*sigh* Well, I am the only one left in the office on my final night of work as I count down the hours. Many of my co-workers were excited to see me moving onto “bigger and better” things. I am a bit surprised that I did not get any sort of goodbye from any of the managers, let alone a party, not that I really expected them to go above and beyond or give me any sort of luck before leaving. Remember what I said about being in that “circle of trust?” I was never in it. Not that it means a damn thing to me now.
So much of my career at United Airlines could have been titled, “The Good. The Bad. The Ugly.” after the Clint Eastwood western film. Why is that? Well, things were “good” at one time, back when I was hired in June, 1995. I was thrilled to FINALLY be hired by the only company I wanted to work for, United Airlines. This was partly due to my father being employed by them for 30 years at the time (would retire 5 years later). So this was the company that put food on the table, a roof over my head and clothes on my back. Why wouldn’t you want to work somewhere that had done that growing up as a kid.
While I was the bottom of the list when I was hired as a part-time, temporary ramp serviceman, I had faith in the system, my background and my abilities. Unfortunately, one thing I did not have control over, as I found out very quickly was the politics of business. At least I had a foot in the door and this position was only temporary as I wanted to move onto bigger and better, using my BS in Aviation Management, pilot’s training and FAA Flight Dispatch License.
I took it upon myself to start to learn about a new department, operations, where I transferred to 10 months later, after observing for about 4 months and getting to know a few people who put in a good word. Thankfully an opening came up and I was selected. These were good times and I wanted to prove I was worthy to be in the position and made every attempt to go above and beyond to be the best I could and I think I was. Always received positive performance reviews and my supervisor’s enjoyed working with me.
In wanting to gain more experience I took a transfer to Chicago and the flight dispatch department, where I acted as an assistant dispatcher, building routes, entering flight times, checking NOTAMs and doing a lot of non-dispatch related functions, but having to put my time in before being able to test for a dispatch job. The pay was similar, but I was in Chicago. Cold. Snow. Windy. The suck, as I saw it, flying home to sunny and warm SoCal every weekend. Needless to say, that job did not last long, 10 months and I was back in Los Angeles chasing a supervisor position, one that I would fail to get, loosing out to politics (and a skirt).
Thankfully I would get the position a few years later and spend the better part of my 11 years in the station control center of Los Angeles and San Francisco doing what I knew, managing an operation. By 2000, the company was already in trouble, but no one wanted to admit it. I do believe bankruptcy protection was looming on the horizon, but somehow the company managed to stay out of it until 9-11-01.
September 11 changed EVERYTHING in the airline industry and for those at United Airlines, it all changed for the worse including furloughs, layoffs, cutbacks, pay cuts, or what upper management deems, “downsizing.” I hate how they sugarcoat shit, because it still tastes like shit in the end. After about 12 months salary was down nearly 33% and I was feeling the pinch. Raises…pfft. Consider those non-existant (until 2006, when I was awarded 3.25%) due to the cutbacks.
This was “The Bad.” in terms of the company. At one point I was told to be “thankfully” for making it through all the downsizing. Well, if you know your job and do it well, why should I consider myself lucky or thankfully? Now, maybe I was a bit arrogant in terms of position, but I did know my job and that of all the positions in the control center from manager on down and could do them all, so I considered myself rather valuable when it came to sizing up the other supervisors.
The “bad” continued until I left Los Angeles for San Francisco and new opportunities, so I thought. I did act as a temporary shift manager for about 4 months, after successfully passing the interview, but NOT being selected (again, one skirt was hired and some unknown from Denver). I was told I that I was “too new in the station and no one knew me?” Huh? So you hired some schmo from Denver who no one knows? Keep the smoke blowing!!!
After I finished my tenure and upgrade job, I went to midnights to finish out my tenure at United, where I spent a majority of my time in operations as my own boss, in charge of everything! Many of those opened doors soon shut and the chances for advancement were lost, “The Ugly.” soon rolled in. I was very unhappy in my role at United. With little chance for advancement and the company now hiring supervisor from outside for $10,000 more than what I made after 10+ years at the company some bitterness set in. I know for a fact this was seen as a slap in the face from many supervisors in the same position.
The ugly soon reared it’s ugly head and to be honest I hated coming to work. The working conditions were terrible, antiquated equipment, circa WW2 (you should see our radio system!), Dos applications, Windows 95 on what few computers we had and a poor planning system that was always lagging behind technology. My attitude was piss poor, but thankfully I did a solid job on midnights once everyone left. Unfortunately, none of this resulted in a positive review (2006). Prior years, we had three shift managers who were professional and capable of doing their jobs and did them well, unlike now. The three stooges we have in place now could not run an operation to save their life, all they know how to do is act like lapdogs to the department manager, but don’t get me started on her, she is truly a piece of work. Needless to say, she was hand picked for the position by the station manager (See circle of trust).
Being bitter about the company, lack of pay and assorted other things, it made time slide by very slowly and really affected me as a person. Just ask my wife. I have been a completely different person than the one she married 2 years ago. The bitterness and animosity was terrible. I would usually tab my job as the root of all my moodiness and I think it was a fair assessment. While I would not bring work home, the attitude would follow and that only created problems.
Thankfully in May a unique opportunity presented itself, one that I wanted to make good on in order to improve myself and way of life for my family. So, while it has not all been bad at United Airlines, it not been easy since 2001. I think my father got at at the perfect time, because this place has gone to hell since then. As of this writing, I vow NEVER TO FLY UNITED AIRLINES AGAIN! I do not believe in the company and will not support them or their model of business. There are many other reasons for not wanting to fly them, but just knowing what goes on and how they do business, treat customers, I don’t want to be a part of that.
I respect my sister, who also has 11 years at the company as a flight attendant and I wish her well. She is a great employee when it comes to doing her job and serving the customer. Unfortunately, I am not that type of person. So, for her benefit I hope United Airlines continues to do business.
My patience has paid off, I never thought the day would come where I would actually leave this company. But that day is here and I am ready to walk through that door and NEVER look back or second guess my decision. I know I have support in place from my friends at BART and they want to see me succeed. Thus ends a chapter in my life at United Airlines, but begins a new chapter in my life.