My conversation with a pilot in the Atlanta airport:
Me: Is it difficult to remember the strings of letters and numbers that the air controllers throw at you?
Pilot: Ah, jeeze, not really. I mean, I’ve been flying since I was 15. That’s 22 years now. I guess you just learn after years of practice.
Me: Wow! Since you were 15? So you’re living the dream? That’s impressive. Not many people actualize their dreams.
Pilot: In the beginning, things were really rough. The pay is nothing. I had friends who were on food stamps.
Me: A pilot on food stamps?! That seems wrong.
Pilot: Times are tough. There’s just no money. And when you’re at the bottom of the totem pole you don’t make enough to live.