Rigger by Association

My husband is a parachute rigger in the Army. He’s the coolest guy I know. He jumps out of planes and is currently teaching new Army kids to pack parachutes. He’s my hero!

But it’s not just his job that makes him cool in my eyes. It’s his passion for all things parachutes that really sets him apart. He wants to know everything about parachutes, not just what he NEEDS to know for his job. It’s all very interesting to him.

FYI, before I keep going, this may kind of turn in to a love letter so if you don’t care you can skip this one. I just really want to talk about this and share it.

I’ve always been my husbands number one fan. I will support anything he wants to do. So when he told me about a parachute convention an hour away and asked if I wanted to go I said, “Sure! Why not?” I don’t think he expected me to have a super awesome time and enjoy myself as much as I did.

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We drove to Portsmouth, VA outside of Norfolk to the PIA (Parachute Industry Association) Rigger Roadshow last Friday. I honestly didn’t know what to expect. It was held at a hotel so we walked around a bit in our casual clothing looking lost in a sea of business attire trying to figure out where we were going. As people passed by my husband would say, “That’s so and so. He is the guy who invented [something to do with parachutes and skydiving].” I was in awe. To me, these people were like celebrities.

The first thing we did was go into a conference room and listen to a guy talk about broken suspension lines and leg straps. To the average person, this would have been the most boring hour ever but I was completely engrossed. I was learning so much.

The next thing we did was go into another room and listen to a guy go over a rigging manual and changes to the manual. There was a woman in the room that made a statement about the military. My husbands arm immediately shot up into the air. He let her and everyone else in the room know that what she said was completely false. I was like, “Woohoo! You go, sweetie!” He was totally in his element.

After lunch we were back at in the conference rooms, this time learning about a new system used with reserve parachutes. The guy leading was the inventor of this particular type of system. While another guy was packing the reserve chute, hubby stood to the side trying to make the system fail. He was basically proving to himself that this system was fool proof. I stood and watched. I asked my husband a bunch of questions because I was getting into it all. I was really interested in everything I was hearing about.

We spent the rest of the evening drinking and eating food with all the parachute people. It was an amazing experience. These are people that have been skydiving since the 60s. These are people who have literally invented things. They are the engineers of the parachuting world. At one point my husband said, “There’s Bill Booth.” What do you call that when you are shocked to see a celebrity? Starstruck!! I was starstruck. I knew who that was because my husband has told me about him. I knew he was the pioneer of so many things including a device called a skyhook (you’ll have to google that one). I was thinking, “We’re in the same room as him. WHOA!” And we’re just mingling with these people like it’s a totally normal day at the office. That’s when it hit me.

These are my husbands people. These are the nerds of the parachuting world and he is a parachute nerd. And I got to watch him and listen to him be himself among his people.

I don’t think a lot of people get to experience this kind of thing but I think everyone should try. Maybe it’s part of being married and trying to do everything you can to make your spouse happy. I didn’t agree to go to the convention because I was going to learn about parachutes; that ended up being an unexpected perk. I went because my husband would learn and I wanted to spend time with him and support him. Everyone should try to do that. Find something you’re spouse is passionate about and suggest you both do something associated with that. Learn things about your spouse’s job so that you aren’t just listening for the sake of listening but you’ll actually know a bit of what they’re talking about. Take the time to learn. And if you think you’ll stand out at one of these functions because you don’t do the job, you’re wrong. No one knew who I was. No one knew I had never jumped out of an airplane before. I fit in just fine. And now we’re making plans for the next parachute convention!!

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