THE BELOW IS FROM A COMMENT ORIGINALLY POSTED AT THE BIG PICTURE THAT HAS BEEN REMOVED AND CAN ONLY BE ACCESSED THROUGH GOOGLE. It has to do with being an expert in the market with long experience. You are an account manager being responsible for client money. The market is giving signals that indicate trouble. The reality of the business is that doing the "safe" thing and just going to cash will mean that a lot of clients will leave you, since there is no commission for cash you will be fired or your client list assigned to another broker in the firm, that your company has a low tolerance for losing clients, but going ahead appears perilous. You now have signals that indicate a possible market downturn of major proportions, do you get out? What if you are wrong and clients miss huge move up? Signals can be wrong. This is a great great story involving risk, choice, and "pulling the trigger."

Imagine the following:

Part I

You’re an experienced jumbo jet captain with 25 years of experience. You’ve never had an accident of any sort although there have been a few tight spots.

This afternoon your plane is loaded with 306 passengers and crew, including yourself, and you’re sitting at the gate a few minutes behind schedule; should have been pushed back 10 minutes ago. Your flight is supposed to connect to Atlanta in about 4 hours.

There are still some unavoidable delays and 10 minutes later you finally get pushed back and taxi out into a very long line of other aircraft waiting to take off. If you’d not been delayed, it would’ve been 3 or 4 ahead at most and by now you’d be near cruising altitude. If you miss your gate time by too much in Atlanta, the company will be hosting a very expensive list of hotel guests tonight, and things are beginning to look like you might miss it.

As it is, you’re basically in a linear parking lot of heavy iron, and as you taxi at wheelchair speed you notice a large thunderstorm darkening the sky in the distance, even as there’s only sun and cloudless blue sky above you now. Boy, you wish you were getting the okay for takeoff now, but what will it be like in another 20 or 30 minutes?

There are still 10 ahead but you’re down near the end of the taxiway now, and you can see cleared flights ahead of you take the 180 degree turn, sit a moment, and thunder by you in the opposite direction. But now incoming flights are reporting wind shear on their approach legs to landing, and part of the thunderstorm is wrapping around and beginning to threaten the departure space. Each time a flight turns and departs you get closer to takeoff, but the thunderstorm gets closer as well.

Now, finally, you’re up next and you are cleared to turn and hold the runway for takeoff clearance. As you turn, you get a really good look at that thunderstorm. Damn!… that’s close, far closer than you’d hoped. You call the tower and ask about windshear at the airport. “None reported,” the controller says, but incoming flights are beginning to get put into holding patterns now because of pilot reports of severe turbulence on approach.

From your perspective now, sitting on the end of the runway, it can’t help but be worsening at least a little in the departure zone, but the flight ahead of you was cleared just a minute ago and he’s airborne. You’re next. While you wait, you look back down the line of aircraft now facing you and you can taste the tension they have as they wait for your wheels to roll them closer to a takeoff for themselves.

Another look at that thunderstorm… it’s still closer it seems… don’t know if this is a good idea. There are winds in that thunderstorm that will steal the lift from over your wings and put you and your fellow 305 souls in a big pile of fire, smoke and twisted metal just off the airport grounds. But the tower still reports no windshear from electronic detectors near the runway. The next turning flight behind you for takeoff is so close you can see the eyes of the captain and copilot watching you.

At that instant, the tower says your flight is ‘cleared for takeoff.’ Now the moment is all yours.

What are you going to do?

After waiting in that line so long… and while watching flight after flight take off… and after being told 2 or 3 times that there’s no windshear, there you sit with your hand on the 2 throttle controls connected to giant air-sucking monsters that will give you what you’ve been waiting for.

Your copilot is watching you and waiting for your instructions like your pet dog waits for table scraps.

The thunderstorm is even closer now, and you’d pray for the relief that would come if the tower canceled your clearance. But, no… all you hear is the tower repeat your clearance for takeoff. You’re sitting there like a dummy, cleared for takeoff but the sweat is beading on your forehead.

All the captains in all the flights behind you also heard the first and repeat clearances for takeoff… so "why are you still sitting there, fool?" All this is flooding your brain in just seconds or fractions of seconds, and you now only have one last tiny fraction left to make up your mind.

What’s it going to be?

You can refuse the clearance if you want to, but then you’ll have to taxi at wheelchair speed again down the active runway to the nearest turnoff, and there you‘ll have to wait until ground control moves some of the departing aircraft behind you out of the way just so you can go lamely back to the gate. And when you’d turn off the active runway, you’ll have to hear the flight that was behind you thunder into the air… and know that its captain and copilot are whispering about you to themselves, “fools.”

If you refuse the takeoff clearance, you won’t be able to get back in line again even if you wanted to, because your copilot worked an extra flight this morning and he’s due to be off the clock before you could get to the arrival gate in Atlanta with another huge delay. Not only would a number of connecting flights at Atlanta now be without their passengers who are on your flight, but you’ll have to put them in hotels tonight in the big city where you are, and it’s possible they might miss connections again tomorrow and stay another night in Atlanta.

What are you going to do?

You’ve been flying most of your adult life and every instinct inside your body and soul says, “Don’t go!” But everything in your chain of momentum; your company, the passengers, your copilot’s eyes, the flights behind you and the controllers are all telling you, “Go… go… go now, fool, what are you waiting for?”

So, what are you going to do?… You’ve now had an extra thin second to think, but you’ve got to do something and do it now. What’s the decision? We don’t have all day.

Pause a moment and think of what you’d do, and then read:

Part II

Okay, so you're the captain of this jumbo and you've made the decision. It's a go.

You and the copilot join your hands on the throttles and push them firmly over to maximum power. The engines whine up and that massive sense of thrust begins to press you back into the seat. We're on our way!... You’ve finally done this and it's a "Go!"

The tension immediately passes from your body and soul and routine takes over.

One fraction of a second after the throttles are pushed, your copilot hears a garbled sound, a tiny clicking sound, over his headset. He knows from experience someone may be having their microphone transmissions "stepped on" (when two simultaneous communications can't both be received), and if it's the tower's mike getting stepped on by another aircraft's transmission to the tower at that exact same instant, then "What might the tower have been trying to tell us?" he thinks.

Another fraction of a second later, your copilot tells you, softly at first, "We're not... I don't think, uh.. I don't think we're cleared," but he begins to say it much louder as you continue down the runway, gaining more and more speed.

You'd not heard the tiny clicked hint of a stepped mike and tell him "We're cleared for takeoff! They cleared us!"

Finally, the copilot almost yells the warning that he thinks the clearance has been "deleted," and that you should "abort!"

Now you're almost moving too fast to abort, but in 1 or at most 2 more seconds you will be beyond aborting.

The thunderstorm has now actually entered the immediate area at the other end of your runway, and it's raining now so hard there that you can't even see the end, and you couldn't see another aircraft either if it were waiting there for you to slam into it as it crossed the runway with the clearance you thought you still had.

Even yet the powerful urge you'd just had to refuse the takeoff clearance in the face of this dangerous thunderstorm is weighing heavily inside your head.

What are you going to do now?...

You wanna be twice the fool?... once for sitting like a chicken on the end of the runway with half the flying public lined up behind you?... and now again as you abort and possibly end up, brakes locked, tires screaming and smoking, sliding to a disturbing grinding halt beyond the runway's end marker?

That'll get the blow-out emergency escapes inflated and you'll see broken hips of old ladies when you finally get to the bottom with them. It'll close the airport for hours. They'll investigate what happened.

You'll get to tell 'em your dumbass copilot talked you out of an unambiguous takeoff clearance. Of course the tower will agree with that, so you'll be the bigger fool still.

What are you going to do now?... Think about it hard and fast... you've got another 1/2 second... that should be enough for a professional with your training, background and expertise.

So, what's the word, J-Bird?... What are we going to see happen now?

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