The Gripe Sheet

By Marns AKA Bumpkin <>

Rated: PG

Submitted: June 2007

Summary: Airports, VIPs, bureaucracy, humanity, serious lack of sleep = hilarity?

Disclaimer: Not mine, none of it, can't claim a damn thing except that the fact that I wrote this after the muse being dead after over a year, and that in itself is rather 'Super' :) AN: I got an email sent to me a long time ago by my loving husband and I laughed my butt off, I held onto it — it was too funny to delete and I knew that I had to do something with it at some point — no clue what at the time of course, but something. Then this idea came to me and I wrote this whole fic — minus any fine-tuning I will do — in about three hours. Impressed me, I don't know about anyone else. <g> The email that spawned this little flight of fancy is faithfully copied in its entirety at the bottom of the fic itself for those that are curious.


Lois elbowed Clark in the ribs sharply, waking him from a much-needed snooze. He had been really racking up the spandex hours, enough that even he was feeling the drain. It also didn't help his sleep deprivation much when they were called in on their day off to wait to pick up some visiting muckety-muck at his remote personal airfield. Then they found out when they got there that his-high-and-mighty's small private plane had been delayed, leaving them waiting for at the very least, a couple of hours.

Lois' less than subtle manner of getting his attention woke him after what felt like bare minutes after finally falling asleep. It also unbalanced him enough that he barely caught himself from falling. He managed though, with an unobtrusive and judicious use of super-powers.

"Wha-at?" Clark groused. Glasses slightly off kilter and riding low on his nose only added to his disheveled look as he turned to glare at his pushy partner. Lois almost melted right on the spot — he looked so adorable, but was quickly reminded of what she had woken him for when she caught sight of the mechanic's suspicious behavior over his shoulder again. Her eyes narrowed and Clark turned to see what had captured his girlfriend's attention.

As Clark looked through the glass of the small private airstrip's office to the attached hangar, Lois could see that Clark was with the program. She began to mutter quietly, "That guy there, the one in the mechanic coveralls. He's acting funny. He keeps picking up these slips of paper out of that box on his bench, reading them as he's going over to the planes, but then half the time he stops halfway there and comes storming back ranting at the paper in his hand. Sometimes he does actually do something, but most of the time he just turns around and scribbles something on the offending paper and tosses it. He's scattered those slips of paper all over that area like so much oversized confetti, it's peculiar."

Clark raised an inquiring eyebrow at her and asked dryly, "Yes? And what would you like me to do about this admittedly odd behavior?"

"Well *duh* Clark! I want you to listen in on him with your super-listening-thingy and tell me what's going on!" Lois ranted, albeit in a whisper. Clark shrugged and tilted his head 'just so' which let Lois know he was doing as she had asked. She waited impatiently.

She became more anxious as she watched Clark's lips begin to twitch like they tended to when he was having a hard time keeping Clark locked away while he was in 'the Suit'. Then something pushed him over the edge and he began to snicker out loud.

Lois poked him repeatedly. She whispered stridently in the ear closest to her. "What? C'mon Clark, don't keep me in suspense here, tell me what's happening!" Clark weakly batted her sharply prodding fingers away from his ribs as he continued to laugh, but he began to report in a sotto voice what the mechanic was obviously freaking out about.

"It seems this airport has a thing where the pilots have a form they fill out called a 'Gripe Sheet'. It's supposed to be a way for the pilots to let the mechanics know if there are any problems with the plane from the flight time. But it seems to have fallen into the same bureaucratic nonsense that most forms of that nature tend to do after any time in use."

He broke off as a particularly loud rant grabbed their attention. They watched in a kind of horrified fascination as the man in the grease-covered coveralls apparently totally lost it. He threw both paper and pen violently away, undid his tool belt and let it fall unheeded to the floor at his feet and stormed out. There were a few minutes of silence and then a car door being slammed shut was heard, followed shortly afterwards by the roar of an engine being revved to a high speed along with the protesting squeal of tires being pushed beyond their limit.

Looking at each other in the aftermath, Lois and Clark were in perfect accord. They got up and headed towards the recently abandoned area. There was no way that they could resist seeing for themselves what had made the mechanic snap in such a spectacular manner.

Shuffling through the papers Lois leaned down to pick up a handful, seeing out of the corner of her eye her handsome partner do the same. They began leafing through their respective gatherings. Reading silently at first, but that didn't last long as what was on the papers began to get to them. They started to snortle quietly, then as they read more they began to alternate between clear snorts and chuckles and finally they were laughing outright. Laughing so hard that their legs wouldn't support them and tears were streaming down their faces.

They began to read out loud ones that really struck their funny bones,

"Clark, here's one after your own heart — Problem: Left inside main tire almost needs replacement. 'Mr. Mechanic' thought all that was called for was a bit of grammatical finicking — his solution was: Almost replaced left inside main tire."

Clark threw her a mock wounded look, but ruined it by laughing anyway. He came back with, "Well here is one that you should appreciate — the problem was: Aircraft handles funny. Your 'Mr. Mechanic's' solution was that he had: Warned the aircraft to straighten up, fly right, and be serious."

Lois balled up a few of the 'oh-so-handy' pieces of paper lying around and pitched them at her teasing boyfriend. "You twit! Just because I said almost the same thing to you word for word when we were flying back from Smallville after Thanksgiving doesn't mean that I would ever think to try it with an airplane. You were just acting all goofy and silly for some strange reason and I was in major danger of losing the wonderful dinner your mom had fed us. I don't get cooking like that often enough to even toy with the idea of motion sickness!"

"Poor baby," Clark crooned in patently false sympathy and then had to duck as more balls of paper flew at him. "Hey!" He protested with a laugh. Lois backed down and began flipping through the papers again.

Suddenly she began to snicker, "Listen to this one — the problem was: Test flight o.k., except auto-landing very rough. The solution line is a question\exclamation saying: Auto-land feature not installed on this aircraft?! There is some reason I am really glad that was on the test flight, if you know what I mean."

Clark couldn't answer her; he was too busy hiding his face in his hands. Lois grabbed his momentary disarray to her advantage and started reading a second one that had caught her fancy. "Problem: Autopilot in altitude-hold mode produces a 200 feet-per-minute descent." Lois glanced at Clark to see if he was paying attention. He was, she could see the fingers of one hand splayed wide enough for him to peer through at her.

She grinned wickedly, "Solution: For some reason we cannot reproduce this problem on the ground." Clark's shoulders shook, and little harsh sounding gasps escaped his sheltering hands. Lois began to wonder if it was possible that Superman could asphyxiate from laughing too hard, but then Clark calmed down, easing her mind.

Clark held up three sheets while he got his breath back, reading them off in quick succession once he had. "Problem: Something loose in cockpit. Solution: Something tightened in cockpit." Lois snickered, she thought to herself 'Okay, okay — that was just too easy a set up to resist, I have to agree'.

Clark read the second, "Problem: Dead bugs on windshield." He looked up at Lois smirking, "Solution: Live bugs on back-order." Lois groaned and giggled. 'God, that was so juvenile!' But funny, she had to admit it. Clark was already beginning to read the third aloud, making a point to keep his voice at its most laconic.

"Problem: Suspected crack in windshield. Solution: Suspect you're right." They both cracked up at that one. Clark's delivery had been too perfect for words, his mid-western accent adding just the right amount of "good ol' country-boy" drawl.

Lois idly paged through a few more scattered around her while she continued to chuckle. One caught her eye and she picked it up to read aloud, an action that allowed the one stuck to its back to fall loose. It was priceless too, as was the third that she saw by her hip.

Unable to stop snickering she said, "Clark, get these… Problem: Target radar hums. The solution is: Reprogrammed target radar with lyrics. Good one for me to find, huh?"

Clark grinned. "Cute, and yeah it suits." Lois held up the second paper and Clark grandly gestured for her to go ahead.

"Ok, this is more of a Jimmy one — Problem: Number three engine missing. Mr. Wise-acre Mechanic said in solution: Engine found on right wing after brief search."

Clark snorted. "Oh Lord, you know I can almost see Jimmy saying something like that to Perry or one of the other higher-ups at the Planet after one of those totally moronic requests they sometimes make of him with a totally straight face, and getting away with it. Can't you?"

Lois nodded and giggled as she held up her third paper, "Well if the last was a gopher-boy/Jimmy tribute, then this one might be a gossip columnist tribute… Problem: Mouse found in cockpit. Solution: Cat installed." Clark groaned, but his eyes were dancing just as much as his love's were.

He held up a single slip of paper, "This isn't the most PC thing out there, but it's not the worst either and I think it's funny. You of course are free to disagree. It'll have to be the last though — I think I hear the plane of our V.I.P. beginning its approach." Lois smiled and nodded that she understood. Clark winked at her and read out, "Problem: Noise coming from under instrument panel. Sounds like a midget pounding on something with a hammer. Solution: Took hammer away from midget."

Lois knew she shouldn't laugh. Really, it shouldn't have been funny, but she dissolved into giggles and couldn't catch her breath at all. After all the others it was just the icing on the cake for sheer absurdity and hence her downfall. Grinning like a fool himself, Clark scooped her up and flew them back to the office where they were supposed to be waiting. Lois was thankful he had the presence of mind to do so; it wouldn't have looked good for them to be found in the mechanic's area there when the V.I.P. arrived.

Finally getting her breath back for hopefully the last time for the day, Lois murmured to Clark, "I only regret that we couldn't scoop some of them to show Jimmy, Perry and your parents — because you know that no-one is gonna believe us!"

Clark didn't say anything, he just disappeared in a blur and when he returned barely minutes later, he opened his suit jacket and showed her some neatly folded photocopies of some familiar looking papers. Lois didn't bother to say anything in return either, she just laid the biggest, most toe-curling kiss on her man that she possibly could, leaving him pretty much a stunned wreck when she finally released him.


The Gripe Sheet

After every flight, Qantas Airlines pilots fill out a form, called a "Gripe Sheet," which tells mechanics about problems with the aircraft. The mechanics correct the problems, document their repairs on the form, and then pilots review the gripe sheets before the next flight. Never let it be said that ground crews lack a sense of humor. Here are some actual maintenance complaints submitted by Qantas(tm) pilots and the solutions recorded by maintenance engineers. (By the way, Qantas is the only major airline that has never had an accident.)

(P= The problem logged by the pilot.)

(S= The solution and action taken by mechanics.)


P: Left inside main tire almost needs replacement.

S: Almost replaced left inside main tire.


P: Test flight OK, except auto-land very rough.

S: Auto-land not installed on this aircraft.


P: Something loose in cockpit.

S: Something tightened in cockpit.


P: Dead bugs on windshield.

S: Live bugs on back-order.


P: Autopilot in altitude-hold mode produces a 200 feet-per-minute descent.

S: Cannot reproduce problem on ground.


P: Evidence of leak on right main landing gear.

S: Evidence removed.


P: DME volume unbelievably loud.

S: DME volume set to more believable level.


P: Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick.

S: That's what they're for.


P: IFF inoperative.

S: IFF always inoperative in OFF mode.


P: Suspected crack in windshield.

S: Suspect you're right.


P: Number 3 engine missing.

S: Engine found on right wing after brief search.


P: Aircraft handles funny.

S: Aircraft warned to straighten up, fly right, and be serious.


P: Target radar hums.

S: Reprogrammed target radar with lyrics.


P: Mouse in cockpit.

S: Cat installed.


P: Noise coming from under instrument panel. Sounds like a midget pounding on something with a hammer.

S: Took hammer away from midget.