BioBooksAwardsComing NextContactBlogFun StuffHome

Friday, June 17, 2005

Working For an Airline

Working in the airline industry has been on my mind a lot this week. Once, long before I hired on, it used to be a good, stable job. In the time I've been with the airline, it's been anything but stable. There's always some crisis, either fuel prices are high or there's a recession and people aren't flying or some other thing going on. Things have become really horrible since 9/11.

So how did I get to work for an airline when I majored in advertising in college? It seemed like a good idea at the time. I was out of college, needed a full time job with health insurance, and I loved airplanes and flying. I figured I'd get my foot in the door and then work my way into the airline's advertising department. I was hired in Revenue Accounting, which is also known as Hell On Earth, and I nearly quit before my four month probationary period came to an end. I hated that job so much, I literally became sick to my stomach every morning when the alarm went off. Fortunately (or unfortunately as the case might be), after 11 months, I moved to a better department, one where I didn't hate going in. I eventually ended up in Tech Ops, which I enjoy and here I am in 757 Engineering.

Okay, so why do I stay now? Inertia is at work, that and five weeks of vacation. There is no way I could go back to only two weeks. I need that time off to write too much. My ultimate goal is to write full time, so I figure I'm going to stay until I'm laid off or I finally start making enough money to quit the day job.

This week, working for the airline has been on my mind a lot. (To get back to my original premise.) Since 9/11, airline employees have become somewhat like tsunami victims. The first wave hit, then things seemed to stabilize, we went down to the beach to check it out, and wave number two came in. Repeat the incoming waves over and over and over for nearly four years. We have the same kind of shell-shocked reaction as disaster survivors. Every time things seem to be quiet, that maybe we can relax and just work, in comes another tidal wave.

And on Wednesday, wave number 10,894 hit shore. Six hundred more mechanics received their layoff notices. (Yes, this does affect me directly because the clerical support personnel for these mechanics will be/were also laid off and they can bump. I should be okay, I hope, but...)

My mind works in really odd ways, I'm the first to admit that. The project I've been working on for the last month or so has involved databasing non-routine maintenance work. The check package I'm working on was in hangar August 2001--pre 911. As I'm looking at these cards, I glance at the employee number and I think, well, he's probably gone. And I start wondering about some of these guys, what they're doing now, how they're surviving since being laid off.

Like I said, working for the airline now is like surviving a natural disaster that just doesn't stop. I think we're all numb now. The first few waves of layoffs caused a lot more reaction, now it's like, well, here we go again. I feel bad for the people affected by this current wave. But I'd just like some stability back, some sense that I can come to work without this niggling stress at the back of my brain.

MN Weather Report: 57 degrees.