I had a lovely day today with my wife and our friend wandering around various cultural pursuits held as fringe events around Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games. On the train on the way home we fell into conversation with one of the Games volunteers who in her regular life is an air traffic controller. She told us what it is like to control the air.
Things I learned:
1 Pilots have to be polite. I mean really polite if they want to get anywhere. The Controllers totally call the shots. Bit sniffy to HQ – there goes your shortcut. Friendly greeting – you’re straight through! I had no idea that personal interaction was such a bit part of it and that Controllers had that much discretion to permit and deny. I assumed a lot of it was automated and Air Traffic Controllers had a more responsive role, managing the traffic. The pilots may be all suave with us over the PA but when they report to the Air Traffic team that’s when they really need to turn on the charm. I find this reassuring. The system is more human, more authentic and sensible than I had imagined. The system encourages respect, kindness and warmth. I want a respectful, kind and warm pilot. Not an arrogant shouty one who doesn’t have to put in any effort.
2 When Stawberries start to ‘go over’ (from what I could gather this was a Leicester version of ‘go off’) you should heat a little balsamic vinegar in a pan and add the strawberries. Do not add sugar. Once it is heated through take off the strawberries and pour over ice cream, fruit or have on their own.
Would this conversation have happened without the Commonwealth Games?
No it wouldn’t.
Could the shaking up of a newly independent Scotland, with adjustments and changes throwing new groups of people together create a lot more random encounters like this with new insights gleaned?
Yes it could.