C: Say, my man! How have you been?
D: Busy busy. You?
C: Can’t complain. I got a new job, and it’s the middle of a recession.
D: What’re you doing?
C: I’m a greeter at Best Buy.
D: Greeter!! Best Buy doesn’t have greeters! They just have those scary looking guys who make sure you’re not shoplifting.
C: (Slightly hurt.) Well they call us greeters.
D: Maybe you should put a little flower in your lapel. Then you’d look more friendly.
C: I don’t know about that. They don’t want their greeters to look too friendly.
D: Why not?
C: Then people might want to take things! If you make customers feel like they’re being watched, they won’t rob you.
D: They might not buy stuff, either.
C: Look at WalMart. Do you think friendly greeters mean bigger sales without much increase in shoplifting?
D: We should ask ’em. I figure if it’s WalMart, they know what they’re doing.
C: Best Buy seems to be doing okay, too. So I don’t ask any questions.
D: Don’t you want to hear what I’ve been doing?
C: Course I do. What’ve you been doing?
D: I got a job as an air traffic controller!
C: How can you do that? You don’t have any training for that!
D: They give you on the job training. No experience necessary!
C: I don’t believe it. You can’t just go in there and start controlling air traffic!
D: Well it’s a pretty long training program. I don’t actually control traffic until I’ve been there two weeks. I don’t go solo until six weeks.
C: Six weeks! How long have you been at it?
D: Almost six months. I’m getting to be an old hand already. Most of the senior guys left.
C: How come?
D: Well listen to this. The first day I was in there, the manager comes in to announce that the airport’s gonna build four new runways. That means the number of airplanes that arrive and depart every day will at least double.
C: Gee, how can one airport expand so quickly?
D: I don’t know about that. But they put that asphalt down in about two months, baby.
C: So you already have the increased traffic?
D: You betcha. It’s great. We land one plane about every three minutes. Same for takeoffs.
C: I don’t see how you guys do it.
D: Guys? It’s just me and Betty at the screens.
C: How can two people handle that many aircraft?
D: The second week I was there, the manager came in and said they were going to let go most of the staff. Recession, you know.
C: Good Lord! You can’t double the size of the airport and cut the air traffic control staff to two people! That’s crazy!
D: We haven’t had one crash yet.
C: Yeah, but when you do have an accident, who’s going to get blamed?
D: Not me.
C: How do you know?
D: It’s in my contract: I have a liability waiver.
C: That’s great. I bet the families of the victims will love to hear that.
D: I don’t think we’ll have any victims. We’ve had some close calls, but that’s par. We don’t have any accidents.
C: You don’t have any accidents, until you have an accident. How can you tell you’ll keep a perfect record?
D: We’re just good at what we do.
C: Great. What about those close calls? Don’t they add some strain to your work?
D: What adds strain is that the pilots don’t do what we tell them to do! They just do whatever they like!
C: But they’re supposed to follow your orders!
D: Well they pretend to follow my orders. But most of the time they just work according to their own routines. Sometimes my requests and their routines match up. Other times they don’t.
C: What do you do when they don’t?
D: I try to persuade them to do what I tell them to do.
C: You don’t have time for that!
D: And how. I tell them that. They try to humor me. They tell me they’ll get to it as soon as they can.
C: Get to what? They’re landing an airplane!
D: I know, I don’t get it either.
C: So you just hope they do something that’s safe?
D: We try to negotiate things the best we can.
C: Don’t you get stressed out? New runways, more aircraft, less staff, busy pilots. You actually seem to like this work.
D: I sort of like it, and I sort of don’t. You can get used to anything, you know.
C: Didn’t Abraham Lincoln say that?
D: I think so. He was a pretty wise guy.
C: I wonder if he would’ve been a good air traffic controller?
D: I hope not! Then I’d lose my job!
C: No problem, Dio. You’ve got that job in the bag.
D: Tell that to Betty! She got her notice yesterday.