Thursday, October 30, 2008
Ahh, a pilot's life. Traveling all over the planet, staying in fine hotels and eating in fine restaurants, meeting beautiful people and having a 'friend-with-benefits' in every port. That's the cliche, but it ain't entirely a cliche.
So there's this pilot I know..
This pilot has an ongoing romantic relationship with 2 other people at the same time. Neither person is aware of the other one's existence. This tells me that my friend pilot is a bit of a sociopath, and is also well-organized. The pilot uses a spreadsheet to make up flight schedules, then shows the fake schedules to each partner, and the schedules are set up to explain the pilot's absence through work. This has been going on for some time, as in years.
This person isn't the first pilot I know who has run two relationships at the same time; the nature of our business is such that random, extended absences are pretty common, so it makes it easier for a cheater to come up with excuses for a liaison. For example, I nearly did a trip to Texas this morning, which would cause me to miss the Hallowe'en party that Lisa and I have been planning for a while. Lisa didn't even bat an eye when I told her last night - she knows it's a part of my occupation / career / passion.
I do admit that from a purely clinical perspective, running two simultaneous and separate romances takes some genius. It also fails a basic risk management test - failure is inevitable, and the consequences of failure will be spectacular but not in a good way.
The thing is, in this particular case, it's worked so far and it's been quite a while.
I couldn't handle a life like that. First of all, I'm not too big on betrayal - I would drink poison for Lisa anyway, and the thought of hurting her on purpose is horrifying. Second, eventually the jig will be up, and I don't have the energy or inclination to worry about whether every incoming phone call I get is a loved one, distraught and furious after having unraveled some small lie that caused the whole big lie to come apart. Lastly, I value my time alone, and a quick peek at this pilot's master schedule (detailing time allocated for work, and for each partner), shows this pilot has zero time alone. To me, it sounds like a private Hell, but clearly I'm missing something. It's gotta be the sex, right? I just wonder how satisfying it can be when it's all based around a lie.
When I think of my pilot friend, the word that comes up a lot is 'selfish' - to me that's doing something that hurts loved ones, but choosing to continue anyway because it gives some sort of gratification. The thing is...
I have had to no-show to lots of important events and occasions with friends and family due to flying, and it is extremely likely that when I have kids I will miss important moments in their lives because I'm away on a trip. Just thinking about it makes me really sad, but it's a price that I will pay, and make them pay, because it's what I want, and because I'm selfish. Really, the only major distinction I can make between my behavior and my pilot friends is that I am honest about my selfishness to my loved ones, while my pilot friend chooses to keep that information private. Is that actually enough? I really hope so.