My Dr. Ruth Story
I’m sure many of you are familiar with Dr. Ruth who was quite high profile some years back as TV personality/sex therapist/author. Her full name is Dr. Ruth Westheimer and she is still going strong in her mid eighties. Her website is:
I have a cute anecdote regarding my encounter with Dr. Ruth circa the early 80s. I was the Captain of an Eastern Airlines Boeing 727 flight out JFK airport scheduled to fly non-stop to Miami. We were busy going through our pre-flight routine in the cockpit when the senior flight attendant appeared and informed me that Dr. Ruth, who was a the peak of her celebrity around that time, was on the flight and flying in tourist class. I asked the flight attendant if she had any open seats in first class and when she replied in the affirmative, I directed her to upgrade Dr. Ruth to first class and tell her it was compliments of the Captain who was a big fan of hers.
We took off from New York and as we were climbing through around 25,000 feet en route to our cruising altitude, my windshield suddenly completely cracked such that I could barely see through it – it looked like a dense spider web. I found myself ducking down a bit in my seat with visions of the windshield failing and decapitating me. I directed the Co-pilot to fly the airplane and directed the Flight Engineer to contact the company and get tech support on the line.
After a discussion with the tech support representative who convinced me that due to the multi-layers of the cockpit window design, that I was in no danger of having a total windshield failure, I made the decision to return to JFK airport.
I got on the PA system and announced, “Folks, this is Captain Sandy Scott, do to a minor mechanical problem we will be returning to JFK airport and we will be landing in approximately 22 minutes. (I liked to use odd numbers because it made the passengers think that I knew what I was talking about if I was that precise!) Thank you very much for choosing us today and I am very sorry for the inconvenience.”
The Co-pilot made the approach and landing at JFK while I worked the radios. When we got to the gate, I left the cockpit to speak with and greet the passengers. As I stepped out of the cockpit, Dr. Ruth’s head suddenly appeared leaning into the aisle making eye contact with me and she said in her very high pitched, German-accented, very recognizable voice, “I want to speak with you, but not about sex.” When she started speaking, it got the attention of everyone in first class – they were all looking my way, and for some inexplicable, very embarrassing reason, I could feel my face flushing! It embarrassed me for some reason.
Dr. Ruth approached me and we had a very pleasant 20 minute conversation in the galley – she came up to about my lower chest and she said the reason she wanted to speak with me is that she wanted me to know how calming my voice was and how comfortable she and her fellow passengers were.
I had hoped that I had outgrown the blushing issue, which was a curse when I was in the police academy in my early years. For some reason, I often blushed when called upon, and Dr. Ruth was able to conjure back up that curse that afternoon!