Partner of a Pilot
The Candid Diary of an Airline Pilot’s Girlfriend

First Officer Bf, this is ATC, Please stop flying NORDO or I will scramble fighter jets and bring you down!

I am a worrier.  I’ll worry about anything.  In fairness to me though, I have experienced a fair share of trauma in life to justify this, and have learned the behaviour from my own mother at a young age.  As you will know if you read my last post, I was feeling a bit down when Bf went away for this trip. 

Another thing about me, it that my word is my promise. If I say I will do something, it is as good as a promise. Bf sometimes gets frustrated when I tell him I have to do something ‘because I promised’ when he knows that I didn’t actually state the word ‘promise’ to someone. Whilst he doesn’t make a habit of trying to let people down, he doesn’t seem to think it’s unacceptable to renague on plans he’s made when you didn’t ‘promise’ to keep them.  This attitude annoys me, because I like to know where I stand with people, and I try not to say or offer things that I can’t do.  

It’s probably because of this trait in me, that I tend to hold other people to their word. If someone says something; I take them at face value and believe them, and mentally hold them to it. Maybe I am naive or unusual; because  It has been the source of frustration and disappointment many times when people have set me false expectations that they’ve later left unfulfilled…

In our relationship, Bf and I make a point of saying ‘goodnight’ to one another wherever we are in the world if we’re apart. I ring him when I go to bed, and he’ll call me when he goes to bed. We’ve done it nearly every day we were ever apart since the day we first met, and I love it.  It makes us feel closer and more connected to one another.  He knows how much it means to me, so if I sleep through his text, he’ll ring me to ensure that I wake, so that we can speak.  You might think that’s mad; but I don’t mind interrupting my sleep to hear him say it. 

The first night he was away on this trip however, I woke to realise that it was 2:30am where he was (at that time he would have been up for 23 hours straight if he were still awake). I had missed his text but he hadn’t bothered ringing me-I was disappointed to say the least-especially considering the argument we’d had the day before he left, and the way I felt when we’d parted company at the airport. I rang him to discover he was pretty hammered after a night of drinking with the crew (that’s out of the norm for him).  He had passed out after texting me, without ringing.   After I stopped spitting nails over his lack of consideration, and he’d sobered up; we spoke again in the morning, and you’ll be pleased to know that we made up 🙂 

Well, last night (at my time here), Bf and I chatted. It was the afternoon where he is, and he was about to go out for a meal with the crew. He had texted me asking if I could ring, but I was in the middle of getting baby to bed, and by the time I rang; he was in a rush to get ready in time and told me that he’d call me later to say goodnight as usual; and would make time for a proper chat with me then. He also added:

“It won’t be a late one-we’re off out to some restaurant in town, and I think that the last bus back is not long after 9pm.”   

The time difference where he is, is 4 hours behind me.  I figured I’d likely hear from him around 10pm his time.  I should clarify that there is not an issue with what time he stays out until-I don’t mind what time Bf comes in, but I do like to have an idea of roughly what time to expect his call-because for some reason, I don’t sleep too well otherwise (I’m not sure why, maybe it’s a body clock thing?)

So, when I woke up at 4:30am (12:30am where he was) to realise that there was

  • no missed call and
  • no text

to say why he hadn’t called. I was pretty concerned and annoyed, since we’d only just had the conversation about not setting false expectations less than 48 hours prior.  I sent him a text asking him where he was? If he was okay, and mentioned that I was concerned that he’d not texted, since he’d told me he was going to be back much earlier.

I was pretty annoyed, because I was ill the day before, and he knew that I had to get up early for my day out in London with the kids today.  He text me back, saying that he was leaving soon, and asked if I was feeling any better.  I relaxed a little, and responded that I felt mildly better, and asked when he’d call.  He didn’t respond. He didn’t respond for over half an hour. By this stage, I was wide awake; and holding him to his word that he’d be back soon, I lay there awake, no point going back off to sleep, since he’d be calling shortly any way.  I lay there clock watching; because what else is there to do at 4/5am?

As I watched the time ticking away, clocking up to the hour; I lay there feeling more and more hurt and wound up that he was being so inconsiderate, and felt like he was completely taking me for granted.  Sure, I knew he was okay now; but it wouldn’t have taken 20 seconds to send me a text at 9:30pm reassuring me that he was safe and well, and telling me he’d be back later than planned. That way, instead of waking up startled and concerned, and worrying myself fully awake; I’d have seen his text, and drifted straight back off to sleep-knowing all was well.

When he failed to respond to my texts, I called him… He didn’t pick up.  I can tell you that if I could have reached down through my phone to him via his voice mail I would have strangled him right there!  Tired, stroppy and hurt; I lay there until I’d reached my limit of ‘fed up’, and texted him with

‘I NEED to get some sleep tonight darling. I’m not feeling well, I have to be up in 2 hours and I have a full day ahead. I’m sick of this inconsiderate behaviour, keep your promise to me-or I’m quitting on this BS right now!’

Okay, okay, it was a bit OTT, but in my defense, it was 5-FRIGGING-A.M. my time and he was about 3 and a half hours past his word. Plus, I think I’m entitled to feel pissy when I’ve had no bloody sleep, he knows I’m ill, and alone with 3 kids to look after at the crack of dawn, and he’s then had the audacity to tell me he’s just leaving, and then POOF! Nothing for an hour! Grrrrr.

He immediately responded, and said ‘OK, give me 15.’  That annoyed me even more-had he just been ignoring my other texts and calls, seeing how far he could push me?!   So I did just that… Held him to his word, ’15’:  I sent him a text every minute, counting down his time for him, “15” , “14” , “13” , “12” , etc… I did drop in a few cute remarks about how nice it’d be to FINALLY say goodnight, and get some restful sleep; and that I loved him-to take the edge off of the tone. I just wanted him to have a little bit of first hand empathy with how stressful  the time ticking away can feel-the way I did last night..

Well, he got back 5 minutes late-to a few extra sarcastic texts on his tardiness. He text me when he was there, saying “Bloody hell, I’m back now”

We both knew I was being pedantic and petty, but I was doing it to try to make a point.  So I rang and explained…

“Look darling, I know I might come off to you as an unreasonable bitch at times like this, but my point is-I don’t want you to set false expectations or feed me crap! I don’t mind WHAT time you come in-just be honest with me!  And I’m not going to get hacked off if there’s a change of plan, so long as IF things change, then you’ve had the decency to send me a courtesy text just so that I don’t wake and worry…  The countdown was to demonstrate to you how stressful it is to have nothing to do but stress over watching a the time.”

He seemed to get it. I didn’t bite his head off on the phone, because I knew he felt bad. He said that he just always gives me a ‘best case scenario’ and that in the future he wouldn’t do that; he’ll give a ‘worst case scenario’ instead.  We had a chat, and finally said good night properly. 

But I was still wide awake. I was laying there imagining him legging it back to his hotel room; mobile phone-beeping at him, counting down his minutes. I did feel (a bit) bad. But then I started to think about what he said about the ‘worst case scenario’ thing and thought… Well yes, that would be better, but why cant he just be straight with me?  How could I make him understand how I felt? And then it hit me: I’d speak to him in terms he’d get!  I was amused as I composed the following text:

“Haha, still thinking about you running, breathless to your room-that will teach you! Darling, you’re right to say that in the future you shouldn’t give me a ‘best case scenario’, because you’re setting up expectations that will probably be false-but that doesn’t mean you have to go to the opposite extreme! Treat me like a flight plan with ATC. Give me what you believe to the best of your knowledge to be a realistic ETA. If you happen to hit unexpected turbulence, or have unexpected delays-don’t fly NORDO… Radio ATC (that means text me, or I will be Agitated, Tired and Concerned), so that you keep me in the loop… Oh, and like ATC, you can expect that if I hear nothing from you, I’ll scramble the fighter jets and ‘take you down’! Haha… I’m hoping that message hits the spot darling! Love you loads, MWAH!”

For those of you who might not be into aviation acronyms, here is the translation

  • ETA – Estimated Time of Arrival
  • ATC – Air Traffic Control
  • NORDO – No Radio Contact

I think the humour approach worked well with him, but I also think that the analogy worked much better for him than my prior more personal approach. 

So all is well in my world again… Wonderful in fact. Despite the tiredness; I had a fantastic day in the big smoke with my children! I spent waaaay too much money on spoiling them rotten; but it was a rare treat for them, and the animated excitement etched all over their little faces was worth every penny!  I now have memories to cherish forever (so do the boys I think). As they say,

    Breakfast out – £10
    Trocadero Centre – £20
    Rainforest Cafe – £60
    Madame Tussauds – £75
    Train Ticket – £15
    KFC for dinner – £15
    Pocket Money for the Kids – £20
    The memories that I will take to my grave with me? £215… Meh!

Or something to that effect 😉


11 Responses to “First Officer Bf, this is ATC, Please stop flying NORDO or I will scramble fighter jets and bring you down!”

  1. I loved the way you explained it to him. I’ve had to do something similar. I don’t remember my exact wording, but I haven’t had a problem with him checking in late since. He knows that as soon as he gets in, he is to call me immediately to let me know he is no longer in airplanes, then I can stop worrying. Then he calls later when he can talk. It seems to work for us better now. I’ll have to remember your Flight Plan speech if it ever happens again.

  2. I am one of those people too. Always live up to my word – if I say I’m going to do something, I will do it come hell or highwater. I like to know where husb is and when he’s home; if I need to cook supper etc (God I sound like my mother!). It’s respectful to let your ‘other half’ know your whereabouts. It’s not an invasion of privacy and it keeps everyone happy if you just play ball!

  3. Tripacerchick – Glad you liked it, just thought I’d try speaking his language, since I was obviously talking Venutian! Feel free to use my analogy! HAHA

    Red – Absolutely. Couldn’t agree more-HE give’s me hell if I’m even half an hour later than usual returning home from the school run (if I got chatting to another mummy or something)-if I haven’t called him to let HIM know my whereabouts! Double standards.

  4. Interesting but we have even more in common :). I believe in the same – “my word is my promise” and expect the same from the rest.

    I did get the other side of it from my GF, when I forgot to call her in the morning (our thing is a wake-up call when we are apart by the one whose time zone is ahead) and believe me, it was hard to finish my presentation!

  5. Hi Airline Blogger, nice to know I’m not the only one… Well, once is forgiven with a ‘gentle reminder’, twice is a bollocking in my book!

  6. hahahahahahaahahaha….I AM SO STEALING THAT TEXT the last one you sent! Omg that was the funniest thing I have ever seen! You know, it isn’t just your man, ALL MEN, are like that. But its time they learn that HELLO, when you are in a RELATIONSHIP, or TRYING to be in one, you got to communicate. Don’t they know us women worry all the time? Especially those of us who have been caught in not so good one’s before? I mean, give us a little break, and a little sympathy while we are stuck raising kids while they are off flying around the world, and we are about to pull out our hair…

    Maybe we should have chosen the career of being a pilot! Then we could fly around like they do, leave them in the apron with the ironing, and the kids running around their ankles like little tornadoes, messing up the room you just picked up 5 minutes before…

    Then we could meet up, have coffee, and get our nails done when we are in-beween routes, and sit and talk, and not send them a text for hours and let them wait up!

    MAWAHAHAHAAHA ok…maybe not!

  7. I’m SO glad I stumbled across this site! I’m having a problem like this myself…right this very minute, in fact. If you say you’re going to call me, do me a favor and CALL ME. I don’t care if you don’t call me, so long as I’m not expecting it! *sigh* I’ll have to sit him down and use your approach!

  8. delightfuleccentric – I’m glad you like my blog! It’s good to realise that other people feel the same way, and that I’m not alone-just as it is for you!

  9. I so get what u mean…My guyfriend(a pliot too) always mentions he wants to meet me and guess what?!The last time i met him was in aug 08 and this is alr jan 09!I recently apologised to him (thru text)that i shldnt have had high expectations such as catching up with him and that i shant disturb him by bugging him on when he is gonna return anymore and then,his reply was an apology on his side for not meeting up yet and that he wants to meet me and wld when he returns(hmmm…) and that i shldnt be upset with him.Sounds similar to ur situation above…It is always me forgiving,it seems..and since he melts my heart with his apologies,there i is so frustrating,i agree!

  10. Hmmm, well in our situation, at least it’s not months later when I hear from him-our daughter wouln’t recognise him otherwise! Lol!

    I think that in your situation, if I knew what I knew now-I’ run baby run! hehe… Depends, if he’s still training, I might cut him a little slack, because the training is pretty all consuming, but otherwise I’d steer well clear, as it sounds like he is not that invested, but rather, just wants to keep his options open.

  11. Well said!Yup,his options are kept open but i guess hmmm,there is still something called decency-keeping words..At least I meet my friends up if I say so!:)

    By the way,I love ur blog!:)

    Am wondering if I can link my blog to urs cuz am unsure how i can do that..

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