Wednesday, February 11, 2004

The Call

"Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable."
-- Sydney Harris

Anyone who has been following along with this Blog knows I work for the airline industry. Anyone who has been paying REAL close attention knows that the airline I work for is an express carrier for United Airlines.

Airline dispatchers are kind of like baseball players. You come out of school and you usually get hired on by a small regional airline. The pay is usually near poverty level and the turnover is incredible, so the workload is very demanding. After a few years there, you'll usually move on to a larger regional; one that flies jets on longer routes. Pay improves a bit, but you're still making only around $25K to $30K. After a couple of years doing that, you're ready to move onto the "Big Leagues"... A major airline carrier. This is where the decent coin kicks in. Not Earth shattering money, but at least you can carve out a nice living for you and yours.

I've been in the game for about 2 years. I started at a little turbo-prop operation in Wichita, Kansas, which I left after about 7 months. I spent some time running an Electronic's Boutique when I got the call to go to work here. I've been here a tick over a year.

Yesterday, I got a call from America West Airlines. They want to interview me for a position there.

So, the good:

--- They're a major airline, and are in charge of their own destiny.
--- They've made around a $50 million operating profit this year. Not an easy task in this economy for an airline.
--- They pay more, though I'm not entirely clear how much more.
--- Average high in Green Bay in January: 24 degrees. Average high in Phoenix in January: 65 degrees.
--- The Wife has family in town.

The bad:

--- They've had some serious problems that they're just now recovering from. Jury is still out.
--- I'll be back at the bottom of the seniority pile again... And in the airline industry, everything is dictated by seniority. That being said, if you're the captain of a sinking ship, you're simply the last to drown.
--- There is no relocation assistance.
--- I just signed a year lease agreement with my landlord last month. Dunno how that's going to go when I announce that I need to move out.
--- Average high in Green Bay in July: 81 degrees. Average high in Phoenix in July: 104 degrees.

The Ugly:

--- By my best estimates, it's going to cost me around $2500 just to move me and my shit to Phoenix from here. I don't have anywhere near that kind of scratch lying around at the moment.
--- The slum lords that I moved out from a couple of years ago are still getting jiggy with wanting their money. That's a story for another time, but suffice to say, it may pose a problem finding an apartment.

At the moment, I'm just a little overwhelmed. I mean, it's everything I've worked for these last few years, but there's those little alarm bells going off in my head. I can't put my finger on it. The moving money will hurt, but I can pull it off, I think. The lease thing I really don't think is going to be a huge deal, though honestly I don't know at the moment. Clearly, if they refuse to release me from the lease and demand payment in full, this deal is officially dead.

So, you're probably thinking, "you've come up with a ton of reasons NOT to go, so why are you still questioning this?" Well... Morale at work, in a word, sucks. Now, that's not to say that WORK sucks, because it doesn't. Our company has it's problems, sure. Which ones don't? There is no doubt of this. These problems manifest into unhappiness, and since we as dispatchers are the only ones left answering the phone, the ire and anger gets aimed at us. This, I can deal with. I was in the I.T. industry in one level of service or another for the better part of 8 years... This is Club Med to me.

The problem is there are a few people who I work with, and are pretty much paralleling my shift, who have such a negative attitude that it's literally painful to have to deal with sitting near them for the entire 10 (or longer, lately) hour shift. In fact, on two of the nights, the other three desks are populated with these people. And they feed on each other's negativity. They get so negative, in fact, they they fall wickedly behind on their work, citing a "fuck them, I can only work so fast" attitude. This is problematic on many fronts. The most troubling by far is, they'll refuse to answer the phones. Now, in a service environment, I can see putting your phone on "do not fuck with me right now" mode. In our line of work, though, the phone may be the only way an aircraft having a problem in flight might get a hold of us (though AIRINC radio, which operates via telephone). I, strangely, don't seem to have this problem of falling woefully behind, and if I do get so completely slammed, I seek assistance. I guess what really torques me about this is, someone has to pick up the slack. It's usually me. This puts me in a combative mood.

Now, I'm a patient man, but something about willful dereliction of duty just really twists my knobs. Lately, I've had a hard time keeping my frustration at these people contained in my pounding head. I'm about three "fuck this place" comments away from standing up, pointing at the door, and saying "yeah, why don't you?!" The attitude in there is like a virus. Hopefully, when we get new people in there, that attitude will improve. The company is doing what it can to help rectify the jacked up operation we're dealing with, but they're not helping any by staging these little "job actions".

There are 25 dispatchers in our office. Three of them have made me miserable. A fourth, who is (was?) a friend of mine is pissed at me because I was asked about something he made a decision on, and I came to a different conclusion. He stormed out of the office, leaving me about an hour and a half behind (he was behind when I relieved him, and he agreed to work the backlog), and without any sort of turnover report at all, so I had to basically figure everything out myself. Not a big problem for me, but very frustrating when you start the day buried through no fault of your own. That same day I worked through my backlog, then worked through someone else's backlog, then covered someone else's phones while they tried to unbury THEMSELVES!

Anyway, you can see that, clearly, I'm at an impasse here. A great opportunity, but at what cost?

My head hurts.


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