Monday, December 30, 2013

High School Reunion

There they are making the most of a freezing drizzle night at O'Hare.
When I left high school I never looked back.  Behind me was nothing I wanted to experience again.  Of course others felt differently and stayed to keep the town alive.  I never understood that and I've never understood the allure of reunions.
To me, if you liked the place or people you would have never left and therefore there'd be no reason for a reunion.  Those who gave a damn were still standing in line with you at the local Wal-Mart or playing bingo at the same table.  It just never made sense.  Then tonight I ran into some friends.
It has been a year and a half since I left the Republic Empire and started flying for Atlas.  During that time I have seen places I never thought I'd see, hauled things I never imagined hauling, and witnessed things I can't repeat.  Yet in disappointing fashion, few of them were much fun.
Due to the schedules you're usually alone and when you're not by yourself you're in far away lands with people whose number one goal is to find McDonald's or an Irish Pub.  Put bluntly, a large percentage of them are no fun.  The reasons for this are many but suffice it to say the number of people I know who explore by themselves is quite high for a reason.
Don't get me wrong, I have had some great fun at Atlas.  But the number of days where fun has come easy in as less than one if divided by ten.  The rest of the time the other guy’s health issues, anger, or “I can’t let go of the military” mentality sucks the fun right out of Disney World. In other words, there’s no reunion in sight for me.
So, with that in mind, there I was tonight walking through the terminal at O’Hare.  Our crew had just brought a 747 from JFK and all that was left for me to do was hop on a commercial flight.  Pulling my mobile home through the corridors connecting one regional jet cluster to another, I couldn’t help but remember some of the fun that was had there years before.
Republic was a typical regional operation.  By its nature the misery quotient was high but because of that the people were mostly fun.  Basically, if you weren’t capable of finding the humor in insults or making toys from dried dog turds, then you most likely weren’t there.  Those were the people I thought of, them and the gyro place in terminal F, as I walked head down to avoid eye contact.  Then for some reason I looked up.
Ahead of me walking the opposite direction was a Republic crew.  I knew them all and we stopped to say hello.  During our brief conversation I asked them how long they were there (hoping they had time to kill) and they asked me about the new job.  Following Airline Employee Regulation 24, part 5, sub-section a to the letter, I told them only the best parts.  Then we went our separate ways.
To them what probably seemed like a break between cattle drives was to me a welcome reminder of the good people I once worked with.  I wish instead of "Happy New Year", I had said “It was great to see you guys”.   And that’s when I realized the allure of reunions.
Sometimes a seemingly incongruous group of people comes together on a train traveling from one of life’s landmarks to the next; they talk, laugh, share stories, and lose track of time.  And although they casually waive goodbye as each person steps from the train in search of a connection that will take them where they need to be, neither realizes the uniqueness of the situation until they step without notice from their next connection.
Standing there on that platform, one leg of the journey stands out.  Then and only then does it occur to each of them the randomness which brought the group together makes it impossible to recreate and they long to be part of something like that again.  After that, for some illogical reason, ten years down the road, one of them, usually someone who stayed behind, puts together a reunion.  Remembering that train ride, people far and wide purchase tickets, put their lives on hold, and go in search of those who made one of life’s commutes a little more bearable.   Not me of course, I’ve never understood those things.  

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