Wednesday Weirdness

Ash and Pete Irish Coffee

I need a drink after all this.

So, today’s been weird. Since the weather has been so bad, we’re pretty much grounded here, and as a result, business is slooooooooooooooowwwwwwww. I’ve caught up on a lot of paperwork, though, so there’s your silver lining. But there are a couple of events that really highlight today for me.

First, we had a new strip up today (yay!), which is here if you haven’t read it yet. And when we publish a new strip, it goes up here on the website, on our Facebook page, on Twitter, tumblr, and Instagram, as well as Tapastic (and soon Line WebToon, also). So, we have a wide variety of followers. I wanted to give y’all the option to read and enjoy this comic on the platform you most enjoy.

Well, I got my first odd comment today. It wasn’t anything malicious or vitriolic. Quite the opposite. It will go down in my memory as the oddest comment I have ever received. It was posted to today’s comic on Instagram by some random IG user who has never liked any of my comic posts, nor is he follower of the account.

Now, I really don’t want to spend much time on this at all, since it’s really not worth any of my time anyway, but he told me that I had the driest sense of humor he’d ever seen and that on 95% of my comics he’s read (which I’m sure can’t be all that many) the punchline fails to land. He closes by rating it an 8.5 out of 10 and telling me to keep up the great work.

The fuck? Seriously, what the hell does that mean? Am I wrong to be confused by this? Look, I can tell when I’m dealing with a bot or a troll or someone who genuinely has constructive criticism, but I honestly don’t know what the hell this is. How can my work be “great” in his eyes if the writing never comes together for him? I don’t understand the point of this. Subjectivity is, generally speaking, not constructive; it’s just your opinion. Normally, when you give constructive criticism, you do it by sandwiching areas which need improvement with areas that are already strong. This is just nonsense. Obviously, the jokes don’t work to him, which means the writing fails, which means that, at best, I should receive a 6 out of 10, right? (I’m being generous.) That’s not “great”.

I’m just baffled by it. But that means I’ve lingered far too long on this point, and I need to make one very important one: I make comics for you, but they’re the comics that I want to make. Nothing subjective will change my approach. You see a technical issue? That’s good. I can work with that. You think my jokes aren’t funny? Well, there’s a very simple fix for that: Stop reading this comic, because it’s not going to work for you. Different strokes for different folks.

Second, I had to deal with two students from the old flight school today. One, who I have seen many times over the years, came in with his buddy. Aside from not knowing what area they’re in (go figure), they had no idea how sales returns worked. His friend bought three charts, two IFR and one VFR. Actually, he asked for the “low VFR” chart, which isn’t a thing. Anyone who’s taken flight instruction knows that’s not a thing. So, his friend buys items then leaves.

Ten minutes later, the guy returns with one of his friend’s charts because he got the chart for the wrong area, which is very difficult to do since the effective area is clearly marked on the front cover. He has no receipt. Fine. I know who he is. His friend was the only sale we’ve had today. No biggie. He needs the one for this area, which are out of stock and on order.

“I need the one for this area.”

“I’m sorry but we don’t have it. It’s on backorder.”

“You don’t have it?”

“No. It’s on backorder.”

“So, none?”

Sometimes I thank the maker for little reminders of why the hell I got away from that place. This wasn’t one of those times. Anyway, he now wants a refund. Fine. I’ll make this work.

“Do you have the card?” I ask.


“Yes. The card he used to buy it?”


“Then I can’t do the refund.”

“You can’t?”

I don’t have words to explain this. I figured this was pretty much universally known that in order to get a refund, if it’s not in cash or check, you have to have the card you used to buy that item. I guess I was wrong about that. My bad for assuming intelligence again. Yes, it is possible to reverse that transaction, but that creates more problems than it fixes, chiefly the increase in paperwork and the fact that I’d still have to re-run the card, which I don’t have, for the amount of the other items he still kept. So, yeah, unnecessary pain in the ass and equally as impossible as the previous solution.

So, he leaves and returns with his friend so his friend can get a refund. Key in the refund amount, pop the card in, boom, done. Easy. These students are excellent at one thing: Making easy things difficult. It’s not a language barrier. It’s not a cultural barrier. It’s an ignorance barrier. When you’re in this country for any length of time, and you don’t acclimate to certain aspects of daily life (in this case, buying things), that’s a failing on your part. Your willful ignorance leaves you unable to be a functional adult. That’s not only idiotic, but it’s also incredibly dangerous.

That and I refuse to hand-hold an adult, who wants to be an airline pilot, through the process of buying something from a store. Am I wrong?

-The Retail Explorer

Valentine’s Day 2018


I just want to say I love you all. And this holiday is absurd. There, I said it.

No new special holiday comic this year, comrades. The new job demands have been greater than I thought. Plus, this comic is pretty solid and worthy of a reposting. I came up with the idea back when the comic was a flight of fancy and reworked it to what you see here. I need to do a follow-up to this. Maybe next year.

So, even though this is a fake holiday made up by the card manufacturers to sell crap no one needs, I just want to take a moment to say I love you all. Thank you so much for reading and sticking around through the first year and a half. It really does mean the world to me.

Hugs and Kisses,

-The Retail Explorer

Why I’ll Never Go Back

When I left the shop three weeks ago, the owner said good-bye with a handshake and a door left ajar: “If you ever want to come back to the maintenance hangar or the helicopter school, just let me know.” From the outside looking in, it’s a lovely offer, one many would jump at. I am not, however, on the outside looking in and I would never jump at that offer unless it was the last offer that existed on this planet.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m grateful to have standing offers of employment with two of my previous bosses. Very grateful. But I would never work for this man on a bet. There are so many potentional pitfalls, it makes even entertaining the prospect of future employment with him laughable. Here’s why.

Firstly, while there is the probability I would be working with other people on a daily basis, I would still be forced to deal with the owner on a daily basis, because he cannot keep well enough alone with his businesses and is too cheap to hire extra people to run them properly. The number of problems caused from him trying to dip all his fingers into his many pies at random moments was massive.

In order to help modernize and streamline the operations of his maintenance division, I implemented two different management software programs and fully populated their databases only to see one phased out (because it was too restrictive and not at all user friendly, though I was finally able to fly through it fairly effortlessly) in favor of another program (which was more accessible but even more restrictive and never got updated or repopulated once I returned to the shop full time). But because he decided to run around between all his businesses, that maintenance program got buried under a backlog of invoices and information, which should have been input months ago by an on-site administrator, because he couldn’t be bothered to hire someone to do it and preferred to save the money and have me do it once the backlog piled into a mountain, bringing me to my second point: The backlog.

I don’t want to repopulate a database for him for a third time only to have the same thing happen again. When I was pulling double-duty for him, running the aviation supply shop three days a week and his maintenance hangar the other two (with a sign on the door asking anyone wanting to buy something right then and there to call a number and wait five to ten minutes for me to show up and let them in, because that’s a smart business practice, dontchaknow), the director of maintenance and myself devised a business plan that would shift that operation away from servicing the owner’s personal and flight school aircraft toward one geared toward public aviation repair (ya know, to actually generate revenue for a change). Part of that involved hiring either a full-time or part-time office manager who would be in charge of ordering, receiving, data entry, payroll, and inventory management. When we presented this to the owner, he actually seemed receptive.

Then nothing happened. I was returned to the shop by the director of maintenance with a bright outlook only to see nothing happen. The director left a few months later, frustrated by the owner’s lack of movement, to be replaced by a more shop-focused, computer-repulsed director. And I was then buried, again, under mountains of files and paperwork to help do everything that should have been done months ago, all because he was so hard-headed and egotistical, which brings me to my next reason: His ego.

I REFUSE to work for anyone who refuses to listen to my advice. For the three years prior to my leaving, the owner would come by once every month or two to look around the shop and complain about the need for increased revenues. The problem is that aviation supply is a pretty static industry that is in danger of being left behind in favor of digital products, especially charts and textbooks. Hell, you can already get digital versions of FAA publications FOR FREE on their website. (I’m not even kidding. If you’re looking to take up aviation, go on there first, especially if you’re a more digitally-inclined learner.)

So, while I understand the need for product to rotate better through the store so that we could replace it with product that moves better, the problem really is that there isn’t really any major new innovation in the products we carry and sell, aside from slight modifications and new editions. He didn’t listen any of the times I attempted to explain that.

There was also another little problem: NOT ENOUGH CUSTOMERS! Here’s where my gripes really begin in earnest. Over my four years there, the shop was moved out of the main terminal building into a temporary building for two years and then from there back into the newly remodeled terminal building. Combine that with the previous two locations over the five years prior to my arrival, and that leaves a whole lot of confused customers, which is horrible for business.

But there are ways to bring them back. We call that “advertising”. Apparently, the owner, a BUSINESS OWNER, mind you, didn’t see conventional means of advertising as worthwhile expenditures. I’m not even kidding. I floated every tried-and-true method in the books, and he scoffed at them. (This is an English major telling a business owner how businesses work. Welcome to my life.) And When I say “every tried-and-true method”, I mean exactly that. I’ve never taken anything beyond a basic intro business course, or two, in college, and even I know the value of things like signage, flyers, and print ads. I also know that, while they take money to produce, they pay dividends in the end. But that wasn’t worth anything to him. Instead, his solution: Put in a sandwich counter.

You read that right. I’m not even kidding.

We didn’t even have a sign by the road or on the building, and his big scheme was to incur more overhead and more costs on a gamble that selling sandwiches would save that shop. Now, I understand the thinking (yes, I really do), and it all stems from the fact that, years ago, there was a restaurant in the terminal building. It was a little cafe with a view of the runway and ramp where pilots could come get a bite and watch airplanes takeoff and land. I would get customers every now and then inquire about it and if there were plans to open another one.

So, I get where the owner was coming from there, but here’s why it’s idiotic: A sandwich counter is not a restaurant, and we don’t have views of any airplanes at all. We have wonderful views of two parking lots. Yippee. That’s not what pilots want. Pilots become pilots because they love airplanes, and they love flying. And that’s beside the fact that the expenses to start up and operate a sandwich counter were a ridiculous gamble. Plumbing would need to be routed to the suite. New counters and displays would need to be purchased, assembled, and installed. I would need to be trained and certified in food handling and sandwich assembly (which I absolutely was not going to do because that is not what I signed on to do for a man who refused to listen to me). New stock would need to be purchased and monitored closely. It’s literally putting two businesses in one space to be run by one person. It’s asinine.

This is a man who was unwilling to put up a sign for a business, because it cost money, but open a sandwich shop was apparently free? This was my life for the past year, my hand to god. I say that, because I barely even believe that it happened, that that was reality. No one could possibly be that stupid and egotistical, right?


So, when August rolled around, and he first floated the idea of shutting down the shop, which terrified me to my core. It was a complete jolt to the system hearing that the shop I had kept afloat through the negligence and incompetence of two owners for three and a half years wasn’t worth saving. It was jarring. And then infuriating. I made my plea to him, arguing the need for a good aviation supply shop in the city, that it had been viable in the past and could be again; we just needed some advertising. His response: “Why didn’t you send me a proposal before?”

I wanted to hit him. I did. He just lobbed me under the bus like this whole thing was my fault. Why would I waste my own personal time to create and submit a proposal for something that had already been shot down a number of times before only to have it shot down again? If you’re not going to listen to my advice verbally, why would having it in writing make any difference? I understand that it could. I don’t, however, understand why it should. Does that make any sense? I shouldn’t have to write out something for you to listen to my advice. That’s at least how I feel, that verbal communication should be the embarkation point for furthered correspondence, especially with someone you meet with on a regular basis. And when that verbal communication breaks down and is outright disregarded, what incentive is there to continue along that same course?

So, I made a proposal with industry research and price quotes, everything from the value of roadside signage to a mock-up of print/digital ads we could run in aviation magazines. The two things he zeroed in on from it were the print ad and search engine optimization for the website. He never followed up on anything else. And beyond my initial follow-ups to those two options, he never pursued any of them. That’s when I put on my “Fuck It” hat, updated my resume, and started looking for other jobs.

The overarching reason for why I will never go back to work for that man ever again can be best summed up by saying I refuse to be underutilized and underappreciated ever again. My new boss here said to me the other day, “I still can’t believe [the owner] never utilized your intellect.” I hadn’t received a compliment like that from a manager in nearly a decade.

Thinking about that honestly makes me want to cry a little. That means so much to me. It really does. To the shop’s owner, I was an expenditure he could never fully justify. He couldn’t be bothered to try to make things work, hoping instead that they would just repair themselves on their own somehow. When that didn’t happen, he completely ignored our lack of advertising and went straight for alternative fixes. I refuse to try to work with someone who would rather sit in an empty room and listen to himself talk.

That’s why I’ll never go back.

-The Retail Explorer