A New Life – Meeting My New Co-Hearts
In January 2016, I left a 30 year career in radio to find a new path. Fear, doubt, and anxiety filled the vacuum at that time. I had no idea where life was going to take me. These writings are about my experiences and how I landed back in radio, but I truly hope they are inspirational to those who are going through something similar. The fear, doubt, and anxiety can all lead to a tailspin. I knew that. I also knew that I had to keep moving toward something…..and hang on.
As many of you know, Southwest Airlines uses a heart in their branding. You can see it in their logo, website, and aircraft. They also use “LUV” in almost everything they say and do. It not only represents their personality and approach, but the airline was also founded in Dallas, at Love Field. When you are “onboard” as an employee, you are a “co-heart”.
May 19th, 2016 was my very first day as a Southwest Airlines employee. I had to go to their “People Department” which is located in Aurora. Their office is on the bottom floor of a four or five story building. When I walk in, there are people everywhere. It’s a crowded room. I wasn’t sure if all of these people were also new hires or were there for a different reason. As it turns out, they were all new hires. All twenty-two of us. In my previous post, I shared that I had the choice of May 5th, 12th, or 19th. I apparently chose the date of the biggest new hire class Southwest has ever had. I found out later that the May 5th class had about 5 people, the 12th was about the same.
A little known fact about me: I’m shy. I’ve battled it my whole life. In a room full of people I don’t know and in a setting that isn’t radio, anxiety kicks in and I struggle to stay relaxed and friendly. I’m more comfortable being on stage in front of thousands of people I don’t know than being in a room with 22 people I don’t know in one-on-one conversations. Weird, right? But on this day, I made a commitment to try and break free of that and to make friends.
While standing in a line waiting to get badged (photo I.D.), I turned to talk to the person behind me. His name was Soloman. He was living in Albuquerque when he applied and moved to Denver for this opportunity. He was an electrician by trade, but his opportunities in Albuquerque had run dry. He’s about my age and was also having to start over.
Seniority is important at Southwest and more directly, the union. Given we are all brand new, the seniority would have to be based on age. Good news! I’m not the oldest in our class! I was the third oldest…..in a class of twenty-two people.
The next day, we all met at DIA to get our parking passes and to get a tour of the ramp. When I was a much younger man, I worked at Fed Ex in Memphis for a few months. I had been around aircraft before, but it had been so long I had forgotten how cool it is to be that close to them and to be on the ramp. With our employee badge and our airport badge, we got to go through most of the back doors and inner hallways of the airport. At 48 years of age, my eyes were as wide as a twenty year-old taking all of this in. But, this was just the introduction. The first day of training will be the following Monday.
Up Next…Orientation and Training: Learning the Airline Business.