Why would you bet on anything you have no clue or control on whatsoever. Like this boy, who on a cold winter morning in Wales haplessly placed a bet with his classmate on the varied force of nature. By the time it was afternoon his sister came looking for him in school to find him sitting in the breezy chill of the day on a lonesome park bench. She asked him, “What on earth is wrong with you? Why are you sitting here in the cold?” to which her brother meekly responded “I had a bet with Roy this morning. The bet was that if I urinated on my seat, the urine would freeze and I wouldn’t be able to get up. And well, he won the bet.” “Sis, would you happen to have a match?”
I wouldn’t do something as stupid and frivolously benign (I think). I’m sure none of us would too (I think). But lets take the case of this air cargo shipment fiasco that came to be 4 years back. The cargo to be shipped was live food stock (Chickens & Goats – both alive). One of my acquaintances (not so direct), was an aircraft maintenance engineer (AME) with that shipment firm and was filling his duties to fix a section of the ATR engine which went bust on the last landing. He placed a bet with the crew that he would fix it in a couple of hours. Now, the crew who he was quite pally with, wanted him to come onboard. He wasn’t really keen of course. And so the bet was raised that if he didn’t fix the engines in 2 hours, he would fly with them. As luck would have it, It took him just over a whole day to figure the issue out. (Unlike some Nepali engineers who preferred sacrificing goats to make their airplane fly – Link). When he finally did manage to fix it (traditional AME style) he had no option but to hitch a ride to the destination drop point i.e. Sydney, Australia.
There began their epic journey, the pilot, co-pilot, 4 to 5 crew members and our fellow friend who fixed the airplane engine(s) and lost the bet. The rest of the aircraft was filled with cargo i.e live fowl and goats. About midway through the journey high over the Indian Ocean, one of the engines scuffled in and decided to move into low revs. Within minutes the other one bellowed and folded in too. Panic struck the crew as they scampered to figure their jump & p’shoot options. Our fellow AME friend in the meanwhile inspected the engine (no airborne acrobatics, just data gathering). He realized that the load was a bit too much and that the engines would be in working order if the load came down to a bare supplement.
They unanimously turned around to look at the hapless herd of fowl & goat with vicious beady eyes. They almost carried that “I’m gonna throw you off this plane” look. Little did these poor animals know what was in store for them. They were happily looking forward to being on someones dinner table, but now instead stood to live a massive free fall into the almost infinite Indian Ocean. In desperate last minute crib sessions, some Fowl shouted at their elders for not giving them flight lessons. As far as the goats were concerned, they had no hope really, except that they heavily out-numbered and out-weighed the crew members.
Now, my friend (AME) wasn’t really a heavy builder, well actually far from it. He was once blown to the other side of the hall when a test steamer engine blew out a shaft of excess steam, while his fellow team combed their messy hair and tried to salvage him from the broken plates stored at the back of the hall (he was heavy enough to break some China). Coming back to this airborne fowl play, the goats as I said were huge ass meat balls by themselves, they easily outweighed our fellow scrawny AME twice over (also explains the load). But he and the crew somehow did manage to struggle past pulling them down to the open hangar (the crew strapped in belts of course) and mercilessly pushed each meat ball into the ocean.
Now we’ve seen frogs (or tadpoles) showering in from the skies above and sometimes schools of fish too (Link), but imagine the plight of some innocent wandering ships and their crew when they see thunderous showers of goats and chickens falling down on them (and some of them brave souls alive … if free fall didn’t shock them to death). We don’t really know if this happened, but I can’t help but imagine the state of shock that these seamen would have been in when their ship in pretense had been belted by these huge ass goats and fowl. Imagine this scene where the seamen are having dinner in their open air diner, cribbing as usual to the chef that their chicken and meat are stale and stink, when that huge ton of a goat comes crashing into their plates, takes down the table and bores a hole three layers down to their ship’s cold storage. “Take that for fresh meat!!”.
News has it (since our friend AME lived to tell this tale), that they did manage to bellow out each and every goat and fowl from the aircraft, which got the ATR to rev up and land on the nearest coastal airbase, where he was almost fired by his overseas bosses. He told me that he quit that job a few weeks later and has been since working as a back-office systems engineer in a seafood shipment firm (more on flying lobsters, crabs and fish in the next post).
When he narrated this story to me, I couldn’t help but recount the story of the Nepali Goat sacrifice (Link), spelling out the fact that he should actually have sacrificed a couple of goats before the plane took off. This way, he could have fixed the aircraft, won the bet, wouldn’t have had to travel to Aussi and of course could have skipped the firing line, not to mention the majority of fowl and goats would have managed to fall into dinner tables in the manner they had hoped for before the flight took off.
He laughed it out and a couple of “why did the chicken cross the road” jokes later told me that one of the crew members with him on that fateful flight actually moved out from that shipping company. He now works with Nepal Airlines.