Job Satisfaction

A recent Harris Interactive survey* found only 45% of Americans are “satisfied or extremely satisfied” with their job, while only 20% feel “passionate” about what they do. It seems a good job is becoming more difficult to come by these days. I will consider myself extremely lucky that I landed a great job, one in which that allows me to answer honestly in the “extremely satisfied” category.

Never before have I felt such satisfaction with a job I have held. While working at the airlines, for United Airlines I did feel some satisfaction but one important part of the equation that was never going to be met was the pay. Even in the best year I never cleared $60,000, this after 6 years on the job. Unfortunately that sixth year (2001) at United spelled that end and sent the airline into a worse tailspin than it was already in.

I was passionate for my position at United, from ramp serviceman to load planner and zone controller (operations supervisor) to the time I spent in Chicago in flight dispatch. As I mentioned before, the pay was never going to be there and in fact by the time I punched out of United for greener pastures my pay had decreased 35%, with only 3% given back in my final year.

Thankfully BART has been an excellent experience as I approach my second full year with the light rain system. Training was long and very stressful, but I feel I have been rewarded for the effort and hard work I put forth in order to learn the company, the system, the nature of operations and my position as a Train Controller in the Operations Control Center.

While the pay is something that would NEVER have come at the airlines, the benefits are something that are really good, especially with a wife and son, who seems to make monthly emergency room visits. The retirement plan does not include paying into Social Security, but there are two plans I have enrolled in, one in which the company uses in lieu of Social Security.

The position is unique unto itself and while I cannot compare it to any other light rail system I am still impressed every time I walk into work or a tour comes through and they see what we do from our office, which allows us to run an entire light rain system (90+ miles of track) through out the Bay Area. The job requires you grow in order to become a good or even outstanding controller. I am challenged every day I sit down for my two hour rotation and attempt to better myself. Granted I am still learning and will be for the next 4 years from what everyone says.

It’s funny to hear some bitch and complain about the company or their job (not necessarily in my department), especially those who have never worked at another company. A prime example, there is now a time clock and all employees are required to swipe in and out at work. Prior to this there was much “leniency” when it came to punching in and especially punching out. So I can understand the reasoning behind the system, but many were upset with the implementation of the time/pay system.

Thankfully I will get to put in a solid 25-30 years of work at BART and get the satisfaction of doing a good job each day, while having excellent benefits and great pay structure, as well as free rides for my commute. Can’t beat that with the way fuel prices continue to rise.

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