In 1998 Charles Spence – our beloved Capital Comments columnist – was awarded Lifetime Achievement Awards from both the National Business Aviation Association and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.
We played a part in making sure Charlie (as we call him) and his lovely wife Majel could be on hand to accept the awards by assigning Charlie the task of helping us cover the back-to-back conventions in Las Vegas and Palm Springs. After all, it was to be a surprise.
But this column isn’t about Charlie’s awards. It’s about a conversation we had during that trip.
As I recall, we were sitting at one of the tables in the press room discussing many very important topics. (Harrumph). As the conversation meandered, Charlie looked at me, pointed at my watch and asked me, “Why do you wear a watch?”
“Huh?” or something similarly profound exited my mouth before I could stop it.
“Why do you wear a watch?” Charlie repeated.
“To tell what time it is,” I responded, hoping I was keeping up my end of the conversation.
Charlie shook his head and said, “No. You wear a watch to tell what time it isn’t.”
“Huh?” was about all I could think, but Charlie started to explain before I could speak. Thankfully.
He explained, by way of example, that most people who need to leave at 2:45 for a 3 p.m. appointment will look at their watches at 2:30 and say, “It isn’t 2:45 yet, so I don’t need to leave yet.” Or words to that effect.
So, they now know what time it isn’t. It isn’t time to leave.
Charlie is a master of finding the perspective few others see. I’ve happily carried the memory of that conversation since it was made more than 16 years ago.
He has played an important role for us at General Aviation News. I’m sorry that role is sunsetting for him.
Charlie? My watch is telling me what time is isn’t. I’m just sad your watch has a different time.
Thank you Charlie, for everything.