Climbing Down That Ladder

Today is just like any other day when working on the clock. Working on a clock alone is degrading. At my company, whether you’re one minute late or 59 minutes late, you’re “docked” one-half point. Imagine that for a minute — your livelihood could come to an end for that one minute. There is no “grace period”. Don’t clock in more than five minutes early, and don’t clock in more than 59 seconds from your clock-in time. You have six minutes of leeway. This is just no way to live, yet it is what millions live every single stinking day. And you ask why they’re not motivated?

At 62, I’ve had a LOT of jobs. It makes a bit more sense when you consider that I changed careers at 40. A journalism major stuck in advertising sales. It just wasn’t sitting well with me, so I applied for an unlikely position with a major US airline. (Since this is real-time writing, I must also say that I just sneezed 17 times after eating chile-laced pistachios. That betters my record of 14, so let it be known.)

Now where was I? Oh, US airline. In 1998, they had a “cattle call” for sales and marketing representatives. Approximately 400 people (75% men) answered the call, and showed up at the Chicago Marriott O’Hare that wintry morning. The first test was something I don’t even remember. All I know is that they culled the list down to about 200. To see those who didn’t make it and their defeated look was eye-opening. I imagined myself being one of those after the next round.

The next round seemed to center around numbers and logistics. How many numbers in order can you recall? (That’s an apt question for the airline business.) The other I remember was geographical — how would you make sales calls to these customers based on the fact that they were here and there, and you needed to make the most of your time. I knew I nailed that one, but the former I was afraid, for I am a bit dyslexic which gets worse by the year.

So then it’s the final word at this point. Who would continue in the process, and who would leave? More disgruntled (mostly) men, but my name remained. I was then further questioned, I went through two more interviews, and I was then employed (for at least a year) with this entity.

I suppose I never really aspired to climb up the ladder of corporate life. I had my little piece of it, I enjoyed it, but I just did not want to get to the point of managing people again. Only managing contracts and stuff.

So here I am, working for “that” airline again, albeit in a much diminished role and, they’ve now spun this part of the business into a wholly-owned subsidiary. Punching a clock. Getting one-half point taken from me because I was a minute late. (We only get 6 points/quarter to termination.)

Working at the airport, right in the front lines, is a first for me. What this job has afforded me is a lot of fodder for writing. There are so many stories, yet I don’t know the ends to them. Maybe that’s the key — leaving it up to your imagination as to how things play out.

My life in the context of 20th-century history and pop culture — infused with a dose of fun (where appropriate!) More to come when I get my sea legs on here.

My life in the context of 20th-century history and pop culture — infused with a dose of fun (where appropriate!) More to come when I get my sea legs on here.