For the Interview of a Professional memo we had to write, I had originally encountered a small brain glitch. For some reason, I completely forgot how to complete the assignment as it was supposed to be completed, and wrote this memo as if it were a sort of magazine article. I don’t consider it as some of my best work, however everyone I ask to read it believes it’s a fun read, and it did take me a long time to write. So I am going to post it here.
Interview of a Professional Memo
February 10, 2015
To: Dr. Jo Ann Thompson, Instructor, Applied Professional Writing
From: Steven T. Butler, International Dispatch, Executive Jet Management
Subject: Interview of a Professional
Steven Butler reached down and de-pressed the “Sport” button on his cars shifter and squeezed the gas pedal, making the silver Saab 9-5 lurch forward with a burst of speed to make the changing light. Turning left into the Ft. Thomas community, the Saab’s Pirelli tires complained about the slippery road conditions, stuttering as the cars traction control compensated for the rapid turn. It was Super Bowl Sunday, and while most people did not have busy days, Steven’s day was packed full of tasks to complete. The most important task of his day was this interview with John Michael Clark.
Steven made another left, following a very narrow and winding road up a hill to his flight instructor’s new apartment. As Steven navigated his 9-5 up the hill in the rain, he looked over in the passengers seat to make sure, one more time, that he had everything he thought he might need. A pad and pen, a digital recorder, and a list of questions stared back at him. ‘That should do,’ Steven thought to himself.
As the Saab rolled into the parking lot of the apartment complex, Steven thought back to everything he already knew about John Clark. John was a year younger than Steven at 23 years old. He has been flight instructing for almost three years. He had a background in Information Technology, and his father works for Microsoft Corporation. This is part of what enables Steven and John to get along so well; having similar backgrounds means that the two can communicate easily, often finishing each other’s sentences and thoughts regardless of the topic. It also helps that John is casual, taking all the pressure off situations that other people may make overwhelming. A fact that is re-enforced to Steven once he walks into John’s apartment.
After knocking on the door, Steven hears a muffled “ ‘S open!” He opens the door and is greeted with a small, but warm apartment. The walls are light tan, as is the carpet. Dark blue rugs mark a path towards the living room and kitchen. The living room is lined by, in Steven’s estimation, a 60-inch LG HD TV, with a Bose sound system surrounding it. A Sony Blu-Ray player, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii are lined in shelves below the TV, finishing the technical equipment around the TV. On the left and right sides of the living room are two brown cloth loveseats, and directly facing the TV is a large brown sofa. John occupies the love seat on the right side of the room, and fellow aviation student Alan is sitting in the love seat to the left of the room.
John is the first to notice that Steven is the apartments new occupant. “Hey man. Take your jacket off and grab a seat. You play Halo?” Steven nods. “Only a little. I used to have the first Halo on my laptop, but I’ve never played on the Xbox.” John looks a little hurt. “Well, we’ll fix that. Take a seat and we’ll play a couple games, then knock out the interview.” Steven takes a seat, grabs a controller and starts playing. Fifteen seconds into the game, Steven has already been killed. John laughs. “That’s just Alan. He’s a liar. Says he’s no good at this game, but he’s already won three rounds. I’m hoping with you here we can maybe have a chance.” Three rounds later, Steven had managed five kills. John did manage to beat Alan once, but Alan had won two out of three. John looked at Alan sourly, but was laughing. “You liar! I need to find a game I’m good at. Steven, what are you good at in regards to games?” Steven looks over at John’s collection and notices Forza Horizon 2, a racing simulator. “I’m a driver. I can win any racing game on any platform.” John nods. “Forza then. I’ll load it up. While I’m doing that, you want to start the interview?”
Steven nodded. “Okay man. Hit me with your questions.” As John was changing the discs in the Xbox One, Steven reached over, grabbed the pad and pen he had brought with him, pulled the recorder out his shirt pocket, turned it on, took a breath, and started. “Okay. So, I’ll start with the most exciting question first. You’ve been instructing for almost three years now.” John nods. “What has been the most harrowing…” John looks at Steven with a puzzled look on his face. Of the two, Steven speaks much more like a man out of time. “Err… What’s been the most hair-raising thing that has ever happened while you were flying? Instructing or otherwise.” John sits back in the love seat and presses start on the Xbox controller, bringing up a new menu on the Forza game. “I’ve been really lucky. I’ve never had a close encounter or been scared shitless.” Steven frowns, and John notices. Steven doesn’t swear often, he doesn’t like it; simply the way he was raised. John chuckles. “Sorry.” Steven shrugs. John continues. “I have, however, seen accidents and close calls before. In fact, a week ago, I was climbing out of 67L on a training run, and was walking to the Sporty’s building when I head an engine roar and then a loud crash, with a screeching sound. Another pilot on a check ride crashed 3NT on his first run of the pattern. The accident looked pretty bad from where I was, and I was the first to get to the plane. Neither the check airman nor the pilot being evaluated was hurt, but still… It was a quick reminder that what we do can go wrong, even in things we think we can do so well. That shook me for a moment.”
Steven nodded, jotting down a few last words. “That happened just an hour before I came back from Chicago on a cross country. I heard about it and it really surprised me.” Steven picked up an Xbox controller and looked at John. “What do you want me to do?” John looked over. “Oh, go through the cars and pick one you like. Yeah. That accident was tough to figure out. It just solidified to me that we need to be focused on comfort zones. If a landing feels just a little out of your reach, go around. Save the plane, save yourself, you know?” Steven nodded. He looked at the screen. John was selecting a car of his own, a 2014 Alfa Romeo 4C. With a turbo charged 4 cylinder and extremely good suspension, Steven knew John picked a fast car. Steven also knew that the 4C has troubles with braking and steering, and slid that information back for later during the race.
“Okay. Next question.” Steven started, looking to see the car Alan was picking. “ As students, there is so much information for us to take in. Procedures, aerodynamics, rules, systems; it can be overwhelming at times. And it seems to be from where I’m standing, that you get your instructor certificate very shortly after just managing to learn enough of this to pass the FAA exams. When you became an instructor, and you started teaching, did you feel maybe like it was a case of the blind leading the blind?” Alan laughed at that. “That’s good. Now I’m curious to know, John. What is that like?” Steven chuckled. Alan had been completely un-interested in what was happening outside of Forza, now he wanted to be a part of it. ‘Maybe it’ll add some depth,’ Steven thought. He looked at the TV once more to see that Alan had chosen his car: the 2013 Ferrari LaFerrari. This made Steven chuckle again. ‘He picked it because all the stat bars are maxed out, and he thinks that will make him win.’ Steven started scrolling through, looking for his car when John began to answer his question. “Absolutely! You definitely feel inadequate, and you second-guess every answer you give to a question. Then you figure out that you need to study the material you’re going to teach the night before you teach it. Then after about a year, it’s all there. You know it, most of it, just because you’re always doing it. It all works out in the end. Are you going to pick a car or what!?” John finished, laughing. Steven laughs and starts looking more intently at the cars for a selection. Knowing from reviews and videos the limits of John’s and Alan’s cars, he begins looking for a car that suits his own driving style: a calculating madman. Alan looks over at John. “Did you ever tell someone the wrong thing?” Steven looks over at Alan with an approving nod. ‘I didn’t think of that.’ He keeps scrolling through that selection of cars, hoping to find a Saab. There aren’t any. He settles on his next favorite non-super car brand in the game: BMW. John laughs at Alan’s question. “Once, yes. I told a student wrong about a regulation. I can’t remember the regulation anymore, but I remember getting a lecture from Dave about it. Never made that mistake again. That was when I started studying the night before lessons.”
Steven nodded, and then he smiled knowing that he had found his car: a black 1988 BMW M5. After making sure he had all the specs he wanted it to have, he looked at John. “Okay. Let’s race.” John looked back at him and laughed. “Really? An M5? You’re going to beat us with an M5?” Steven nodded. “I said I can beat anyone at any racing game. Another question?” John nodded. “Okay. What has been the most rewarding aspect of being a flight instructor?” John falls back into the love-seat. “Easy. When a student you’ve worked with for a long time earns a rating. You feel so ffff….. freakin’ proud at that moment. It’s amazing. Everyone is just stoked.” John grips the controller as the game loads up. An old BMW, a new Alfa Romeo and a new Ferrari sit ready to race in the simulated, yet picturesque environment that is supposed to be southern France. A countdown begins and engines start revving. At the end of the countdown, the cars take off and to John and Alan’s surprise; the BMW takes an immediate lead. Alan gets upset. “How did you do that?” Steven smirks and responds in his best Jeremy Clarkson impersonation, “Maybe if you’d control your raging thoroughbred of a super car, you’d have pulled away from the line quicker. But noooo, you just want to sit there and spin your wheels.” John is laughing. “I’ve never heard anyone do a Clarkson voice that good before.” Steven laughs and keeps at it. “Lots and lots of time wasted on YouTube. Another question?” John takes in a sharp breath, sliding his 4C through the first corner and scraping the back left corner against a stonewall barrier. “Sure.”
Steven glances over at his pad. “Okay here’s one. Sometimes students can’t grasp concepts; a lot of them are very difficult. Or some students can’t physically fly a plane. Maybe they’re too short and can’t reach everything, or I heard that the Skycatcher can be a bear to wrestle with. Have you ever had to look at a student and suggest to them that maybe they’re not meant to be a pilot, for whatever reason?” Steven looks back at the TV and checks the race map. John is close behind Steven, and Alan even farther back, but closing rapidly. The BMW is the least powerful car of the group, so on long stretches Steven is in trouble. He knows he needs to make the best advantage of the turns in the little village in order to keep up the lead. John starts talking. “I had one girl one time who physically couldn’t operate the flap lever on the Skycatcher. It’s was too awkward and hard for her arms to pull up. We just moved her over to, of all things, the 182, and she was fine. I had another student who was 16, and he had a hard time reaching the rudder pedals. Fortunately he hit like a growth spurt, and then it wasn’t an issue. For students who have a hard time graaaaasping….” John had missed a turn cue and slammed his Alfa into the front a building, allowing Alan to pass him in his Ferrari. “Crap. How’s you make that turn, Steven?” Steven smirked. “Powerslide.” John just shook his head, righted his car, and got back in the race. “Anyway, you just need to keep trying. Each person is different, so you just keep trying different ways of teaching until it clicks. And if you can’t make it click, then you try to set them up with a different instructor, and then surprise! They suddenly understand. It’s all about communication. YES!!” John had caught back up to Alan, who had also caught back up to Steven on a long straight stretch, and both had passed Steven. “NOOOOO!” Alan yelled out as John and Alan wrecked into each other having underestimated a gentle left turn. Steven passed them both again, a smug smile on his face. “One more question, John, then you can focus completely on wrecking both the south of France and your little Alfa.”
John glared at Steven. “I hate you.” He laughed. “Go ahead.” Steven looked down at his pad to pick a question. After making his choice he heard a loud crash and felt the controller shudder. He looked up at the TV and noticed he had driven head on into a parked tractor. “Oh pillock!” John and Alan start laughing ad they once again pass Steven. Steven laughs. “Okay, last question. What sort of writing is involved in being a flight instructor?” John sighs for a moment. “Mainly shorthand, unless you’re emailing another instructor. You always keep it professional, but it’s pretty much all-short stuff. You’ve already seen it in your logbook; it goes something like… ‘ILS runway two one left. Good approach, bad landing.’ That’s about it. SHIIII… Crap, sorry!” John had slammed his Alfa once again into a racing barrier. Alan had tried to go around but ended up losing control of his Ferrari. Steven once again passed the two of them, power sliding his BMW around the second to last corner and taking off leaving John and Alan to spin around in circles. “NOOO! That’s not fair. How are you always there to pass us when we wreck?” Steven was laughing. “I try not to wreck.” Steven took the last corner of the course, and charged for the line, crossing it and winning the race. “Now John, are you going to be terribly upset if I tell you this was the first time I raced in this game?” John glared over at Steven. “Again. Different cars. This time, I pick them. Did you get all the questions asked you needed?”
Steven looked back down at this pad. There were several more questions, but he was having too much fun playing with his friends. It wasn’t something he got to do very often. ‘To heck with it. I’ve got my five.’ “Yep. That should do it. Now, if you’re going to give me a power beast, give me the Koenigsegg Agera. It’s the only Swedish car in the game, so it’s the closest I can get to my Saab.”