I have many skills. This is what my counselor keeps telling me. I’m a fairly good father, a fairly good husband, I make a good living, I’m kind to people, I can play a mean piano (well – slightly angry) and I could go on and on. However, twisted amongst the refuse of my skill set are a few ‘lesser’ skills that have wedged their way into my brain and will not go away. These are skills that I guess could be useful one day, but only one, and otherwise are just taking up valuable ‘skill’ space that could be used for more productive skills like figuring out how to set the clock in the car when the time changes.
The first skill that I have that is completely useless to me now is being able to fly a plane. Back in my heyday as a young buck, I decided that I wanted to be a pilot. After going through rigorous (?) training, I obtained my pilot’s license and then yes, decided I actually didn’t like flying at all. Between hours of sheer boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror, I deduced that my psyche wasn’t quite ready for that stress/monotony on a daily basis. So here’s what I can do with that skill currently:
- When one of those annoying ‘Get To Know You’ games comes up I have a slam dunk of a statement to make. Never ceases to impress the ladies – which is what I’m truly all about.
- I can now annoy my entire family whenever a shot of an airplane is on TV and tell them why ‘that’s not possible’ or ‘that’s the wrong plane’. And trust me – that happens A LOT. You can’t even imagine how many times there is a shot of an Airbus A300 taking off with our characters aboard, followed by them landing in a Boeing B737!!!! Can you believe THAT?
- If I’m on an airplane where suddenly the pilot and co-pilot become sick with food poisoning and the stewardess comes on the loudspeaker and says “Does anyone here have flying experience?” I will be able to be the first one to stand up and land the damn plane. I think about that any time I’m on a plane – and am ready and willing to do my duty.
So that’s a skill, while useless now, that I can at least hang my hat on the rest of my life. People obviously think that flying a plane is ridiculously difficult. However, let me pull back the curtain on that myth. I can fly a plane. I can’t drive a standard transmission car. It’s too complicated. So cogitate on that.
This next skill is, to the best of my knowledge, completely useless in the world today. That skill?
I am fluent in Morse code.
I’ll let that sink in a bit. When I was younger I found a record (yes – a record) that taught you Morse code. I sat there day after day listening to dits and dahs and dutifully committing these electronic beeps to memory. For what purpose? It wasn’t to impress the ladies – that’s for sure. I never had the opportunity to use the line “Hey – wanna go out and see me translate the restaurant menu into meaningless dots and dashes?” on a real girl, but the stuffed animals that I continually practiced on never seemed to care at all. As far as I can tell, the only current benefits of this skill are:
- When a song comes on the radio that for some reason contains Morse code in it, I am able to quickly translate what it says and let everyone know (once they stop yawning) what it actually means. Think I’m kidding? Check out the following songs:
- Rush “YYZ”. At the start of the song, the Morse code that sounds is actually “YYZ” – the airport code for Toronto (which is where the band is from). Incidentally, as I explain this it brings up yet another useless skill – knowing the airport code for just about every airport in the world. I’ll demonstrate at your leisure.
- The Beatles “Strawberry Fields Forever”. Right after the line “Let me take you down ‘cause I’m going to….” you can hear the Morse code for J and L – of course the initials for John Lennon.
- Evanescence “My Immortal”. At the end of this song you can hear what are undoubtedly Morse code beeps. However, because you know me and I know Morse code, I can tell you in fact that they are NOT Morse code – they are in fact (according to the band) random beeps created by a synthesizer that they thought sounded cool.
- The only other benefit of this skill at Morse code is if I’m in a ship out in the middle of the ocean, and it capsizes and I manage to climb all the way to the bottom of the hull (which would now be the top of the ship). I could repeatedly tap out S.O.S. (dit dit dit dah dah dah dit dit dit) on the metal hull so that rescuers will quickly locate me and the rest of my party.
I’m sure I have many other equally useless skills rambling around my cranium, but right now it’s so fogged up in there with mathematical equations and cures for the common cold that I can’t see the proverbial forest for the proverbial trees.
When one rears its proverbial head, you will be the first to know.