A few weeks ago, Sam over at Blogging at FL250 made an amusing entry entitled “The Starving First Officer’s Guide to Dining.” In his post, he made some great suggestions as to how a young whippersnapper airline pilot who’s down on his luck can get by on the variety of deeply-discounted or free vittles available to him. What he didn’t discuss, however, is one of the most important things the hungry airline pilot has to master: How To Keep All That Free Food Off The White Uniform Shirt. This is important, of course, because dry cleaning a’int cheap.
Here are a couple of the methods that are most widely used.
Eat Over The Crew Lounge Trash Can.
This technique, though uncomfortable, is quite effective. Not only does the food completely clear your spiffy white shirt (beer-gut and all), but chances are it will also miss your pants. Fear no double-chili-cheese-dog as you stoop over that 12-inch-diameter injection-molded Office Depot special. But be advised: heavy meals eaten from this position will put extra strain on your lower back!
Wear The Dinner Jacket – Always.
Most airlines require new-hire pilots to purchase a new uniform coat. No, they’re not good for impressing the women. They ARE good for keeping food off of all but your company-issued tie, however. Mustard stains don’t show up as well on dark blue or black wool as they do on freshly-bleached white polyester.
Attach Container To Chin. Chow Down.
No, I’m not suggesting the use of Super-Glue or staple guns, but a sturdily-built “to-go container,” held just under the chin can keep that pizza’s grease contained quite neatly. This method does not work with food that takes two hands to eat, such as the foot-long meatball sub from Potbellie’s at MDW.
Shields Up, Captain!
While on the flight deck, there are any number of devices that are well suited to providing a barrier between your Van Heusen and the large cup of Albuquerque Turkey Chili you’re devouring for lunch. Jumpseat Briefing Cards, provided they are of a stiff-enough stock, can be wedged between your beer-gut and your lap belt to shield that bright white polyester from any errant droplets.
Crackers Are Free, Usually. These two-inch squares of shrink-wrapped and salted unleavened bread are invaluable when eating your Chow-dah from MHT. A mere six packages (twelve crackers), and these little godsends can transform that runny concoction into an oatmeal-like bit of New England Heaven. The better you can get it to stick to your spoon, the less chance it will end up on your pocket flaps.
Using some (or all) of these techniques will surely keep your aviator shirts free of stains for at least a whole month!