Saturday, August 13, 2011
Memories, Thoughts, and Emotions.
First off I would like to say that I am not a writer. I have a roommate who is an amazing writer that I try to get to do it for me on a lot of things but not this. I wanted to share a couple of my memories of a great friend in hopes that the ones who knew him will smile, those who didn't well I hope you smile too and wish everyone had a chance to meet him.
Last week I lost a dear friend, mentor, and storyteller. Joe Anduze was something else, there are about a million and a half words that can be used to describe him. Depending on whether or not you liked him those words could be good or bad. Everyone who knew Joe has some story to tell about something he did. I have a few but not as many as others since I only knew Joe for around 4 years.
When I first met him, he was an interviewer for the company. I was 20 years old, new to flying and trying to get my first "real job." Like many wonder pilots before me I was crazy nervous and this was the only thing that mattered most to me at the time. I had luckily made it through the first part of the interview process and was sweating bullets getting ready for the sim eval. That morning I had spilled some coffee on my nice white shirt. I didn't have time to iron and change shirts, but thankfully my jacket covered the spill. I went into flight safety to meet up with the other interviewees and get ready for the eval. Around 08:00, this angry looking guy came in and said alright let's get this over with, I thought to myself "great this ought to be fun." Joe took us to a room and started the brief. "I'm only going to say this once so listen up, pay attention, and take notes." He explained to us what would happen next, what to look for, what not to worry about, and we all piled in the sim. When it became my turn to fly Joe looked at me white knuckling the yoke and sweating. "Damn son, you need to relax. Take off your jacket and relax, this is the easy part of the interview." I calmed down some and then away we went. Right off the bat I was having a hell of a time managing the airplane. My scan was off, I was over correcting, getting frustrated, and sighing Joe just laughed. "Eric! Settle down its ok. Your doing fine, you are already hired. I just need to see you do a few things and we can all get out of here." I finally relaxed and was able to get back and finish the next few maneuvers Joe asked. As I was doing the last part of the eval (the ILS), Joe could see that I was finally relaxed and wanted to have some fun with me. BANG! I jumped in my seat and looked back at Joe so quick that it could have snapped my neck. He started yelling, "Boy do you want this job?! Do you think you can handle it?! Do you think you can handle hearing bags of ice being slammed against the wall as the flight attendant gets ready for the next flight while your flying an ILS down to minimums?!" I of course scared at this point I nervously replied "Yes sir I can!" He just laughed and said good, welcome to the company. I sat there just lost as to what just happened and was thinking, "did that really just happen?"
During training I met my roommate and a few others and we all moved out to "the farm." This place was not only our residence but became a way of life that I and the others will never forget. We had a grass strip, hanger with airplanes, a pool, lake, huge house, and make shift shooting ranges on top of 50 acres. Joe liked to come out and hang out with use anytime we had parties. He would always tell stories from his jobs as an Air Traffic Controller, Chief Pilot, pilot for an airline operated by a Certain Intelligence Agency, Maintenance Test Pilot and so many others which would have the entire party huddled around the bar to listen. I learned so much from this man with a beer in my hand, sitting on a stool "thinking can this shit he's feeding us be true"? I of course knew the answer was yes and was amazed at all the things this man had done.
Yesterday was the funeral. I couldn't help smile and tear up at not only the turn out of at least 100 people, the Joe stories, and all the great things people had to say about him. Joe's wife likes to say that Jeremy and I are his poster child/protege/(I'd even add problem child) pilots. I like to think that not only being raised up believing in hard work in life will get you every where, I also believe if it wasn't for Joe I would not be here and I definitely would not have done as well as I have here. After hearing so many stories of what other people have done wrong or right, I put that in to my work and strive to make sure that Joe was happy with his decision to hire me and make it a pay back to him for giving me a chance.
Joe I am going to miss you and your stories. I know your in a better place now and I thank you for everything. I really like what the priest said, "We come into this world crying while others are laughing. It's only fair to leave this world laughing while others are crying." I totally believe this and dammit I know he'd laugh and call me a pansy for crying as I remember all the great times we had but oh well.