Something’s got to give

Who’d be an air-traffic controller? Terrific reporting from 1996 that brings home the tension:

Then, for an instant, his mind wanders — don’t forget to pick up milk on the way home — and suddenly he looks back at the scope and it’s gone: no picture, no pattern, just a mad spray of blips (and more blips now than there were five seconds ago) heading — where? North or south? Climbing or descending? He can’t remember, and though he tries to catch up, he’s already behind, conflicts arising faster than he can react — one here, one there — jets streaking across the sky at 300 miles an hour, the controller’s stomach in knots because he knows he’s going down, nothing to do but leap from his chair, rip off his headset and yell to his supervisor, “Get me out of here — I’m losing it!”