Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Musings on Why

I crossed paths with a guy at the airport today. He used to hang out in the office next to mine, providing mechanical support for one of the Lear Jets parked in the hangar. On a recent Thursday he came to work and was told Friday would be his last day...after 30 years. By Friday afternoon he had no benefits, no health insurance, and no income. To keep the bank from taking his house he was forced to accept the Company's offer of "contract work" at half his old per hour pay, come when they call, take it or leave it. It might not be enough to save his house, but it may put off the inevitable for a couple of months. Near the end of his career anyway, (like me) finding another job, particularly one in this area, is going to be nigh on impossible. A lifetime of effort and service dismissed without care, sacrificed to some department "bottom line" somewhere. It is every working person's nightmare come true.

I have a pilot friend who is in the same fix. Looking for any job he can find in order to keep the bank at bay long enough to find a flying job somewhere, anywhere, that he can afford to move to, is his full time occupation. Younger than I am and with with two kids at home, his horizons are looking bleak these days as well. Aviation is dying. The skill sets those of us who make a living in the sky developed to stay alive are not readily transferred to some other occupation.

There is an old saw that is not really funny anymore.
Question: "What do you call a pilot who is not sitting in a cockpit?"
Answer: "Unskilled labor."

What does all this have to do with Deb and I and little Nomad? Maybe not a lot. On the other hand, maybe more than it appears at first. Nomad isn't big, but we could live on her if we needed to. She can't sail oceans, but she can handle rivers and coastal cruising, at least for a while. (And as long as we are careful with the weather!) She isn't paid off either, but that we could manage even if we took a beating on the house, cars, motorcycles, tools, furniture and other sundry items that would not fit on a Com-Pac 27. We wouldn't end up quite where we are trying to go. But with a boat to live on, skills to trade for necessities, and destinations to sail toward, we would be 90% of the way. It wouldn't be ideal, but it would be better than a lot of people have and we would find a way to make it work.

(An aside for those who are thinking "health insurance." Yep, that would be a problem, but consider this. Regardless of how our health insurance is administered, be it "socialized medicine," profit only care driven by HMOs and insurance companies, or the ministrations of the local witch doctor; if we have the best of the best or none at all... We live, we get sick or hurt, and we die. And maybe, just maybe, those last few months or years, hanging on in pain, with diminished capabilities, minds gone, bodies out of control, racking up hundreds of thousands of dollars of bills that someone, somewhere, is going to have to pay, maybe that isn't the best we can do?)

So I'm thinking that is the "why" of trying to live on a boat. Isolated a bit from the tyranny of the "profit motive," (something I am finding more and more distasteful as I grow older) with maybe just a little distance between me and the shore where the "powers-that-be" hold absolute sway, low enough to be below the radar as it were, (In spite of mast height!) little Nomad offers an option, a place a bit safe and slightly out of reach of those who care nothing about me at all. Religious fanatics, political fundamentalists, the power hungry, those who are sure they know more about how I should live than I do, maybe they can't swim that well?

Besides, living on a boat is just plain cool.

1 comment:

John Loggins said...

"Besides, living on a boat is just plain cool. "

I approve this message...also otters.