Being Who you Are

Let me ask you a very important question. This should not be taken lightly. Indeed, making the wrong choice could mean bodily harm, dismemberment, abrasions, burns, lacerations, and a very expensive trip to the emergency room.

Do you buy fireworks from the guy with the eye patch, missing three fingers, and limps when its raining outside?

Interesting enough, according to Facebook, this is the guy that sells the best fireworks. Yes, I know this is a joke. However, it did get me to thinking about stereotypes. Truth is, no matter how hard we all try to be individuals, we are on multiple fronts part of a category of people, whether by occupation, hobby, or the mere fact that you put on one blue and one red shoe. I guarantee that you can find a forum somewhere on the internet for wearing mis-matching shoes, please look it up and let me know.

There are plenty of negative stereotypes with plenty of people to harp on their soap boxes trying to banish them. So I do not want to write about the negative categories, and any mention of a stereotype from here forward is meant in humor, joy, and generally to celebrate the categories that you or I might actually be proud to be typecast.

Let’s start with myself. I am a pilot. I therefore naturally wear Ray-Ban’s, talk like Chuck Yeager on the radio, have a pair or two of boots in the closet, and a leather bomber jacket, But I do not fly as a career, only recreation, which means I fit another category – the vintage aircraft owner. Naturally, my home office looks like it should be adjacent the airplane hangar. Vintage signs, old books, and airplane propellers line the walls. The new stereo, being 80’s vintage, sits on a 1930’s radio cabinet. Everything about my office and hangar shouts back to the 1930’s and 1940’s. And that’s what I love about it, it’s me, it’s a stereotype, and I am proud of it all.

Pilots, like me, and most that I know down at the airport, are very similar. Sure, we all have our private taste in aircraft, decoration, clothing, only occasionally dressing  alike and completely by accident I assure you. But let’s also be clear; we all have a bomber jacket and Ray-Ban’s – the only proper attire for flight in vintage aircraft. So, when the weather is perfect, the boys and girls come out to play. Our eyes, beneath our shades, start to sparkle in the setting sunlight. The stink of oil and gas fills the light breeze, and even if our bank accounts feel a little light, we’ll manage a couple hundred bucks for fuel to our planes. Engines will roar in a wash of blue oily smoke. Those not able to fly, will stand out in the grass, or silently gaze across the hot bar-b-q, always raising their heads to see an aircraft and pilot take to the air. When the pilot lands, there will be a joke or a quip, like the one I heard yesterday evening: “That first approach as a bit fast. Had to go around again.” Of course, for us, we watched his first “high speed” approach with huge smiles on our faces; a wink and nod to the Aviator.

The Airfield for most of us is a place to be that stereotype, wearing it proudly on our chest, and no one judges us for our passion. Everyone there understands it. Same would go for the car people, dog people, antique people, and dare I say the horse people. Go to a car show to see car people, a rescue shelter for the dog people, and Kentucky or New Zealand to meet a horse person. The trick is knowing where we all fit in, the right time and the right place. It’s here that we share the same common interest, and thus we are truly free to express our inner feelings on the subject. Typecast, surely, but not belittled, ridiculed, or shamed. Just be careful, in the wrong setting and with the wrong people, you’re just an obsessed obscure fanatic.

So, back to the original question. Should you buy fireworks from the one-eyed, seven finger, limping man? Yes is the answer, especially if you like things that wake your neighbors at midnight and keep your rescue beagles restless. Just remember, that man has a passion for explosions, enough to prevent him from getting a good job with decent healthcare that could have saved a couple of those fingers or that eye. So, be sure to buy some extra long sticks to light those fireworks. Point them away from other people. Please don’t end up on YouTube or Facebook with everyone laughing at you. That’s a community that prays on typecasts.

Happy 4th!






  • I met Harrison Ford recently and I joked with him that he was the reason I got into archaeology, but how I quickly learned that the job is actually hard and the pay is shit. So I quit and took up flying airplanes instead. He laughed and said, “Well, at least you got to keep the leather jacket.”

    Mine is more of a brown leather motorcycle type jacket than a bomber, but I still fit the stereotype. And am perfectly fine with that 🙂

    • I’m envious of your encounter with Dr Jones! I won’t tell you how many fedoras and jackets I really have! Ha

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