As pilots we're taught the mechanics of flight to ensure we get up in the air and back down again safely and enjoyably. Once we have that figured out, the real teaching begins. That's when we learn to improvise and adapt. Because, much like in ordinary life, not much goes according to plan. We're asked to perform with the expecation that the s**t "will" hit the fan. The instructor's mission is to determine...How you will react? How you will adapt? What happens when one wheel doesn't come down, when the fuel gauge was stuck on the wrong indication (and you're sucking air), when you lose all electrical power (at night) or worse, a T-38 shears off the nose of your airplane at 5,000 feet (true story, I know a guy that happened to)? Great pilots are the ones who get to tell us these stories. The rest...I'll give you one guess. In aviation, this is where the men are separated from the boys (or, women from girls, whatever, you get my point).

Now, while it's not a matter of life and death in the world customer care (except for that one guy that threw a stapler at me when I was a desk clerk), the rules are the same. Anyone can be nice and offer smiles, hugs and kisses when the waters are calm. But, what about when it's choppy or there's a tidal wave? When there's no time to analyze, no time to think...just to do.

Better have the people with the "right stuff" on the line...because things almost never go to plan.