Sunday, October 16, 2005

Kids These Days

There's no question that the industry is picking up right now. My company hired a whole bunch of people into their first commercial job recently. In a manner of speaking I supervise some of them. That manner being that I can get in trouble if they screw up, I can tell them not to do things, but don't have any real authority to order them to do things. They got these jobs without any trouble, and it shows.

We had an airplane break down in one of those places you can tell from the name you don't want to be. Ever noticed that when a Canadian placename starts in Fort or ends in River, it is in the boonies? When a place becomes civilized, it loses the Fort or the River and stands on its own. The dispatcher had made the phone calls and schedule adjustments to determine that we couldn't get a mechanic into Fort River until the morning, but could get the people out tonight, we just needed a pilot. I was there, but the trip conflicted with my schedule, so she started looking for someone else.

The next pilot in the door was greeted with "where are you going now?" When he responded "home" the dispatcher cheerfully made a game show 'wrong answer' buzzer sound and informed him that his next destination was in fact Fort River. And he said no. He wasn't dutied out; he wasn't fatigued; he just wanted to go home and see his girlfriend. He's worked for the company for about three months. Two of the new hires turned down the trip like it was some kind of joke. I wanted to throttle them. I wanted to bloody their snotty little noses.

The third pilot in the door started the same day as I did, one seniority number above me. This is beginning to sound like an episode of Wings, but the dispatcher greeted him with "You've just won an all expenses paid trip to ..." and everyone else chimed in with "Fort River!" He has a work ethic, or maybe his girlfriend was away, because he just checked the weather and went.

And then another new hire refused to come back in to sign a journey log, and tried to get the dispatcher to forge it. How do I list this difference in attitude that distinguishes me from the other idiots the employers I want to work for are considering hiring? Anyone can say he is responsible and committed. You can't prove it on paper. You have to prove it at the end of the day.

12 comments:

Aviatrix said...

I just violated this blog's 'no whining' guarantee. You can have your money back, if you like.

dph said...

Aviatrix,

I think that you are entering that time in your life when you say "When I was your age... " or "When I was starting out ... "

Just wait till one of the snot nosed little brats gets hired somewhere better because the boss just wanted them to be somewhere else. Then you can officially make the transition to curmudgeon, but I think we will still continue reading.

btw, any hints on how old you really are? Some of us might be interested in whether we can say "When I was your age" to you.

dph

Anoynmous said...

Without demonstrating it in person, the usual way to tell a prospective employer in advance what you're really about is through references. That requires the old employers to be honest -- not only about you, but about everyone -- and it requires the new employer to be trustful. Alas, the system is often compromised with euphemistic code phrases, so any apparently outstanding attributes are likely to get discounted.

So I guess you just have to be yourself, and trust that Karma works, even while you accept that life isn't guaranteed to be fair.

Traytable said...

I know JUST what you mean! Although I am not a pilot, I often do things that should fall to someone else, but I do them because they have to be done. That's the way it is in airlines. If my doing something not originally part of my job description means that delayed flight gets away sooner, or that vital contract isn't lost, then I darn well do it :)

I see the attitude thing as well. One particular pilot where I work you could call out at 2am on Christmas Day and he'd be there in 10 minutes if he could. Good work ethic, I suppose perhaps his parents gave him that and he's a top bloke to boot =)

Sometimes people make you want to ask who skipped them up the 'food chain' and made them the CP or the Ops manager!!

clumpinglitter said...

How do you differentiate between when you're just doing your job and when the company is exploiting you? Is a last minute flight something that pilots should just expect to do when they work for an airline or flight department? I'm asking because I really don't have much idea about the culture of being a professional pilot.

I'm trying to think of reasons why the newhires would try to get out of it. I assume they would be paid for it, plus get flight time, right? If someone from either of my flight schools was stranded in Podunk, I wouldn't think twice about going to pick them up. And I'm not even an employee -- the trip would cost me.

Is the airline industry in Canada like it is in the U.S., with union strife, bankruptcy, and pilots making ridiculously low pay at regionals and such?

Hmm, I didn't plan on asking quite so many questions. :)

-C.

Anoynmous said...

Perhaps there's a distinction to be made between I pilot airplanes and I am a pilot? The new hires signed on to do a job, but they're apparently not going to let that interfere with their lives. You and the other career pilots make it more than just a job -- and I'm sure everyone who recognizes that appreciates it.

Aviatrix said...

I think there are enough hints on here about how old I might be. You're welcome to say "when I was your age" to me, regardless.

Yes, last minute flights are somewhat expected. It's the nature of airplanes. You do you share, and you do more of that share when you're new.

We only get paid for revenue flights, so no, he wouldn't get flight pay for the trip. It's part of the cost of employment, like keeping your medical current and your uniform clean.

So you see, it's easy to tell when I'm being exploited, clumpinglitter: I'm being exploited if I'm at work.

Sam said...

Here's what I was about to type: "What the hell!? They told you 'no!?' Get their ass fired! When you're first paying your dues, you don't say no if it's safe and legal. A dying father should be about the only excuse."

That's what I was about to type, then I saw that it'd be unpaid. Hmm, suddenly I'm seeing things their way. Of course they knew that when they signed up, but sheesh. It's kinda tough to expect your employees to go the extra mile for you when you give them a flaming bag of shit in return.

It reminds me of Mesa Airlines' early days...if you didn't complete the revenue flight to your destination, you didn't get paid. So if you did a couple of tough approaches and couldn't get in, so you diverted - too bad. On several occasions, crews had engine failures on takeoff and did a good job getting it back to the airport - and didn't get paid!

Or is the revenue flight pay so high that it kinda makes up for the unpaid repos and ferries?

clumpinglitter said...

Well, this is all rather depressing.

I wonder if it's any different if you fly corporate? I suppose it depends on the flight dept.

-C.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Clumpinglitter - sometimes you just have to say no. I've worked for companies in the past that expected employees lives to revolve around the company. I don't work at places like that anyomre.

Personally, I work to live, I don't live to work.

Perhaps things are different in commercial aviation, but one needs to draw the line sometimes, or risk becoming a doormat for management who suddenly tries to dump every problem on their employees, frequently against their will.

Aviatrix said...

If you fly corporate you have a salary. You don't fly that many hours a year, but that airplane has to be where it's needed, when it's needed, or it's your job. If you fly corporate your life definitely revolves around your job. There are no set hours: you must be ready for takeoff typically two hours after you receive the pager call.

There's a corporate operation I'm thinking of, whose CEO is very well known in my province, any highly regarded, but the flight department and maintenance are miserable backbiting sods, because if anything goes wrong they have to have someone to blame. So instead of working together as a team, maintenance and pilots are constantly setting each other up to blame for the inevitable problems.

It's a very high stress job.

There are very few flying jobs with set hours. Maybe flying scenic tours in Las Vegas. Scenic tours other places would be "every daylight hour with suitable weather until you duty out" but in a place like Las Vegas the weather is reliable enough that pilots cold be scheduled certainly, and there are no urgent emergency scenics. They probably still have unpaid repositioning or maintenance test flights, though.

Sam said...

There are very few flying jobs with set hours. Maybe flying scenic tours in Las Vegas.

That was one thing that was cool 'bout Amflight. Set hours, M-F. And flights other than your scheduled ones got you 150% pay, revenue or not.