Thursday, December 21, 2006

Welcome to Continental...but before you start....

I started my training with Continental about 4 weeks ago! On the first day of class I was assigned to fly the Boeing 737 and will be based in Newark, NJ. The 737 is the airplane I wanted to fly, but I would have been happy with just about anything they let me have my hands on.

Sometime, over the next few months I will switch bases and be based in Houston, TX. So far, training is going well, I've finished systems training and am now getting into FTD's (Flight Training Devices) and will be "flying" the simulator shortly after the first part of the year. They have me slated to be done with training on Janurary 16th and shortly thereafter, you can see me sitting in the cockpit of one of the many Continental 737's.

Something interesting happened on the first day of class. Various people came in and welcomed us to the "family" but one person caught me off guard. He had a paper for us to sign, but before we signed it, he explained what it all meant.

"We've actually been having some trouble finding good pilots to hire," the man explained. If I was surprised, it was overshadowed by my joy of reaching my dream. "Let's just go over a few points before you sign on the dotted line," the company man chortled. "We're going to send you to the world's most renowned medical center. They'll spend two days probing your body orifices, draining and analyzing your blood, and administering psychological exams. They'll literally take you apart and put you back together. If they find any hint of current or future problems, you're fired and can find your own ride home." "Gee, I think my health is OK," I nervously choked out.

The manager went on, "Good, next we'll evaluate your flying skills in an aircraft you've never been in before. If we don't like the way you perform, you're fired!" I was confident with my flying, but this guy was making me nervous. He continued, "Next, if you're still here, we'll run you through our training program. If during any time in the next 10 years you decide to leave the company, you'll have to reimburse us $20,000, or we'll sue you. Also if you fail to measure up during training, you're fired." The man who was telling us about our dream job listed still more hurdles.

"Each time, before we allow you near one of our multimillion dollar aircraft we'll X-ray your flight bag and luggage, because we don't trust you. Also we'll ask you to pass through a magnetometer each time. If you fail to do so, you'll be arrested and jailed."

"When you've completed your flight, we'll have you provide a urine sample, because we don't trust you to not take drugs. Very soon, we plan to take a blood sample to look for more drugs. Also if you ever fly with another crew member who may have used drugs or alcohol, you must report to us immediately. If you fail to notice that anyone has used these substances, you'll be fired, have your license to fly revoked, and be fined $10,000."

"Every six months, we want you to go back to the medical center for another exam. If they ever find a hint of a problem, your license to fly will be revoked and we'll fire you. Anytime you see a medical person, you must tell us about it so we can see if you need to be grounded and terminated. Also, we need to examine your driving record, and you must tell us if you have even any minor infractions so we can remove you from the cockpit as soon as possible."

"At any time, without notice, a special branch of the government will send one of its inspectors to ride in your aircraft. The inspector will demand to see your papers and license; if your papers are not in order, you'll be removed, fined, terminated, and possibly jailed." "If at any time you make an error in judgment or an honest human mistake, you will be terminated, be fined tens of thousands of dollars, and be dragged through months of court proceedings. The government will make sure you never fly again for any airline."

"You will be well out of town most holidays, weekends, and family events - half our pilots are always on the job at any point in time. Smiling an evil smile now, the manager went on. "Oh, and one last thing to cover. Occasionally, we in management fail to see a trend or the country's economy falls flat on its face. If as a result of one of those events the corporation begins to lose money, you as an employee will be expected to make up the losses from your paycheck."

"Now sign here," he pointed, grinning as he handed me a pen. With my heart pounding and tears coming out of my eyes, I signed the paper and got ready for a fun life at Continental. It's amazing what people will do to fly airplanes!

(The above is what some people refer to as humor, they didn't ask us to do any of that and I'm very happy to be with my new company. Continental Airlines has been more than welcoming to myself and all the new-hires. I can't wait to get out of training and start flying again!)

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