An Effort to Encourage


Well-Known Member
I've been rather scarce in posting around here. It's been a busy summer, a busy year, really. Through some long conversations with my wife I've really scaled back my internet time. She's out of town and I'm on reserve so I've got a little more time on my hands to offer some encouragement (despite the current environment) to my peers on Jetcareers.

Last week Alaska Airlines management sent a letter to ALPA outlining the need for up to 80 additional furloughs in response to a number of factors negatively affecting our company’s financial performance as well as an 11% decrease in block hours flown through 2010. Looking at the seniority list, I saw that I'm 67 from the bottom (only 61 if you don't count the guys already on an extended leave). My emotions ran wild: anger, despair, fear. We just voted in a new contract with a double-digit % raise, new destination and Hawaii routes announced. It looked like we were on the path towards expansion and recall some of the 60 already on furlough. However, the new destinations and routes are just redeployment of aircraft and the company is struggling to show a profit.

It would be very easy for me to dwell on the fact that I'm just an expendable piece of this company, an expense that can be trimmed to make the numbers look better on paper. It would be easy to be angry at the people who toss furlough numbers around seemingly not thinking about this family of five who has a mortgage, food to put on the table, schools to pay for and gas tanks to fill. In their cubicle 80 pilots and their families are a defined cost to the company, not living organisms.

But I don't want to dwell on those things. It's a downward spiral: anger, despair, fear. Deeper and deeper it goes until you're consumed. Anyone remember that U2 song, 40?
I waited patiently for the Lord
He inclined and heard my cry
He brought me up out of the pit
Out of the miry clay

I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing, sing a new song

How long to sing this song?
How long to sing this song?
How long, how long
How long, how long to sing this song?

He set my feet upon a rock
And made my footsteps firm
Many will see
Many will see and fear

I will sing, sing a new song
That's actually from Psalm 40 in the Bible. Those that know me know I'm a Christian. I try my best to live according to the teachings of Jesus and the Bible. So in the face of this despair I hang on the promise in the Bible that says “my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” and “we know that for those who love God, that is, for those who are called according to his purpose, all things are working together for good.” Despite the uncertainty I can be confident that I will be taken care of. It might mean flying a Caravan between Anchorage and Homer five times a day or sweeping floors at Home Depot. Some call this religious stuff a crutch. It is and it works. It helps me stand confident and productive in the face of anger, despair, fear. I have given my life to Jesus and he will see that I'm taken care of.

It helps me clear the emotions and realize that this is a temporary setback. The economy will change, the retirements will resume, my 401(k) will be worth something again, I'll eventually climb back into that sheepskin seat. I've still got over 20 years for the pendulum to swing. This is an opportunity for me to try something else. Part of my identity is being an airline pilot and it will be hard to do something else, but I know my God will open doors of opportunity. The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. I can do that with a yoke in my hand or with a broom to the floor. It's not about me.

“It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: "And this, too, shall pass away." How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!”
-Abraham Lincoln
I'm not one for the religious way, but stick to what works for you! Keep your chin up!

Good luck to you Cheechako! :)
Hey Chris I'm very sorry to hear that and wish there was something I can do. You obviously have such a great attitude and should have no trouble at all in finding some way to continue providing for your family. Take care.
I wish you only the best Chris. Could be worse, you could be stuck in a cockpit with me, on a ground stop in ORD! :)
I wish you the best of luck Chris.:)

I work just down the hall from Alaska flight ops, so if you ever have free time let me know and we could meet up.