Just Being Helpful

Recently I was talking to Julien of Making Time for Flying and he mentioned that his wife was from the same part of Germany as I am. He had never flown into the local airfield there and I was able to reassure him that it is a very nice airfield with easy access and friendly ATC and staff. It reminded me of an older blogpost I wrote about a staff member who was perhaps a little bit too helpful. So this week, something from the archives: Fear of Landing » Just Being Helpful originally posted in September, 2008

Cliff taxied the plane over to the pumps and I hopped out to get us some fuel.

“I’ll get out in a moment,” Cliff said. “I just want to put our route into the GPS first.”

“No problem.”

I walked over to the tiny booth behind the pumps and tapped at the door. A pale round face peered out at me.

“Hi,” I grinned. “We radio’d to say we needed some fuel?”

He chewed his bottom lip and then nodded. “How are you going to pay?”

I paused for a quarter second and he started listing the payment methods they would accept.

“Credit card,” I interjected quickly.

“We only take VISA and Mastercard,” he said with a frown.

“VISA is fine.”

“OK,” he said and finally came out of the hut. “We don’t take American Express though.”

I presumed he’d had a bad experience with a previous client. I nodded in what I hoped was a reassuring manner.

He put on a large pair of goggles and walked over to the tanks. Then he stopped and stared at the plane. I scuttled over to him.

He nodded at Cliff. “The pilot will need to disembark,” he said, distaste dripping from every word. “I can not start until he exits the plane.”

I nodded and walked to the plane to tap in the window. Cliff climbed out of the plane and then watched as the man reset the pumps. He glanced around to make sure no one was near the plane and then hooked the earth wire to the front before wandering back to the pumps to pulling the hose out.

“Could have finished by now,” muttered Cliff.

One last look around to make sure everyone was in position and finally he was ready to offer us fuel.

He filled one side and called Cliff over. He handed him the cap to screw in and watched Cliff close the tank. “You should have checked it,” he said.

Cliff looked at him blankly.

“The fuel. You didn’t check the level before closing the tank.”

“I did,” growled Cliff. The man shrugged and moved over to the other wing. He then smiled at Cliff and held up the cap.

“Check the level and then close it!”

I sniggered as Cliff stalked over and closed the tank under the man’s watchful eyes. Once he was happy that Cliff had done his job correctly, he rolled up the hose, took off his goggles and asked us to follow him to the hut.

He smiled as the credit card transaction went through without a hitch. Another potential crisis averted through proper planning. Cliff signed and we turned to go back to the plane when the man put his hand on Cliff’s shoulder.

“Your safety stickers,” he said, shaking his head. “They are old.”

Surprised, we walked out to the plane to look at our decals. They seem fine: big print stating AVGAS ONLY, a picture of a pump and Grade 100LL written underneath. Everything you need to know to to ensure someone doesn’t fill the tanks full of jet fuel.

The man waved a sheet at us with two bright red squares saying AVGAS. “It says AVGAS on our stickers already,” complained Cliff.

“Yes, but they are getting dirty around the edges. These are new.” He pressed the stickers into my hand. “You can put them next to yours if you want but I think replacing them would be better.”

I searched for a response that would get us out of here. “I will,” I told him. “But the wings are so dirty now. I will go wash the wings and put the stickers on once they are clean.”

His chest swelled with satisfaction. He patted me on the arm. “That’s a good idea,” he said and retreated back to his hut.

Category: Excerpts,

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