August 31st began like every other workday. The morning crew did not set up the sort facility correctly with a specific type of air cargo container that we need. Of course management comes out and instructs us to swap out everything with larger containers to accommodate all of the volume going into a larger aircraft. After a brief conversation the supervisor nods his head and claims that he will send an email to the morning, notifying them of a new container line up. This is the very same conversation has been going on for the last month, a nod of the head, a promise of an email, and still no change to the correct air containers. Everyday is the same and we end up changing everything. The funny thing is that we are only given thirty minutes to do our set up job. For the type of work that we do and as far as we have to drive across the airport ramp, it’s simply not enough time to make the changes and be expected to keep up. The Job itself is very simple. Packages arrive to the facility, the packages are sorted, loaded into air containers, and then the air containers are loaded into an awaiting aircraft, and off they go to the next facility. My job is to take the loaded container off the sorting facility, weigh it, and drive it to the correct flight that it is going to fly on. In the summer it’s a long hot day of pulling and replacing heavy empty containers. The empty weights range from 200 pounds to upwards of 1,000 pounds, with no packages inside them!
The last few weeks have been nothing short of brutal. We have been receiving huge quantities of packages, which is great! The hours are very long. I’m thankful for the hours and the paychecks! Just like many other companies we have a management problem. I laugh as I’m writing because the man running things came from a different facility that did not involve airline operations and it was able to process way more volume than we were ever designed to run. Things are a real mess. A little over three weeks ago, this man told our supervisor that we were slow and inefficient in our jobs. I would love to know the basis of his claim because like I said, he has never done my job. Yes, the job is simple but there are things we can do and can’t do in the real world. This guy was screaming on the radio a few weeks ago saying we were slow but had no idea what the problem was. My co-worker pulled his set of dollies next to the container that was to be pulled. Dollies are basically little trailers that carry the air containers that we pull around the airport with the help of a tug. Per company policy we are only allowed to pull four of these dollies at a single time. My buddy pulls his last dolly up to the first position outside the building. A nice yellow pole that guards a fire hydrant protrudes past the edge of the rack that holds the container to the building. Because of this pole we have to turn away from the building to prevent running into it therefore dragging the dolly away from the rack holding the container. Often times there is a really big gap between the edge of the dolly and this rack, which translates to a heavy container crashing to the ground. Oops, too far! Well, we are not new employees and we know this. So instead of the thirty seconds to remove and replace a container, it takes a little longer than that because we have to find another tug to push the last dolly sideways into that slot. Driving away is fun because you will experience a jolt has that dolly makes contact with that damn pole. So Mr. New Manager is screaming on the radio and even mentions us by name caused me to finally snap. I marched in and gave him a piece of my mind. Yes, I even told him that he needed to march his butt out there and physically demonstrate with a tug and set of dollies “I’m not going to do that!” In my smart ass fashion I replied, “Of course not because you have never done it!” I told him we have a problem with that pole and if he is not willing to come out and show us how to do a more efficient job, then he needs to stop complaining.
Ok back to the 31st. We were working as usual. The sort was cranking packages out and we were pulling cans one after the other, with very little time in between. After the next day package window, things were at their flights we prepared for the less critical two-day volume to flow through. Every container was in place and empty, I had a few minutes to breathe. My co-worker and I drove into the building and saw a foldable table set up with a happy birthday banner attached to the front of it. There were paper plates and cake residue left on the inside of a plastic container. One of the guys who worked inside took his finger and ran it through the cake and proceeded to lick his finger clean. What is wrong with this picture? Nobody on the ramp was told anything about this celebration and as it turned out there was only enough cake for about 1/4th of the employees. Thinking about this made me upset. It felt like a slap in the face. Here we are busting our butts in the hot sun, with no shade, doing are best not to fall behind, and yet some people had time to stop and get cake? None of the ramp employees knew. We were all spread out loading planes, and pulling cans. Business lesson, don’t treat your employees like that.