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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Monday Motivation: Abundance

"Today, let me be willing to face up to all the lack and limitation I have grown to believe surrounds me. And within it, let me come to realize and appreciate the true abundance of all that - not just surrounds me, but is within me too."


During my last trip, I had the opportunity to fly with a Captain I'd flown with a year ago. This situation is amazing for a few reasons. I am based in Seattle, and he is in Detroit. I have flown so little, for me to fly with the same pilot twice, out of base, is unusual. This wasn't his scheduled trip... Something happened in the universe to unexpectedly delay the regularly scheduled captain's passport from arriving.  What are the odds? 

Note: If you haven't figured it out yet... until we learn the lessons presented to us, they will keep coming at us. I'm not sure what my lesson was, but hopefully I faced it and I won't fly with him again. 
It's standard practice for the crews go out to eat together on their layovers. The last trip it took me 8 days and about $60 out of pocket to figure out why the bill was continually being shorted. I covered it. I would never allow a waitress to be stiffed. It wasn't long until I learned the other First Officer was doing the same, and he had a severely handicapped son at home going in debt with medical bills.  I promised myself if I ever flew with this person again, I would tell him, "I'm not going out with you because I cannot afford you." Or... "I'm not your wife."

Guess what... I didn't say anything, and I went out with the crew! Our student, and the other First Officer were wonderful people. As is this Captain... except one small flaw. He's flawed. 

He took advantage of the table again. Shuffling bills, and making it appear that he'd done a math error. I was watching. Each of us had put in 20 Euros and he put in a 50 and took out two 20s. I immediately pulled out two 10 Euros, took one of his 20s that he took from the pot, gave him a 10 and put an additional 10 in the pot. This at least held him accountable to put 20 Euros in like the rest of us. I didn't have dinner, but I didn't mind sharing. I believe and live with a generous heart. We cannot take it with us.

I'd also loaned him money for bus fare. Normally not a big deal, but on the return, I asked him for the 1.50 Euros to repay me. And mentioned that I hadn't eaten dinner and that our other First Officer, had purchased appetizers and refreshments for all and was out and additional 10 Euros. He asked if I wanted some money. I said, "yes." He laughed, and that was the end of that conversation.

Note: He had told the student to get a debit card with a 1% fee verses 2% because he'd figured out he could save $200 a year. I was so tempted to ask him how much he saved stealing from his fellow crew members...but I didn't.
Captain's financial Status:
This "captain" told me on our first trip that he flies on average 130 hours per month. He's learned how to manipulate the system to get high time. He's married to a wife "with money." He also makes an additional rather large stipend from having students each month.

Concerns with his behavior:

My concern with his cheating on the check has nothing to do with his lack of integrity, greed, or ethics, but everything to do with his positional power. He is a check airman. He has the power to take a pilot's license from them, or to make their life hell if he chooses. Thus, making it difficult for anyone to say anything to him. Their job will be on the line if they do.

1. adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.
2. the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished: to preserve the integrity of the empire.
3. a sound unimpaired, or perfect condition: the integrity of a ship's hull.
  • What makes a person behave this way?  
  • Could this be a sickness like a kleptomaniac?  
  • What makes a person believe they don't have enough wealth and abundance, when they brag about their life being overly financially abundant?  
  • What would you do if you were faced to fly with this pilot in a situation similar to this?
  • When your company values integrity as a core philosophy, would this lack of integrity be grounds for dismissal?
  • Have you ever been faced with a situation like this?
  • Is this a game of power, control, or he who dies with the most wins? 
Enjoy the journey and remember to live with abundance, because abundance will come to you. 
XOX Karlene


  1. Count me lucky, I've only been stiffed by someone for the dinner check once, for $40 about 20 years ago. It's something you don't forget, if you're the one stiffed. He recently got tenure at the Naval Postgraduate School—he is an expert in his field. I think he forgot about paying me back because he was busy, but he did act a bit entitled. (He told my boss at the time he wouldn't work for us for less than $200K/yr., which was 5X what I was making.) I made a mental note to avoid dinners with him. I definitely would not put up with someone who makes this a habit. Is the person you describe the line's only check pilot? Can you talk with other check pilots (his peers) to get them to talk to him?

    1. You don't forget. I really try to live a life of forgiveness, but that doesn't mean forgetfulness. Along the journey, there was definitely a discussion with a check captain. I do believe the nice term used for this pilot was, "Sky Pig."

      The funny thing is, I want to psychoanalyze him... find out why he ticks the way he does. He definitely is going to be in my next book.

      I don't think anyone should ever forget to pay someone back. At least make the effort. Thanks for your comment.

    2. Heres a thought.. This kind of person will probably buy the book.. And when it becomes a movie they will watch the movie and tell all of his friends.. Thats me..That character was me... I did that.... And then.. After it gained then they will want to pay you back because...I know them.. now their famous.. =) Just a thought...

    3. Lol. Oh knowing him as well as I do, now... He won't buy the book, but figure a way to get a free copy. Then, if he recognizes himself, he'll want royalties. I might have to do my secret plan when I ad the character. :)

  2. I can't help trying to psychoanalyze inappropriate behavior either, Karlene, mainly because it's kind of shocking. But the two solutions to how to deal with it that you suggest are the best ideas: staying away from the person as much as possible; and if you do get stuck spending time with them, not letting them get away with the bad behavior (through assertiveness rather than anger). Here's hoping you don't have to ride with him again.

    1. Thanks Linda, I hope that my confronting him on a small scale will make it so I won't have to deal with him again. But it's an interesting dilemma as how to deal with someone like this when you come across them for the first time. We can stay away...once we know. Yes, not becoming angry is the first step. I think I feel more empathy. I know what Darby would say to him.

  3. What an a... How is the weather back home K. ???

    1. Yes! And, it's raining. The summer came and went while I was on the road. But the plants love the all is good.

  4. Firstly, what an ass. Pardon my language. I really dislike people who use their power or position to incite financial loss, pain, and especially jealousy. It's a shame that folks with a good heart have to suffer at the hands of someone so unethical, especially with someone with a disabled son. I can only imagine a pilot making zilch having to pay for ABA therapy for their autistic or disabled son which runs on average 200 dollars an hour. I know this as I am in the field. What I will say is this, the Captain may think he's getting away with it in this world, the next realm is a different story. I hope that gives people like us with a heart and a conscious some hope. P's, Kudos to you Karlene for always doing what is right.

    1. Hi Jeremy, we can only try to do what's right. It is a shame when someone takes advantage. I think this is as close to a manager raping an employee as we can get. Violation on a financial level, but the employee is unable to speak out, and taken advantage of beyond their will. He's definitely got problems. Like Linda said, "we can't get angry." But we do need to learn how to deal with people like this.

      There is an element of Karma in this realm too. So, he's not getting away with anything. It's just a shame that others have to go through loss during his journey.

      Thank you so much for your comment. And for all the concern and care you give in this world.

  5. Karlene, this is bad. But I'm not sure what I would do if I were in your shoes. Of course we always strive to do the right thing, but when what's right can leave you with trouble (after all, he is a Check Air Man).

    Taking advantage over someone like that, is financial rape, if you ask me.

    Again, I'm not sure if I would stand up and speak out, because of the dilemma with him having authority over you.

    Very difficult indeed, but I guess with support from others, and affirmations that "what you do is the right thing" - that can push us far, and make us go through tough struggles without our integrity damaged.

    1. Thank you for your comment Cecilie. I agree, financial rape. And it is hard to know what to do. You understand the repercussion of what speaking out would cause. Therefore, this indicates the severity of what he's done. I'm not sure if he understands how unethical his behavior is. I'm certain due to his position, this could be a legality issue too. It's quite interesting.

      Thank you for your comment.

      I'm wondering if women who were raped by an manager were afraid to speak out too.

  6. If I was standing behind the Captain/Check airman when he was pulling that stunt, I would have manually took his hand (manual correction) and guided his hand back into his wallet to place the money back into the pile. Then say to him, "This is being honest and nice to your friends and coworkers." If he threw a tantrum, which I guarantee would happen, then a DRO would be in place (Differential Reinforcement of Other Behavior) by demoting his status until he cooperates nicely with his team then when he is able to work nicely with everyone, he can go back to being his original title again. If his behaviors escalate, then a consequence will be in place until his negative attention seeking behaviors are reduced and or extinct so that he can go back to being the mature adult that this individual is meant to be.

    ABA therapy. It's not just for individuals on the Autism spectrum, it's for everyone. Especially immature adults.

    1. I love this. Perhaps we should train pilots for DRO, and ABA therapy for situations like this on the line. Thank you for sharing your experience in your field with inappropriate line pilots. I really love this.

  7. "I immediately pulled out two 10 Euros, took one of his 20s that he took from the pot, gave him a 10 and put an additional 10 in the pot." Excellent move.

    "I was so tempted to ask him how much he saved stealing from his fellow crew members...but I didn't." You should have.(wake up call!)

    I assume that splitting the bill would have been fair to all (and the rest of the story seems to confirm that). Not being a drinker, I'll often have something like a chicken wrap and an iced tea, while others have steak and drinks (2+ times my share) I'll pay all of my portion (plus tip of course), but don't feel it's fair to subsidize the steak and drinks. Bottom line: always cover all you consumed.

    I suspect he feels he must amass as much money as possible in some period of time, chipping away at every opportunity. - SO, you psycho analysts out there....

    I would bet that his position of check airman was much more on the minds of his fellow diners than it was his.

    Talk to a chief pilot, and ALPA pro-stan. While somewhat tangential to their normal areas of concern, perhaps with multiple complaints, they could do a little "counseling."

    1. This is an excellent point. I suppose he doesn't think about that aspect of being a check airman. I think when our paths cross again, when we're not working together, I might just explain this to him. I wish we had an avenue to discuss situations with the chief pilot or Pro-stan... the problem is there will be repercussions. Nobody in the new world speaks about an officer. The sad truth. I suspect this gives great freedom and comfort to those out of control.
      Thanks for the comment!

  8. When I was divorced (she ran off with my neighbour - very old and rich) she held my engineering manuals and collection of aviation literature to ransom (value, c. 3,000, as it included a bound copy of 'The Aeroplane' Vol.1, covering Bleriot's first flight, and a copy of Octave Chanute's 'To Fly', but priceless to me) The cost? The whole of the house contents, including appliances...oh, and the 'his & hers' Volvos!

    Her new hubby died inside 18 months, allowing her to collect another house, etc, etc. Some people have the ability to operate inside a different moral framework to others, it seems.

    Despite being in severely reduced circumstances, I would still pay my share (and more) of any tab....but make sure to include a 'teaching moment' for that particular obnoxious individual!

    1. I am so sorry for all this. So much pain. I know a few people who are after one thing only- money. And you know that old saying you can't take it with you? Well, they will take a bunch of empty with them. Despite any circumstances, I too would always pay my share. That's all about integrity.
      Thanks for the comment.

  9. Kar, I think I flew with that guy!! Oh, no, wait - ten of them. But I flew with hundreds of nice guys...generous and more than generous captains with Northwest. Have you ever read "The Sociopath Next Door"?

    Very interesting behavioral study...I'm guessing he's there and loves pulling things over on people....oh, and the weather is windy here, but warm!! ;) Kathy

    1. Kath, this is a very interesting study. This my first and second... Hopefully I learned my lesson and he will be my last. Enjoy the sunshine. Wish I were there!

  10. Karlene, I really truly enjoyed reading this post.

    A lot could be said about this captain's behaviour, but it would not bring anything constructive to anybody..

    However, your take on this life lesson is tremendously important. Integrity should always be the #1 character trait anybody should strive to demonstrate. Weither you are a 777 captain or flight student, a president or a janitor, Integrity is the pillar for life, human relations, and professional duties.

    It's not always easy, and often tempting to take the easy way out. But Integrity is what will make every flight a success - in life or in the air.

    Thank you for such an inspiring post.

  11. JD, Thank you so much for this message. Integrity "is" something we should all strive to live by. You are so right... it doesn't matter who we are, or what position we are in. You could not have said this better.

    This person will leave a trail of resentment in his wake from all the people he took advantage of. One day he might understand. Or perhaps not. But all we can do is learn from his ways. It's true, sometimes people are great examples of what not to do.

    Thanks for your comment.


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