fly me to the moon

write about the weirdest job you ever had.

On what scale would one measure weirdness? Is it based on the purely unusual?

In a case such as this, weirdness exists at the crux between oddity and genuine interest. I believe this crossroads is a living representation of the things we don’t know because they are obscure and the things that are inherently fun to learn. The summer before last, I served as a crew member for a hot air balloon pilot.

Weird enough I think?

Most mornings, when the dew was settling, I would greet the Tim Horton’s drive thru with open arms. This is a substantial indication of how early I’d rise because I cannot stand Tim Horton’s coffee. These early starts demanded it.

I will pause here to note another peculiarity. Lifting your head before the majority of the rest of the world is a weird thing. As any member of the exclusive club of 5 am risers would attest, there is a calmness and yet complete vastness about that time of day. You struggle to keep awake, and yet the brisk air keeps you conscious.

The main responsibility I carried in my role was to help set up the balloon. Launch it. Track it. And then ensure a successful landing. These simple tasks forced me into a wide array of situations. I learned how to tie some cool knots. I also learned how to explain myself and understand a landscape based on the bird’s eye view. Even stranger still, I learned how to interrupt the early morning routines of country folk to let them know we would probably need to crash a balloon in their field.

There was definitely launch weirdness. Feet soaked in dew, I’d scramble around assuring the crown line remained taught. All 145 pounds of me. I’d then load up a trailer I was learning to drive (which I did) and fall into procession with fellow crew members driving as per the wind’s instructions.

The in between was likely the least weird part. I regained a love for talk radio and podcasts as I drove into and out of rural townships surrounding Calgary eyeing the floating vessels above.

It often got weird again as landing approached. You were likely to be guessing who’s field you would be infringing upon. Land owners were not always helpful, if even available. This proved for some tricky and pain staking load outs. Heavy basket, heavy propane tanks, heavy balloon. Not super strong guys. Weird.

In the grand scheme of things, weirdness in a job has more to do with learning something new than being odd. Intersections exist, but surrounding yourself with people who are way smarter than you with regards to a particular task or line of work is inspiring.

I really learned a lot about myself in that summer, taking each and every opportunity with a great deal of poise and pride. I also have some damn good stories to tell now.

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