Why I Was Fired: The NASA Transcript

GROUND CONTROL: Come in, Aquarius 4, do you read me?

ME: I’m here, Ground Control.

GROUND CONTROL: Terrific, Aquarius 4. So the big moment is finally here. Again, apologies for making you hold above the surface for four days, but the landing thrusters are re-calibrated now and you’re all set. Not to make you nervous, but the President is waiting on the line to talk to you as soon as you step out.

ME: Great, great….I guess the TV feed is up too….

GROUND CONTROL: Three billion people! All the world’s networks will switch over to the main exterior shuttle camera in about two minutes. You can consider yourself watched by the entire earth.

ME: Great, great. There’s just one thi---

GROUND CONTROL: Go ahead and deploy the thrusters, Aquarius 4….you’re within fifty feet of the surface, right? They should work fine as long as you’re within fifty feet, just take her down gently, here we go….

ME: Yeah, about that, I’ve been meaning to raise a point for a few days….

GROUND CONTROL: What is it? Are the thermal jets kicking up too much dust? We can activate the sweeper, you’ll just have to go without A/C for a few minutes.

ME: No no, not the jets….it’s just that my position isn’t quite optimal. I’m not really seeing Mars at this time. Through the window.

GROUND CONTROL: What do you mean? You need an instrument landing? No problem, if the light--

ME: Well, it’s more like I don’t really know where Mars is right now. I mean, obviously I know where Mars is, but at this time there’s a gap between my coordinates and the planet itself, a fundamental gap, I would say, between the ideal position you’d like me to be in and where the shuttle is currently, um, being.

GROUND CONTROL: I….I’m sorry, Aquarius 4, you--

ME: Yeah, basically I think I’m pretty much lost. Essentially what I have is black sky without nothing in any direction.

GROUND CONTROL: Aquarius 4, what is your ConGen reading?

ME: Um….7778UL-44?

GROUND CONTROL: That’s----UL? UL?! Aquarius 4, the UL curve is ninety-five thousand miles away from Mars!

ME: Well, here’s what happened. Usually Uri takes care of the navigation, and we had this fight over the last juice box, and he kind of left in the pod on Tuesday.

GROUND CONTROL: He left in the pod?!

ME: Yeah, so….

GROUND CONTROL: We don’t even have a 7778 prefix in the system, you moron! I can’t even tell where you are!

ME: Um, I can tell you that the sky is a very strong, very definite black, with lots of little white points far away, is that helpful? I haven’t seen any planets or anything for a while.

GROUND CONTROL: Why didn’t you bring this up four days ago when you claimed you were holding above the surface?!

ME: Well….I don’t know, sometimes it seems like you guys are kind of judgy with me about things, and I was afraid that I’d get that tone, you know that tone I keep mentioning….

GROUND CONTROL: Aquarius 4, you don’t even have enough oxygen to return to the rescue vector!!

ME: Yeah….yeah, I thought that might come up, and that was concerning me, but I mean, you have to hear that tone in your voice the way I hear it, then you’d know how it feels to be on the other end of it. I can only compare it to this high school teacher I used to have, Mr. Jotz, he taught French, and I remember this one time where we had to talk for five minutes about our favorite movie, but we had to do it in French, so I got up and started, and I had taken a lot of cold medication and I wasn’t doing so well, and Mr. Jotz cut me off and said--

(Ground Control detaches communication link.)

ME: Hello? Hey, guys? Something’s making a wheezing sound in the aft hydraulic wedge. I was warming a hot dog in there yesterday and I think maybe I--guys?