Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ode to the Trash Hauler

I realize I have pledged not to whine. (I hear the groans. I know, I know: Handles- PULL, Triggers- SQUEEZE. Boom!) See you back next post.

If you're still here, grant me this one deviation.

I'm troubled by something. I simply don't understand why a captain at a package hauling outfit makes a hundred grand a year, or more, than I, your humble correspondent―who hauls living, breathing humans. A co-pilot there is in a higher tax bracket than I. Where's the sanity in this business?

Would I choose to swap with that guy? If I did, I would think about how fortunate I was, as I counted my wads. I would reflect on how boxes never complain about the ride. They never bellyache about how hot or cold they are, and they never pester you for game scores. They don't ask for stuff and they don't need to be fed, watered or boozed. Don't need to go to the bathroom just when you're ready to take off, either.

Boxes don't shop around for another flight that will cost $10 less, and they don't bring carry-ons. Pound-for-pound they pay more to ride than flesh does. They don't need extra legroom or elbow space. They don't get mad at each other, and certainly not at their crews. They don't care if they're late, early or on time, and they couldn't give a rat's rear end if they crash and burn.

Boxes don't need wheel chairs and oxygen. You won't find AEDs back there, either. Boxes don't argue and they don't have to be given that abysmally boring safety briefing every flight. 

Terrorists don't care to kill boxes.

Big boxes never ask to visit the cockpit before departure to photograph little boxes sitting in the captain's seat. Tiny boxes don't cry and annoy big boxes. Boxes never ask to be re-seated. They don't ask for upgrades and they don't want to sit beside other boxes that they like or love.

They never thank you for a nice flight. Not a one of them has ever said “goodbye.” But to be fair, they are actually quite polite also: none has ever flipped off to a crewmember or each other. 

Boxes don't go home. They don't go on vacations, honeymoons, anniversary journeys, or business trips. They don't smile at you, and they don't frown. (They are quite emotionless.) Packages don't have to worry about a ride from the airport; they get delivered to the doorstep.

Yep, I'd think about boxes a lot if I knocked down a quarter mil, or more, a year to haul them. And when the day comes to hand over that last box, I could kick back and think about all the boxes I've delivered safe and sound to their loved ones.

Furthermore I could consider all those memories in great comfort because I would have made many trips to the one box that matters the most: the deposit box.

Ps: Don't get me wrong. I like those guys; I have many friends in the package hauling  business. (Better make that, “had.”)

Coming in the September issue of Aviation History: A "feature" story, that was born here on Decision Height. (I'll remind you later.)

 Beautiful, but best avoided.
"Reverse contrail"?
An aircraft's hot exhaust cuts a rut into
the cloud deck going into Colorado Springs.


Brent said...

Well maybe those guys are getting paid for choosing the right package hauler. I know a guy working at an auto parts store because he chose the package hauler that didn't make it.

Lowflybye said...

Cry me a purple river captain. Ha ha...

I'm out.

Chris said...

I'm not so sure that was a whine...

Squatch said...

The math is quite simple. I just paid $40 to send a 1 pound box to Arizona 2nd day air. That is the equivalent of $6000 for a 150 lb person.

Cedarglen said...

-And they don't merge companies (or seniority lists) and bankruptsy is rare. Hey, friend! It is you blog and you can P&M once in a while. With your rant is a bit milder than some...

Sarah said...

There, there. Sadly, the terrorists hate our boxes too.

Dan Gabel said...

Alan , short answer is your company is in/out of bankruptcy & doesn't make any money . United makes a million or two a quarter then loses more ! UPS makes a billion or so each quarter and bitches because we're not making more ! Our current contract was based on UAL , Delta , & Fed Ex , before first two cut pay , retirement , etc . We still have trip & duty rigs because we are paid whether we are flying , on a weekend L/O away from our families , or on a commercial D/H . The reason we have that is because of our union , the Independant Piolts Association . About the time we voted the Teamsters out & the IPA in , ALPA told us they wern't interested in representing us . They changed their tune after a few more " Legacy carriers " went bankrupt - Eastern , Continental , etc. They wanted our dues $ after our first contract ( which wasn't that great ) . Fortunately we stuck with our in - house union . ALPA ignored the RJ issue , not wanting to pay less than 737 / DC-9 pay . This has festered for 20 years or so , which is why the RJ's are flying so many of YOUR trips , Captain . You can't blame the guys flying the RJs , they just want to do what we all like to do . The RJs have resulted in a decline of service for the customer . I myself go to great lenghs and expense to avoid commercling to & from work with a company paid ticket . If you miss a flight due to mechanical , wx , etc , you're probably out of luck getting the next flight or 2 because they're probably RJs & full . Not to mention the harrassment by the TSA . Everybody I know that has to travel for business will drive or use other alternative travel before commercialing .As far as flying passengers as opposed to freight , I've done both : do you really think you fly the airplane any differenty with people or freight ? The front of the airplane always hits the ground first & if I look after my ass , the rest will be OK , too . I'm sorry you guys got a shitty deal with the pay cut & screw job on the retirement benefits ... but it's not my fault ! Another factor of our pay scale is we routinely transport hazardous materials that are prohibited on passenger aircraft . Those include Lithium batteries that were most likely the cause of the crash last year on Flight 6 out of Dubai . You did hear about that , both crewmembers died / no significant loss of life reported by the media . A couple years before we lost a DC-8 in PHL for the same probable cause . Had I got my first bid choice I would have been on that flight . I hope I would have been as lucky as those guys were .
I figured that you , being a much better schooled person than I & world famous author would know the answer to your own question . Glad to help you out . See you @ Moontown . Fly Safe . Dan Gabel , UPS DC-8 Captain involuntarily displaced / downgraded to B-757 / 767 ( Just kidding , they're fun to fly in their own way , just not enough engines ) .