This classic strip idea came from back when I was still very actively working as an airplane mechanic at a little flight school. We were working on all kinds of planes of all shapes and sizes and also had a lot of “squawks” from students that turned out not to be a problem with the aircraft at all (for example, the transponder rarely transmits a return in the “OFF” mode). In the midst of all this small flight school madness I had students and instructors alike stop by on their way back from the flight line (the hangar happened to be between the ramp and the office) and just verbally tell me what they had found wrong on their plane that day. It was convenient for them and who wants to ground the airplane for something that might not turn out to be a big deal, right?! But guess how much of that I remembered if 12 people told me something about 5 different planes all while doing 2 different inspections on 2 more planes?
The other guys and I actually got in the habit of just responding with “Huh! That’s interesting” to every one of the squawks and concentrated on the ones that were written down and came to us through a work order. It was the only way to keep us on track without getting pulled into a hundred different directions. Also, it worked in our favor if something didn’t get fixed and the pilots complained. We asked them “Well, did you write it down?” and they said “No, but you said you’ll take a look” or “you said you’ll fix it”. Then we could say “Did I really say that? Or did I just say – Huh! That’s interesting” ? HAHA
Let me start out with wishing all of you a HAPPY 2017! Turning over a new leaf is always exciting! May 2017 bring you great times and adventures! I’ve been very busy in the last couple of days so I didn’t get to blog quite as much. Luckily my brother can take over these duties. We both appreciate everybody tuning in every week and all of your comments / ideas / stories. Please keep them coming!
Before you say Chuck should already know all the parts of an engine, which he probably does, I want to add that today’s strip mainly describes a feeling. It’s that feeling you get (and it happens a lot in aviation but I bet a lot of you working other jobs will be familiar with it as well) when somebody who has no idea what you are doing decides to take it upon himself to help out. It is usually totally unsolicited and most of the time more annoying than helpful. Then you fix what you were working on and they take a lot of credit for helping even though they had nothing to do with the outcome. Most of those individuals seem to also be the “Have you tried turning it off and then back on again?” type of guys as well I have found.
Has this happened to you before?
So, as briefly mentioned last Friday, this is the very last strip of the very first book. We are now over thousand strips further down the road and in the middle of working on the newest book. That’s right! There will be a new Chicken Wings book this summer! We’re not 100% sure when exactly but we are happy to report that the biggest hurdles (printing being the main one in the bunch) have been overcome and that we are now getting closer to finalizing lose ends every day.
You guys helped a great deal with the cover a while back, which we highly appreciate since discussing the cover also seems to always hold us up a bunch. And then there is just some good old procrastination involved as well (“procrastination”, the art of keeping up with yesterday) with the real life changes we went through in the last two years that made the cartoon world having to wait.
As for today’s strip: Since these comics were originally designed to just be passed around the office and were often based on real life events involving real life mechanics and pilots, we had to clean up the language a little in order to be able to have all ages read our stuff. But you can pretty much imagine what originally said on the last panel 😉
In this case I can almost relate to Hans more than Julio. The last two times we moved I was away on the job when my wife was setting up the kitchen. It took me weeks to figure out where everything is. In fact I still don’t know where some of the stuff is in our current kitchen. Add to that my advanced stage of CRS, I am really lost a lot of times. However I do know how to make coffee 😉
Have you ever had your friends, or even better, your kids, help you with a project? It can be a lot of fun but the “productivity level” is not always as high as it could be.
It seems that especially in aviation, the more people show up to “help”, the more the project is getting discussed rather than actually worked on. I seem to have walked away in the past with the aircraft looking exactly like it did in the morning. But somehow I was many opinions, thoughts, ways, and ideas on what to do and exactly how richer 😉
There was a time when I was maintaining aircraft at the same school I was also working as flight instructor. It was a great way to keep busy and support my flying habit on days when there were no flight lessons scheduled. Every now and then one of my students would find his or her way into the hangar and often the questions that always came with students weren’t far behind. Some even offered to “help” so they can get more experience with the aircraft. But a lot of times I had to keep the answers very short as I was on the clock for the shop and the shop didn’t pay for me to give free instruction. Some students held it against me even, and in a different world I would have loved to keep chatting, but the inspections would have taken way longer and “the real Hans” would not have been pleased.
We often worked at night when everybody else went home already to get a lot of uninterrupted work done. I guess my point was that I can relate to Julio in this scenario. It’s nice to dig in and just get stuff done without interruptions and without anybody “helping”, even if they mean well …
Since I have seen both side of this coin, I do feel for the mechanics. This happened to me plenty of times in my younger years. The pilot landed and walked away while I was there all night fixing the helicopter. And now, almost exclusively working as a pilot, I try not to be “that guy” for that exact reason. Yet there are times, after flying a noisy helicopter all day, looking into the sun, on a busy fire with many aircraft to watch out for, and no air-condition in the aircraft, when you just have to walk away at the end of the day because you would probably do more damage than good if you stuck around trying to swing tools. Also, and this might be an age thing or the fact I have a far better and prettier half, I don’t go chasing girls after a day like that anymore but rather seek a cold beer and then a clean bed pretty much right away.
There is one thing I have always thought is funny about aviation seminars. It’s the difference between mechanic seminars and pilot seminars. I have been to both. On a mechanic seminar, when it was said that it starts at 8 am, it almost always started right at 8 am with everybody sitting down, pencil in hand. On pilot seminars, … not so much. At 8 am they would still be trickling in, find other pilots they know, catch up on the latest rumors, grab another cup of coffee, stand around chatting, until around 8:20 the speaker would try to get everybody to shut up and sit down so we can get started with the meeting 😉
Have you ever had somebody “helping” you and their “help” kinda made things even harder? I sure have and I am certain a lot of you will be able to relate. Some people have that natural tendency to make things way more complicated than they need to be.
One of my faves as mechanic was students coming into the hangar and asking question after question after question. In the beginning I always answered them because that is just the guy I am. But it always got me into trouble with the boss (Hans?) because my efficiency as mechanic was going down and I wasn’t really getting paid to answer question but to fix airplanes. I think a lot of interaction between Chuck and Julio stem back from that time in my life. And in the long run I probably did better as flight instructor since I do love to talk and answer questions. So it turned out to be the perfect job for me 😉
I have worked for many operators over the years and seen many different ways of how they deal with aircraft parts. I have encountered everything from small operator parts rooms where you just walk in and sign out your part, to massive operators where the internal system is so sluggish it takes you almost a day to get the part after filing your way through numerous TPS reports and parts requests. “Parts trace-ability” is a big word in aviation and in my mind very important.
Either way you want to go though, one thing I have learned is that it is never a good idea to let pilots in a parts room. Especially when you have Chuck as your pilot! 😉
Also, I really like the pink child gate Julio put on the door in 2004…
Whenever you’re working on something, be it a car, plane or other machine, or when you’re cooking or doing repairs in the house, there’s nothing better than having a henchman who’s actively thinking along and ahead, and already has the right tool ready for you when you need it. My father in law is a great example for that. Working with that man is a pleasure! And no, I’m not sucking up, I don’t think he reads this blog!
Chuck isn’t doing that bad either here. And I am sure most of us would probably have walked away at the same point.
I also try to be a good henchman whenever there’s a call for it. And an important trait for an henchman is to know your position. Don’t wander off trying to do something else productive, but rather focus on your supporting role and facilitate the main person’s work. Oh, and don’t give too much or uncalled for advice. Execute orders faithfully… Are there “commandments for good henchmen” out there? Do you know other important points?