Sunday, October 25, 2009

Doing What We Love - Loving What We Do

Hey Flight Attendants! Thank You! 

(Addenda italicized - ADDED 10-28-09)
Tonight's newspaper announced that US Airways must lay off 1000 employees. Last year it was over 2000. So, when taken together, these numbers represent about 10% of their 32,000 employees.

In my book, any story about people losing their jobs is heartbreaking.

But as I scrolled to the bottom of the article and trolled though the reader comments, my heart hurt.

Their comments were nothing short of vicious. Many were actually gloating over the economic woes of one of our biggest local employers.

The bloggers repeatedly called the airline "clueless" asserting it is a business that deserves to fold. This is a company where corporate executives have routinely considered the sentiments of their shareholders over their passengers. The mean spirited comments comparing them unfavorably to their biggest rival is their reward for their MBA operating philosophy.

Now, I own my own business. I know how hard it is to compete in today's marketplace. Our firm's success hinges on having staff that genuinely cares about our clients.

So, here's what I hope. 

I hope US Airways executives embrace a new corporate culture. One that appreciates and respects their passengers as much as their passenger's money. 

I hope it then survives and thrives. I hope it can eventually hire all of their staff back and add more. I hope they eventually expand their route structure and fly to China.

I also hope to see a day when those self-righteous, hate filled, blog posters fly to Oz and get a heart from the Wizard. 

This airline has joined its rivals and has brought us more choices in economy fares (with assigned seats). It has helped me make my own business stronger by allowing me to cultivate new  clients in new states. Its demise would only hurt the economic recovery of our region.

For goodness sakes, try out some empathy, US Airway's employees are our neighbors.

Herewith My Original Posting

With limited time given to us by our creator we can't afford to waste it working in jobs we hate.

I have always loved my chosen field; architecture. Before kindergarten, I knew I wanted to spend my life creating the built world. I didn't chose it for money. There's lots of ways to make more money with a lot less effort.

In fact when I look around, I realize my family is filled with artists, teachers, and people who do what they do, simply because they love doing it.

Perhaps I'm off base, but after talking to a whole lot of flight crews over the years, I have come to realize most do it because it is what they love to do. 

It can't be for the money. And it hasn't been for the glamour for a couple of decades now.

And the airlines seem to find new ways every year to make it harder and harder for them to enjoy their one big perk - free travel.

They are not there for our comfort, they are there for our safety. It is a job with unpredictable hours, requires a lot of training, and the patience of a saint. 

One minute they may be settling seating disputes, serving drinks, or performing first aid. The next minute they are serving as human shields protecting pilots that need a break.

With the new baggage rules they are blowing out their backs helping people lift baggage into overheads. And lets face it many of them qualify for the seniors menu at Denny's.

Yet, I love that. I have a warm feeling every time I see some grey hair in the flight deck. I feel the same way when I see knowing, experienced eyes twinkle as they greet passengers boarding an aircraft.

The airwaves go nuts when the rare mistake is made (whoops, we flew past the airport....).  And everyone seems to love to regale us with a "flying nightmare" story.

But flying is still the safest way to get from here to there fast.

And that is, in a large part, thanks to well trained flight crews that love what they do.

So next time you get on the plane, shut off your flippin cell phone in the jetway.  Smile and make eye contact with the crew. Offer them a genuine "Hello".

And on your way out, give them a warm "Thank You!"

I do, and I mean it!

Roadboy's Travels © 2009

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Spooky Nights Ahead

My Scariest Travel Day

I've been pretty lucky in all my years of travel.

I've never been the victim of a major crime, never been involved in any sort of major vehicular wreck, never encountered any lost spirits haunting the historic Inns owhere I've slept over the years.

I did, however, have one Stephen King experience that stands out as my scariest travel moment.

It happened at a hotel in Alexandria Virginia. I won't say which one although I've stayed there twice and had a miserable experience both times.

The first event involved some unwanted wildlife in my room.

I slept pretty well in the "garden" room (which means my room was on the ground level and opened up to a courtyard with some grass and shrubs).

Per my usual morning routine I headed for the shower. Without glasses or contacts I was in my usual morning land "o" blur.

As the warm water from the shower started to spray my peripheral vision picked up something moving down around the drain.

As I bent over to see what it was I saw cockroaches. Lots and lots of 'em - scurrying out of the drain and running up the sides of the tub and shower curtain.

After a completely involuntary shriek, I jumped out of the tub, ripping the shower curtain right off the track.

Now at this point, primal instinct had taken complete control of me. I armed myself with the first thing I saw, my best dress shoes, whose heals became lethal weapons. I initiated project Roach Smackdown.

It got pretty ugly.

After my roach hunt I simply laid the critters side by side on the bathroom counter.

On the way out I informed the desk clerk that my room had become the insect equivalent of the Tate LaBianca massacre scene.

A little advice. If you stay in a hotel in Alexandria VA and are offered a "garden" level room, run screaming from the place.

I did.

Roadboy's Travels © 2009

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Police Chiefs, Chicago, and Crisp Fall Days

Time to Enjoy Fall and Time to Move On

This week was productive, but sorta grueling for me. I spent Sunday to Tuesday in Denver attending the International Association of Chiefs of Police convention. With thousands of police executives from around the world, I'd have to guess Denver was the probably the safest city in North America this week!

The Convention Center Bear Checking In

And, as always, Denver was beautiful and its citizens were gracious. Denver also staged one heck of a party on Tuesday night.

The Chief's Host Party in Denver

Note the Donut....

Chilly nights have returned to the Mile High City. Nature casts no doubt that snow will soon fall. I only wish I could have spent some time up in the mountains as this is the time of the year when the aspen's turn gold and their leaves literally shimmer with each breeze that passes.

After departing Denver I travelled on to Chicago to attend an American Institute of Architects conference.

This has been a hard week for Chicago. It would have been such a great host to the world for the Olympics. But, that is not to be.

Despite the pathetic spin the media has made out of it, the folks around here all get it. They know they would have done a great job and they are happy for Rio. Chicago knows that no one likes a sore loser, and this most amazing City of Big Shoulders is sure as hell not the kind of place that stops to sulk.

Instead, Chicago is enjoying a beautiful fall. Downtown streets are clean, the Art Institute is still free on Thursday nights, the planters on Michigan Avenue are still blooming, and the fountains in Millennium Park are still bubbling.

Soon snow will come here too, the plants will go dormant, and the fountains will hibernate till spring.

The North Bridge In The Chicago River At Night

American Gothic on Steroids

In the meantime, Chicago residents will still walk with purpose, the tourists will still look up, and the cabs will still honk a nanosecond before the signal lights change.

I love this city.

Roadboy's Travels © 2009