I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: manifest is far and away the most fucking difficult job in skydiving.
I’ve had a lot of hard jobs in skydiving, no doubt. From the boring monotony of editing every single fucking video shot by all the cameramen at Skydive Las Vegas to hand waxing an entire goddamn Twin Otter, I’ve most certainly paid my dues. Now don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying busting your ass on the packing mat isn’t back-breaking work and I’m sure as hell not saying turning 25 tandems back-to-back is anything other than brutal -OR- that sitting up front for 30 Otter loads without a shutdown isn’t fucking hardcore—but in the big scheme of things, I don’t think it holds a candle to sitting in that window.
There’s just no way I could do it. No way most of us could for any length of time, if you ask me. Skydivers can be a huge pain in the ass, as we all know—wonderful pains in the ass of course, but damn! From manifesting for loads five minutes out when their rig is still a pile of nylon on the ground to trying to climb on a load so blasted out of their minds they can barely navigate the way to the counter, experienced skydivers can push the limits of a manifester’s patience before they even manage to get load one in the air. We switch loads at the last minute, we decide taking a shit on the five-minute call is a great idea, change from hop n pops to altitude and back, ask how the weather is every five fucking minutes, chit chat in the window while they’re working their asses off, ask for the cute tandem student, stare at their tits (or Perris’ Manifest Dan’s ass) shamelessly, yell from across the hangar to put us on a load, to take us off a load, try and get on loads without a ticket, without a Cypres, without a fucking clue.
But for all the crap they may pull, a problem child fun jumper doesn’t hold a candle to even a well behaved tandem student. Now, in their defense, the average tandem is so pent up, terrified and on the edge there’s no way they don’t do or say at least something a little stupid, but by the end of the day, manifest has had to deal with so damn much of all of the above that it’s amazing they don’t end up naked in a bell tower with a high powered rifle …
I’ve worked hand in hand with many an amazing manifest master, and I’ve seen them handle the most brain twistingly difficult shit out there. It’s truly a sight to see, watching a true pro juggle half a dozen jumpers in the window, delegate a DZ briefing by a pissed off staff member, check waivers, fend off the unwanted advances of someone who thinks they’re being original and calmly announce the five-minute call while on the phone giving directions for the third time from a terribly lost but excited student, all without breaking a sweat. So how the fuck do they do it? No way could I cope …
Most of them have managed to cultivate one hell of a wicked sense of humor which, as the pilot on the other end of the radio, I get to hear almost every day (one of the greatest pleasures I have on a daily!). Some of them are insane flirts, some are all business, some drink like fish after work, some scream and yell and some turn completely mute, some occasionally cry like a waterfall; but by and large, if they’ve been at it for more than a season then they are badass at what they do! To see manifest in the groove is a sight to behold and I’ll put a well-choreographed manifest office up against a well-executed big-way for excitement and spectacle any day.
So show manifest some serious respect. Show up at the window with a cup of coffee or a box of whatever they like, a shoulder rub (unless you’re creepy), a kind word and ALL YOUR SHIT TOGETHER. Don’t be that jumper, OR, if you are that jumper, kiss some serious ass to make up for it (I know I have over the years). Go show manifest some love right now! And when you do, tell them The Fuckin’ Pilot told you to so that the next time I’m the asshole in the window, they cut me a little slack!
All hail MANIFEST!
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