitated. Angus stopped polishing at the exact moment I stopped for a breather. It was at that stage he noticed my straw broom was firmly on fire, except that Dad hadn't noticed it yet.  He yelled a warning, and Dad (eventually) looked down, to discover the broom blazing, and his trousers smoldering ominously.
(sigh)
Total loss of cool.
      Honestly, it's hard to look composed when your trousers are going on fire. I mean, you know. Give me a break. A man's trousers.  It took precious seconds to beat the pants and broom fires out, at which stage a wall of fire four foot high was now building and heading purposefully towards the neighbor's immaculate upscale house (long since fixed up) and attendant shiny new looking Cadillac Esplanade.  Not to forget the fact that said house backed up to fifteen thousand acres of prime Sabine National Forest.  Angus actually remembers asking if Dad 'wanted any help'. And he says Dad said (slightly breathlessly) : "Splendid idea!"
Then we both tore into it.

The Evening Headlines… that never occurred.  (only Just Never.)
"Irish Helicopter Lunatic burns down village plus five thousand forested acres at McGee's Landing, Sabine County."  

It could have been ugly...

*           *              *              *               *

     My gormless Irish-isms of course are understandable when you allow for the mutual culture shock when you mix true thorough bred third generation Incomer Americans with Upstart First Generation Incomers like me. Ask the long suffering Native American Indians.  There is going to be confusion. What is harder to understand though are the fine language nuances. Also, I should explain I was raised on a steady diet of the Classics, from Mark Twain to Tolstoy, and Boris Pasternak to Charles Dickens. The latter especially was a firm favorite, but unfortunately the English-American language has evolved since. Some words have taken on a totally different meaning. Thus, in some parts of the world, we encourage you to "be cheerful" by the simple expression "Keep your pecker up!". However, the use of such an idiom should come with a grave health warning. Apply it in the wrong locale, say in a redneck bar in the Southern Bible Belt, and you are liable to get fist-pecked painfully in the kisser.  Use it in the wrong bar in San Francisco, and some safety pin wearing bruiser, with rings in his nose, and a crooked smile, is going to try and stick his studded tongue down your throat.  In a similar vein, for centuries "gay" has meant "cheerful". Nothing else.   "Endowed" meant simply "gifted", or "equipped with". A farm was "endowed" with fertile fields, or a country might be "endowed" with great wealth.
     Thus I struggled with my love of the Old English language, when it came to my duties as a Helicopter Jockey in the Gulf of Mexico.  Of the many cases of acute faux pas I remember, none brings quite the same memory shivers to me as one that occurred on a really busy, hot summer's day.

     I had flown five or six hours already. I was barbecued, and tired, and doing my humble best. You are frequently expected to be able to monitor three radios at the same time, and do incredibly complex mathematical fuel-range-daylight-weight equations in your head, at the drop of a hat. So it was that we were pretty well damn well totally FULL UP. The Baggage compartment was bursting full to overflowing. We already had four passengers. That left two seats, but one was bung full of overflow luggage. That left one single seat, in the middle of the back row. The Dispatcher knew that. Of course, he came on the radio, wanting to turn me around, to pick up one more man from a neighboring platform. The trouble was that the two guys sitting in the back row were humongous. Gargantuan. Arnold Schwarzenegger types. They were Divers, built like brick outhouses. They were huge men, and basically were using up most of the middle seat just finding a place for their massive anatomies.

      I sighed. Unless it was a very small man, a midget, he would never fit between the two divers. They were that big.
Tired, harassed, I phrased my attempted description of the two divers in an unfortunate manner. I was trying to explain over the busy frequency that there was simply not much room for anybody in that middle seat. My choice of words… not quite right.
"These guys in the back I've already got on board, well they are really well...uh, WELL ENDOWED..."
I meant biceps, abdomen, bulk. I swear.  Poor choice of word.
He queried that, starting to giggle hysterically.  Another pilot voice said: "What did you just say, Francis?"  
I blundered on. I'm not supposed to extol to the airwaves the size of the appendages of our customers, I'm sure.
I next was trying to say I was obligingly willing to turn back, and let the person wanting the ride see for himself, that there was not much room. So I had in mind a physically small person, perhaps, with a small carry on bag. That was what was going through my tired mind. I also was trying to say that he should be of a cheerful disposition, because he would be crammed in like a sardine.
"Well, ideally he needs to be a gay midget with a hand bag..."

      The moment I said it, it was too late. Realization flooded tired mind.
Great. Having just announced to the whole listening world I had two WELL ENDOWED passengers on the back seat, I was now putting in for a GAY MIDGET with a HAND BAG. To sit in between them.
Hoots of laughter over the airwaves.
"Is Moggy having a meltdown?", asked one of my brother pilots on the frequency.
"No, he's going into the Gay Match Making Business…", quipped another.

(Sigh)
Oh, cruel world.



Francis Meyrick



It's a tough life being Moggy's Broom...


Last edited by Francis Meyrick on August 21, 2014, 10:34 am
We little humans, hurtling through the Universe on our tiny, pale blue dot, will find few answers to Life's great mysteries. But we should at least find many of the questions. To write is to ask. To seek. To grope. With humility, and humor. Peace.
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