Up until recently, I would have said that Dallas is one of my least favorite places.  I guess I would still say that, but I've just spent the better part of a week here and I think maybe Dallas and I have made peace with one another.  I have a somewhat pavlovian response to this city.  It's not, ring a bell and I'll salivate, but mention the word Dallas and I immediately start to feel stressed.  Let me explain why.

I come to Dallas once a year for training, which normally involves a day of class and then a day in the simulator.  The simulator training rotates every year, one year it is training, and the next year it is a proficiency check, or PC.  The PC is like a test, and we are expected to perform things like engine failures on takeoff, engine fires, systems failures and windshear recovery.  Obviously these are things that we don't normally do in the airplane, so it is very nerve wracking to be tested on something you only get to practice once a year.

I suffer from an affliction commonly known amongst pilots as checkride-itis.  It seems that no matter how much I study or prepare for a checkride, I am always nervous about it anyway.  Flying an airplane is a very fluid process, and conditions change all the time.  No matter how prepared you are, something can always throw a monkey wrench into your plans.  I think it is this unpredictability that causes me so much angst.

My other problem with the simulator is that I expect myself to perform flawlessly, and anything less than perfect I regard as a failure.  My instructor reminded us that PC stands for Proficiency Check, not Perfection Check.  I wish I had taken that into consideration over the last few weeks, which I spent wishing Oct. 1st would hurry up and get here so my test would be over.  The checkride went just fine, as it always does, and now I'm sorry I spent so much time and energy worrying about it.

It would be unfair of me to say I don't like Dallas just because it is the place that I happen to take my checkrides.  Dallas and I just don't see eye to eye on quite a few issues.  Texas is the land of oil, rodeos, big pickup trucks and steak houses.  I'm concerned about the environment, I am disgusted by the treatment of animals at rodeos, and a vegetarian.  Well, I guess I can't say I'm a vegetarian anymore because I am eating fish.  Wow, that's the first time I've not been able to call myself a vegetarian.  That makes me sad, but at the same time it's the first time I have been to Dallas and actually been able to eat.

Vegetarians are an alien species in most of Texas.  The hotel where we used to stay had a steak house and a bar, and nothing else around it.  The only thing I could eat on the menu was cheese quesadillas, which by the fourth day became very unappetizing.  We have since switched hotels, and this one is next to a great mexican restaurant.  Not only that, but the hotel actually has a recycling bag in every room.

I am eating fish and Dallas is recycling, maybe we could learn to get along.  Unfortunately, that still doesn't solve my checkride-itis.  Until I can find a way to stop getting a knot in my stomach when someone mentions the big D, I think I'll stick to coming here only when I have to.  But maybe I won't spend so much time dreading it next year.

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