“It has been said,” he started, “that there are four distinct ages of a capsuleer. (1, 2) I don’t know, there is always finer iterations to classifications but what I want to discuss here, with you . . ” He looked out at the class of prospective pilots and then glared off stage at the dean. “is the reasons that the generations die out.”
“I thought we were immortal?” An earnest young thing in the front row asked.
“We are, until we choose the time and the place of our exit. Every pilot that is no longer flying . . . chose to leave. Let us start with what you all will be, soon. Newbs. Now don’t git your panties in a bunch, for every vet who calls you that with disdain was also in your shoes. Barely able ta fly a frig and wondering what the hell was going on. We all seen the image of the learnin curve.” (3) That right there is the first reason for pilots giving up and leaving. I ain’t got the stats on me but a lot of you have NO idea of what you are getting into and will be disappointed with the truth. Others of you will miss having a body for too much of your daily life and drift into some other occupation. Yet more of you will find that space is merciless and the occupants even more so. You will be ganked, hunted, tricked, taken for all you have or all you have will blow up around you. Some of you will bounce back from this, others will leave in disgust.”
Worried looks were in the eyes of some of the students, now. “Um, how quick does this ending come on to pilots?”
“Less than three weeks, for most, some last a full month and a half. After that, well we begin to phase slowly into the next category. These be the pilots who have found a calling and want to learn excel in it. It probably has the best retention rate of any of the stages but it also has an obvious exit. Pilots get into a rut, they learn one thing, become good at it and then starts the ennui, boredom. Be it miner, missions, lowsec pirate, even CEO. If they get too comfortable they are afraid to change but they also don’t like where they are. So they leave.” Mike sighed. “I felt that, one time or three. It is the call of deep water when you are on a boat, the temptation to lean out when near a cliff. If you pull back you feel the lesser for it. If you stay safe forever you risk fading away.” His voice had dropped to almost a whisper. “Been there.”
The question was soft, tentative. “So what do you do?”
“Jump.” Mikes eyes lit up and his back straightened. “Dive in and take risks. Do something you haven’t, talk to people and learn new things. There are so damn many opportunities in this place, so many things to try, to do. If you cannot find something to do then start something yourself. Some pilots have gotten damn rich starting a new idea and running with it.”
He paused and took a sip from his glass on the podium, wheezed and went on. “Smoooth. Eventually you reach what some consider to be the pinnacle of the progression. The Bitter Vet. You think you have seen everything and done it all. Probably you haven’t but there is no use in anybody trying to convince you of that, you know it all. Now the cause of exit from here is a new one . . .broken promises. People promise you the moon and give you a rock. Promise you new communications and give you some hand-me-down. You get disillusioned and you feel bits of what being a pilot was all about slowly being eroded away. In disgust you leave. I have seen far, far, far too many pilots leave or pulll way way back from flying. Vuk Lau, Teadaze, Mynxee all served on CSM5 and . . .well.” Mike chuckled. “Pilot I know said the other day he hopes that sort of burnout hits the current CSM. I kinda doubt that will happen to Mittens, though.”
“Why?” The harsh voice came from the back, a pilot in black and yellow stripes.
“Mainly ’cause Mittens ain’t a bitter vet. He is beyond that. Dunno what ta call the ones who get that far but they are legends in their own minds. Half of them don’t even bother piloting anymore. Thye move and shake on an entirely other level than we poor immortals. He is not playin the same game we is, and that is what sometimes worries me. I would rather have a bitter vet running things than someone so full of himself that POS’s set up orbits around him. I just hope he has a good memory and he can remember what it was like to fly. Heard a rumor that he was even gonna make a token showing in a ship against the Sansha . . . but I figure that for either a trap or a publicity stunt. The man already said he doesn’t fly much anymore.”
Mike laughed. “Before you ask, I don’t know why the top ‘godlings and legends’ leave. Greener pastures? A lot of them are set for life so it is not expences it is just time. Even for immortals time is an enemy you can only hold at bay.”
“So where do you fall in this, Captain Azariah?”
Mike grinned. “I forgot to tell you. Pilots always think they are the exceptions to rules and classifications. Most times I tink I am on the border of newb and a semi competent pilot. I ain’t about ta get ganked out of everyting I own. But I don’t claim ta be good at anyting much. I can tell ya what I ain’t. I ain’t bitter. I be as sweet as kin be.” He roared with laughter and shot back the rest of his drink and left the podium.
Ecliptic and Cass both wrote on this, but I am always harping about exits as well as entrances, so this sprang to mind. Not on where you are but more on why you might go away.
TetraEtc, I hope this is a better length for your ride.
hmmm, another post out of the hopper I call my brain . . . .at least two still rattling around up there.