I had a silly thought today while waiting for our jet to get fixed. I do have the nickname mentioned in this story, and I do love to say the most horrible things about what could go wrong… so I thought of a fun “power” for a fictional character to have, and jotted down a rough idea of his story.
Aircrew are a superstitious lot.
“Don’t eat your lunch during maintenance delays on the ground,” they say, “or else you’re sure to fly your full sortie.”
“Don’t say that equipment, or weather, or the aircraft, or the evaluation, or any blasted thing is ‘good to go,’ because that means it won’t be.”
“If you DO say such a thing, knock on wood, or else you’re jinxing us.”
Well, our Navigator said some things yesterday, and knocked really hard on the plastic top of the mission planning room podium. But here we are, delayed again for… five, six… no, seven different issues with this fifty-year-old plane.
But the pilot says they all check out good now, so we’re ready to press on with our day.
Apparently, plastic lecterns don’t have the same natural anti-Jinx powers of wood. Maybe it’s something like Monty Python and the Holy Grail. “Did you knock on it, and you were not jinxed? Then SHE’S A WITCH! BURN HER!”
I make it a point to jinx us as often as possible. “Well, we know that the mission software will all be accounted for and ready to go when we get to the jet!”
Or, “You know there will be perfect data-link connections with all the other participants.”
“All the radios will be loud and clear all day… of course they will! Why wouldn’t they be?”
Aircrew usually end up with a nickname of some kind, a handle based more often than not on some profound mistake that serves as the basis for a great story. My friends call me Jinxie now. That’s mine. They want me to watch my mouth, and they glare at me when I make an innocent joke about diverting to a different airfield or cancelling a flight because of some catastrophic emergency.
To be fair, both of those events were pure coincidence.
“Be careful what you wish for,” I suppose. My friends would agree with that ubiquitous logic.
That’s when it hit me. I should be careful. Why not use these powers for good?
“We’ll probably find another tanker for air refueling since we can’t meet up with the first one as planned.”
Nope! No tankers available right now; they’ve all given up their fuel loads to other aircraft.
You’re telling me that in the absolutely largest logistic organization of the most powerful, worldwide-capable Air Force, where we provide millions of pounds of JP-8 jet fuel every day, we cannot possibly find one tanker that has just a bit of gas?
“That convoy is going through the thickest concentration of insurgent positions with snipers, RPGs, IEDs, and every other God-forsaken acronym, all of them looking to spill American blood. Our boys are in for trouble.”
Morbid, maybe. But go with me on this.
Those guys drive right through the hottest part of eastern Afghanistan, where we’ve been seeing troops in contact with enemy forces every single day for the last two months… and today, not a peep.
Maybe the bad guys are busy picking poppies today. Maybe they’re meeting to protest girls attending school in the classrooms the Coalition built. Maybe they’re busy with young Afghan boys. I don’t know or care.
All I know is our guys got through safe, despite me naming every bad situation I could think of.
Or maybe because of it?
Either way, jinx. Insha’Allah.
“You’ve got a gift; use it well.” Of course, my Dad was talking about playing piano, but the meaning still applies. “With great power comes great responsibility.” Yeah, Spider-Man was probably talking about something else too. But you get the point.
We always brief that every crewmember has a voice. if you see something happening that doesn’t look right or safe, speak up about it.
My handle is Jinxie, and I plan to speak up a lot.