My earliest Southwest Airlines memory actually happened before I even worked here. I worked in San Diego at the now-defunct Pacific Southwest Airlines, and was grieving the loss of a family member, who lived in Denver.
I needed to get back to Denver in a very short window, so I contacted Southwest in San Diego. Not only did they set me up with a standby ticket home, they went out of their way to comfort me during a sad time.
I had known Southwest before then, of course, and leading up to my job in Fuel Management, I actually sold fuel to Southwest.
It wasn't until 1991 (you could've guessed that by the title), that I saw my Southwest career take flight. I was actually on a fishing trip when I got a call about an interview, and left the trip at 3:30 AM in order to leave the island I was on, catch a flight to Minneapolis, and make my way to Headquarters in Dallas.
I began in fuel purchasing, and I've grown in Fuel Management my entire two decades here at Southwest. I work with the best in the business.
Southwest was bigger than I was used to, especially coming from a much smaller outfit. Even in this "Big Company," then-CEO Herb Kelleher would come around once a week just to say hello. I remember the advertising team would also come around, once every couple weeks, to show off our newest commercials. I knew they were coming when I heard the sounds of wheels, and saw the TV sitting atop the rolling stand.
The most frequently asked question I get from outsiders is, "How do you keep the Culture?"
Easy: hire the right People. It's an evolutionary process to ensure that you're reinvesting in the Culture by hiring for the future. But Southwest never fails to reassure me we have the right people in the right positions.
Happy 40th, Southwest!