Is it wrong to be prejudiced against people who don’t even try to be literate?
I mentioned in my blog that I sometimes allow rated helicopter pilots to fly my aircraft on ferry flights for my flight cost. This is a substantial savings over what they’d pay to rent an aircraft to build time. In addition, they get the chance to fly a long cross-country flight (usually around 10 hours over two days) with an experienced pilot.
I get e-mails from people who are interested in this opportunity. The most recent arrived yesterday:
Yes sir i was intrested in biulding some time i am a commercial rated pilot with 250hr most in a robinson 22 i really need this chance to fly thank you for your time.
Although he managed to capitalize the first letter of the first word and put a period after the last word everything in between is a mess. Spelling? Punctuation? Is this what our schools are churning out?
Keep in mind that he sent me this message using the contact form on my Web site. A Web site that displays my name in the browser’s address bar when viewed. A web site that includes my name, bio, and other information in all kinds of places. Yet he addressed me as “sir.” I figured he’d somehow missed that I was a woman.
Still, the whole message put me in a foul mood. My response got to the point:
Do you have an R44 endorsement?
Without an R44 endorsement and 10 hours of flight time in R44s, you cannot fly an R44 with a passenger (even me) aboard. No exceptions.
Note that I included my name, just in case he really did miss it the first time.
no sir im afraid i do not have it i would be willing to get one if you could let me know what it would take to get one thanks for your time
He didn’t even bother trying to get capitalization or punctuation right this time. Perhaps his shift key broke.
And I wasn’t about to let him get away with “sir” again. I replied:
First of all, I’m not a “sir.” Maria is a woman’s name. You sent an e-mail message to the woman who owns and operates the company and flies the aircraft.
If you don’t have an R44 endorsement, you cannot fly the aircraft. I’m sorry. If you want to get an R44 endorsement, talk to a flight school that operates R44s.
I’m bugged by this exchange. I’m bugged that someone bordering on illiterate — or too damn lazy to even try to get his spelling, punctuation, or grammar right — has the nerve to ask if he can fly my aircraft. There’s no way in hell I’d let anyone who communicates like that at the controls.
Being a commercial pilot is more than just taking flight lessons and getting the appropriate ratings. If this guy can’t write, how do I know he can read? That he understands the training materials he was given? That he took the time to read the pilot operating manual?
You might argue that he must have because he passed a written and oral test — two of each, in fact — to get as far as he did. But how do I know the quality of his CFI or pilot examiner? Or in the case of sheer laziness, if he’s too lazy to create two short e-mail messages written in proper grammar, why should I do him any favors at all? Frankly, I think even responding to him was going beyond the call of duty here.
Am I wrong to believe that written communication should be created with some semblance to proper grammar? Am I wrong to thumb my nose at people who fail to meet even the lowest tests of their ability to communicate in writing by composing two or three complete sentences?
Is this what our schools are churning out?