Friday, December 24, 2010

Cockroach Corner

One of the few perks about being on Reserve is occasionally a nice surprise comes down the pike. But most such surprises are of the non-pleasant variety. When I saw Cockroach Corner in the itinerary for this trip I smiled. It's December and I was headed for Miami.

The weather was perfectsunny and 75 degrees. The blue Atlantic lapped against the beach behind our layover hotel. I took a couple of snaps and sent them to my sons toiling away back home. Their replies were contemptuous, but I asked for it.

As I strolled down the boardwalk I thought about how Miami got tagged with a curious moniker known only to the pilots of our company.

Way back in the early 80s we had a hub here with pilots assigned. It was a hugely desirable base and vacancies went exclusively to the most senior pilots in the company. One day the company's CEO, a guy I'll call “Richard the Big Wheel,” came to Miami to speak to the pilots. His opening words were, “It's good to be down here in Cockroach Corner.” Apparently he had seen one of the nasty bugs in his hotel room. The guys laughed.

He came to pitch a new plan he had conjured for our company. The plan was called “Blue Skies.” Under the scheme the employees, especially the pilots, would concede unprecedented concessions in pay and benefits so that Wheel and his lieutenants could use the savings to "grow" the company. When sufficient growth was achieved, he promised restoration and rewards. 

He made the same pitch at each base using what he called a “road show.” He was very persuasive. The pilots voted to approve the new contract, believing that blue skies, indeed, awaited them at the other end of program.

But Mr. Wheel didn't come through. The savings he picked from the employees' pockets went to buying hotels and rental car companies. The core business (the airline) languished and the other businesses got hammered by focused competitors. 

Wheel even tried to destroy the pilot's union. He failed at that too, and thus began the airline industry's most reprehensible pilot/management relationship, which endures today. No succeeding CEO has managed to regain the employees' trust on our property. (I say "property" tongue-in-cheek, because we don't own any property anymore; everything from airplanes to pencils are leased or rented.) But enough whinning. I promised you I wouldn't do that.

The Miami domicile is long closed. The pilots assigned here have moved away with acid tastes in their mouths for the company, or are commuting elsewhere. In fact, our presence here as an airline has diminished to only a few flights a day. Our competitor blew us away.

Now we have yet another new fearless leader who promises to restore respect and move the company forward to make it the world's best. It certainly is the world's biggest. If all our planes were parked nose-to-tail, the total length would be

You guess. I'll say it in the next post.

I'll be out of Cockroach Corner in a couple of hours, climbing into blue skiesGod's blue skies, not Wheel'sand headed back toward winter, hoping the new guy gets it right.

Merry Christmas and a prosperous new year.

Looking west toward Colorado Springs. 
Someone correct me if I'm wrong,
but I think the squiggly lines in the undercast
are heat dissipation from departing and 
arriving aircraft.
You know how I love to watch contrail swings.
Here's another. Watch this guy hit the sun.

Quote of the post: Fly it till the last piece stops moving.