New York, Monday 10-2-95 1100 local (Z-4)
I returned here from Amsterdam last evening hoping to get to go home for a day or so. However, such was not to be. You may remember from my last message that I didn't get to bid last month and thus wound up on reserve. Well, now the other shoe has fallen, and I've been assigned the type of trip we all try to stay away from - India - some runs between Frankfurt and New Delhi and Bombay, with most of the time spend just sitting in India. As the saying goes, somebody has to do the dirty work, but had I been able to bid, I would have been able to stay away from it since there are 20 guys below me.
AND to do this, they took away all my X days (soft days off) and one of my XX days (hard days off). They're only allowed to take XX days for a "company emergency". I doubt this qualifies as a company emergency, but when you're still on probation there's not much you can do about it. I am going to talk to them and try to get them to slide my days off later into the month, especially the one XX day. On the 10th of this month, I will have worked for Tower for 6 months and thus will qualify for pass privileges for Jean and myself. We had been planning to take my XX days and go to Tel Aviv and drive around Israel. Removing the XX day and the X days that were immediately before puts a crimp in that plan.
Had an interesting thing happen at Amsterdam just before departure. Mike Broere, the Dutchman interested in my weight & balance program, came on the airplane to get a diskette I had prepared for him during the overnight there. He's used to moving about the Schipol (that's the airport name) ramp and into the airplanes unfettered since he has a ramp pass (he's an employee of Avia Presto there). However, he had never had occasion to approach a Tower Air aircraft. Surprise! It caused a security alert. He was intercepted and escorted to the cockpit where I had to verify his story that he was coming to get a diskette from the first officer on the flight. Actually, I'm happy to learn that the security is that good.
Schipol Airport in Amsterdam may well be the world's best airport insofar as security is concerned. In 1995 two airlines were considered to be at risk for terrorist attack: El Al Israel and Tower Air. At Schipol flights from those carriers were met leaving the runway by two armored armed vehicles. One vehicle would be positioned in front of the airplane and one at the tail, and they escorted the aircraft to the gate. When the aircraft departed, they would escort it to the runway.
I slept a little over 12 hours last night. That was good. I had fallen into what I call the half day mode. You get into this state where you can only sleep about 4 hours, but then you're good only for about 8 hours awake before feeling really awful. It's happened to me before when my body gets totally confused. Most unpleasant, but last night's sleep in a very quiet, completely dark situation broke the cycle - I hope. I did wake up several times, but persisted in sleeping - wild dreams.
Oh, yes, France's nuclear tests and our government's reaction to them is causing me problems. Don't laugh! It's true. In response to the U.S. formal protest concerning France's nuclear tests (a protest I agree with incidentally), France has slapped a requirement for a visa on all U.S. citizens coming to France. So, I'm now stuck with another visa requirement. This is particularly annoying since Tower Air pays only for the actual visa fee charged by the country's embassy or consulate but not for any processing fee. That's already cost me $60 that I can't get reimbursed for. That was the fee the outfit in Washington, D.C. charged for processing my Brazilian visa. Tower will reimburse me for the $70 that the embassy charges but that's it. What all this means is that you either pay yourself or waste a day getting each visa by personally visiting each country's embassy or consulate - that means another day away from home, and it's typically a day of your off time. I will, of course, simply pay rather that was a day off.
Of course, you can gamble that you won't be commercialling into the country. If you come into a country as an operating crew member, visas typically are not required. But if you're coming in as a passenger to operate a flight out of the country, visas are required. So, you can gamble that Tower will not be commercialling you into a country. But if they do, and you haven't gotten a visa, they have to replace you with another crew member and you get a reprimand. Currently Brazil, France and India are requiring them. India is particularly bad since they will give a visa that's good for only 90 days.
Enough bitching and moaning for the moment.Terry