Can you believe US Airways Flight 1549 Co-pilot Jeff Skiles is being represented by a speakers' bureau that is positioning him as a for-hire expert authority on training, teamwork and corporate culture?
It's unconscionable and yet another example of the shameless society in which we live.
Skiles deserves all the credit in the world for the heroic work he and good ol' Cap'n Sully did in landing the crippled airliner and achieving what New York Governor Patterson memorably coined as 'The miracle on the Hudson.' But, our hero quickly goes from mythological to moneygrubber status when he tries to cash in such a patently bogus way.
Leading Authorities, the bureau representing Skiles, is asking somewhere in the neighborhood of $15,000 to $20,000 for an hour-long speech from this overnight management guru. And, you know what? A few clueless organizations will pony up the money. Skiles will rake in an extra hundred grand or so for the next year or so (or until he becomes yesterday's news.) And, Leading Authorities will collect a handsome commission.
The whole tawdry tale cheapens what occurred on the Hudson that day and, in the final analysis, is really sad to see.
But, Jeff Skiles isn't to blame. We are. We've allowed our standards of basic human decency to sink in the same precipitous way US Airways 1549 sank beneath the Hudson that fateful day.
Call me old fashioned, but heroes of the past simply didn't capitalize on their 15 minutes of fame. In our reality TV show world of 2009, though, Jeff Skiles is just the latest in a long line of get rich quick schemers and dreamers that includes Joe the Plumber and every single contestant to ever appear on “American Idol.”
It's almost enough to make me want to take the train the next time I travel. Almost.