Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Air Show Pilot Receives Portland Freelancer's Highest Award

Anytime you attend an event and as a direct result, they start talking about canceling the event forever, that deserves some recognition. That didn't even happen at my Prom. This is why I've granted the air show pilot the Portland Freelancer Award, for taking a scorched earth approach to the simple rules of polite social behavior. For example, it's always annoying when people just drop in. But I'm getting ahead of myself. First, some background on the award: From the time we were kids most of us have gone off to events with a cheerful farewell from Mom, and some advice: "Don't forget to say thank you" or "Make them glad you came." Despite this advice, some of us still fail to make a good impression. Sometimes there's an awkward reaction to our presence. Sometimes we act rudely and are thrown off the premises. A lot goes into being a good guest. This pilot, for example, failed to execute a key step in all social events: The graceful departure. There are many other ways for things to go wrong. One of the great institutions of social calamity used to be the office party. I personally witnessed a plastered executive end his career one night. He was given the job of arranging the picture-taking session, and he approached it like it was the Invasion of Normandy, ordering everyone around and making a gigantic fool of himself. Before it was over there was a sort of reception line of people extending their condolences to his wife. Indeed, office parties have recently generated so many lawsuits that corporations are shying away entirely, preferring a brunch or just canceling. So somewhere out there, I'm sure a party-goer has arrived at a Holiday event, behaved inappropriately, and then left on a Police Forklift. Who knows? The behavior could have resulted in a company's cancellation of all future parties of this type. In fact, I know it's happened, because I was present at one. After that night, we all got gift certificates the next year in lieu of a celebration. You might ask if this should get a shot at the same award? The answer is no. As with all things related to alcohol - the details sound funnier than it really was in person, and no awards will be granted for this sort of behavior.
But to take down an event the size of the air show? To make so many people say "Never again" by the simple presence of one man? That is amazing. That is literally having an impact. You know you have made a bad impression when it's in the ground. And you can really tell when some people won't be invited back. Now, I don't wish to diminish the man's death. He died doing something he loved, and except for the destroyed home, and the other damaged ones, no one else was hurt. Yes, the plane was old, but let's be clear: Despite the rumors, it is not true that it flew in the War of 1812. Okay, I'll admit it: This incident was mostly bad, but I'm sorry - I have to admire the scale. Let me try one more time. Let's say you show up at an event, and participate. One way to tell it didn't go that great is if an entire metropolitan area winds up debating whether to have this event ever again....I tell you, in my world of social skills, that is award-winning stuff. So from everybody who ever had an awkward moment in third grade or got tossed out of a bar, we salute this pilot. Well done. You might have said thank you before your departure, but I doubt if too many people are glad you came.


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