One of my favourite passengers is a pilot [let's call him] Richard. He's a big, loud, blustery man who gets his political news from right-wing talk-radio and who suffers from a distinct inability to pick up on everyday social cues. In short, he's a nice enough guy, but not too bright and not too sensitive. A couple of years back, when he insisted on interfering with my instruments one time to many, I had to stop the van and quite loudly tell him he could either get our of the shot-gun seat or find his own way back to Ottawa from Dorval.
He remained banned from the front of my van for a few months and, since I allowed him back in, he's behaved a great deal better.
Anyway, he is also the sort of guy that people talk about. It's not just his chauffeur that finds him a handful; so do his co-workers.
Which is why I know that Richard is the guy who, when someone (for some reason) asked him what Quebec's F&eagrave;te Nationale, (the former Fète de la Saint-Jean-Baptiste, or Saint-Jean Baptiste Day) was all about, replied,
"Don't you know about John the Baptist?!? He's the guy who baptized Jesus and made him Catholic!"
Well, one of my real favourite regulars is another pilot, John, who is also loud and likes to take liberties in the front of the van, but who makes up for that by being both a funny and an interesting conversationalist.
And sometimes a helluva gossip. Especially about Richard.
The latest occurred the last time the two flew together. John mentioned that he had recently vacationed in Vietnam. Richard (so John assured me), didn't express any curiosity about John's trip, but only fear and horror.
"Oh," said Richard, "I could never go to Vietnam! I'm afraid they'd put me in jail for calling everyone 'Charlie'!" (But wait, there's more.) "And I'd have to get shots for scurvy and e coli!"
I don't know for a fact that this is true, folks, but I'm pretty sure no one would bother to make it up.