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Not Quite One in a Million

mhennes
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I'd like to believe that Southwest is known for not treating People, either Customers or Employees, like numbers. It wouldn't fit with our Corporate Culture. Yeah, numbers are a big part of any business--and we have a lot of departments that crunch, compile, chart, and report numbers. Numbers measure. Numbers represent progress and gains and losses. Numbers project and forecast and summarize. But a number can't describe a person--can it? In a way it can.  Do you remember what it was like to go from being a freshman to a sophomore in high school? This little passage brought you up a step from the bottom rung of the ladder, and it was really huge.  It didn't make you better, or that much different. But it did give you that "I've been around a little--I've seen some stuff" swagger to your step. Out here at the airport, we don't wear our "class" years on the sleeves of our jackets, but boy, do we pay attention to numbers. Southwest is a Company of over 32,000 people, each of whom has their own Employee number, and the numbers are assigned in order of your hire date. The older (in terms of seniority, of course) the Employee, the lower the Employee number.  I was in a class at the University for People where we had to form a line, as fast as we could, in order of seniority--without talking. Everyone immediately grabbed their ID badges and compared numbers to see how quickly we could sort through 28 people with a range of service from 18 years to 18 months. I was thrilled to see that one of my classmates from Las Vegas had a number only two off of mine--it turned out we were hired within a day of each other. But he was "senior" to me, and he kidded me about it for the rest of the week. It was a terrific example of how that little number mattered. I've seen our numbers grow by the thousands, and the tens of thousands. I've heard the change of inflection in the question:  "Your Employee number starts with 20,000?" Once that meant I was new. Now it seems like permission to question my memory and my ability to digest solids. As each new addition to the Southwest family comes aboard and gets his or her "number," he or she passes a little something up the line to those of us here to welcome them.  It serves as a reminder that we're fortunate to be here leading new People, doing work that we like, for a Company that sees us as more than just a number. I don't know how long it will be until the New Hires have six digits, and I wonder how my "20,000" will look to them.  It won't take long for even these Employees to look at their "low" numbers with pride and accomplishment. You can count on that.
29 Comments
jim
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As a member of an organization who assigns membership numbers by year, then by sequence (my number is 1414 - I was the 14th company to join in the 14th year of the organization's existence), I understand exactly what you are talking about here - lower numbers have status. And I'm a numbers geek too. So: Who has the lowest active number? (I'm guessing Herb.) Who has number 100? Number 737? 1,000? 5,000? 10,000?, 12,345?, 20,000?, 25,000? What number would a new Employee get? How many of the first 1,231 have an employee number that matches their birthdate? Are 'unlucky' numbers like 666 and 1313 skipped? What is Brian's employee number? And yes, when the 100,000th Employee meets you and sees your 20,000-something Employee number, you know he or she will be extremely impressed - you will have been working for SWA for about 25 years by then!
Cygnus
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Can we guess Brian's number like on The Price is Right's Clock Game, with him responding "higher" or "lower"? 😄
hcarboy
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Mary's post got me thinking about when I first started flying and the subject of my emp. # came up. It was June 29, 1984 and I was "signing in" at my first overnight. I had just completed my very first day of flying and was anxious to take off my heels and put my feet in a bucket of ice!!! My other two crewmembers AND both pilots were shocked when they saw my emp. #. My number is in the low 7000's and they could NOT believe employee numbers had gotten that large. Needless to say, they found it quite amusing. I was so proud to have my new job, so I just laughed right along with them. In early 1987 we began hiring "zip codes". Wow, someone had a 5 digit employee number. We are now well into the 80,000's and my number is no longer laughed at. People are still shocked when they see it, just in a different way. And I've come to realize one thing. There is always someone senior to you and always someone junior to you. Unless of course you are our most senior F/A (Sandra) or the lowest one on the totem pole! And how fortunate we are to all work for the best airline in the world!! I proudly tell folks I've been here 23 years and hope to have many more wonderful years working and laughing and having a great time!!
pthompson
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My dad, a retired 21-year Employee, had a 4-digit number in the low 1,000s. Just over 60,000 were hired between us! 🙂
drew
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As a Customer and a fan, I love finding Employees with less-than-ZIP-code Employee numbers (Hi Carole!). I don't mean to make them sound like senior citizens, but I enjoy hearing their Southwest stories.
Robin9
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I have worked for SWA for a little over 11 years and I am a 34thousand something or the other. 🐵 At ORC we just hired some brilliant new Reservations Agents in March and they are 83thousand somethings. The funny thing is, most of us can guess pretty close to the year at least when someone new was hired. You are a 54 something, aah....that means you have been here about 7 years. It is just a number, but the memories it holds are priceless. Robin Sell Oklahoma City Reservations Center
cadams
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Okay Drew, I take the bait! I may be off a number or two, but I think Sandra's number as the number one flight attendant is 182. I remember saying on the PA, "And on behalf of SWA and over 4,000 employees we welcome you to ______." I liked our litle group that was all in one building with everyone knowing each other. But, I would have missed knowing a lot of wonderful people if we had not grown - Mary being one of them. I was also hired in 1984 - one month before my friend Linda Kirby - which makes me #6888. I'm grateful I have an easy number to remember, being a Senior Citizen and all! I can't wait until I get my first Social Security check! Carole
blusk
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Hi Jim and Paul T. Okay my Employee number is the same as the zip code for Eatonton, Georgia. (I'm in the 30,000s.) We would need Bob Barker to play higher/lower. Herb does have the lowest number of active Employees, and naturally, he is Number 1. Number 100 isn't in the online Employee records, but it would have been assigned to an Original Employee. A retired Captain holds 737--fittingly enough. I couldn't find a 666 or a 1313, although one of our original Mechanics holds number 13. Blog Boy
joe-mdw-plane-d
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31024 :-P Ding! boy's parents are coming here in september! Finally got them on $50 fares from phx. Joe
blusk
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Yeah, Ding! boy, zip code 31024 is at the base of the Eatonton, Willard, Imperial triangle. At least you aren't flying Mom and Dad to Motown in February! Blog Boy
FriendofBlogBoy
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OK, now I have a second goal beyond just getting hired at Southwest. I want to shoot for a really cool employee number like 88888!! Kim 🙂
joe-mdw-plane-d
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Not a problem Brian. My parents had lived here for 50+ years before retiring to Arid-zona. Also, your schedule isn't open thru feb yet. ;-P Save $1.00 when you buy two (2) 64 oz cartons of Tropicana orange juice. Ding! boy Joe
Pat2
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Today I was treated like a number. As a veteran of many Southwest flights (and you do not even serve my city--I have to drive a ways to fly you guys), I am accustomed to a can-do attitude. I suppose all good things must come to an end. I am en route back home after a business trip, and I saw there was a connecting flight that I could just make if I hustled. I knew from checking the night before that this flight was oversold, but I was already at the connecting airport and I thought I would give it a shot. It would save me from a 3 hour layover. I got to the gate about 5 minutes before it closed, and sure enough there were two folks who checked in but were no shows. I asked to the last seat, was willing to pay, but was told they would wait for the last two. Fair enough. I spoke a minute later to the guy at the door to see if I could slip in. He said it was up to the gate agent. I went back over to the gate agent, who told me the flight was closed, even though there were two empty seats. So know I am waiting on my scheduled flight, and thinking that you guys are just like everybody else. For me, that is a real shame.
pcerda
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I'm in the 82,000's. Luckily, when Travel Agents ask for my sign I can tell them it's Double Zero..........Double O Paco. That's right, baby...Double O Paco. Jedi Blog Master
Jeramy_Brian1
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I was hired in 2002 and my employee # is 72261 Fight On! -Trojan Blog Boy
Robin9
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Employee Numbers as ZIP Codes. What an inspired idea Blog Boy. My employee number is assigned to ENGLEWOOD, FL. I wish I was there. Do you think we can talk HDQ into moving the whole Company there? Robin Okalahoma City Reservation Center
FriendofBlogBoy
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I was visiting with one of the engineers at Southwest the other day. It turns out that his Employee number is 3.14159265358979323846264338327950288419716939937510. Kim :) External Blog Boy
blusk
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Hey EBB, You must have been chatting with Pye Oursquare. Blog Boy
FriendofBlogBoy
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Yeah, that was his name! I couldn't remember it, but I knew it was something foreign-sounding, like he was born in Ohio or somewhere... Actually, he said that his Employee number was longer, but he just rounded it up. EBB 🙂
Leah4
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Does anybody have the number 3.14.....& so on? 🙂 Gee, I LUV Math! Ha, ha! Just kidding! What about 6181971? 🙂
Leah4
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Ooops! I didn't see Kim's post about Pi until I typed mine! Ha! Sorry! Hey, Kim, long time, no email! How's it going?
joe-mdw-plane-d
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Leah's birthday? June 18th 1971. Call and ask for Jenny! Ding! boy Joe
FriendofBlogBoy
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Leah, Howdy! Yes, you missed my post, which predated yours by about 30 hours! I guess you Okies aren't always SOONER in everything, are ya? Sorry for the lack of e-mails, but I've felt so snubbed since I read that you weren't going to come through Dallas that I threw my laptop out the window and let a big truck drive over it. So, I no longer have access to e-mails or the Internet. It makes it especially hard to blog now, as I have to psychically transmit my witty remarks directly into Brian's mind. It works most days, but if the humidity level or winds in Dallas are especially high, the messages sometimes get garbled. So if some of my posts look out of whack, itmighthavebeenasuddengustofwind. Hugs, Kim EBB 🙂
Leah4
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Howdy, Kim! Yes, I guess I'm not always SOONER! Ha, ha. I wonder if the Pilot & Captain would make a special stop for me in DAL when I go to & from MCO next month. Maybe I should ask! Surely they would, especially when I'm wearing one of my seven (yes, seven) SWA shirts, & when I tell them I'm going to work for them, even though I don't know when. Perhaps they'll need to reroute & take the scenic route with a stop there. Gotta help a sista out, you know! SWA is So Wonderfully Awesome! That's what I'm talking about! 🙂 Peace out, Girl/Boy Scout! Hugs, Leah
joe-mdw-plane-d
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Alrighty then. No Tommy Tutone fans here. :-( We are unable to process your request. Please don't try it again. Ding! boy Joe
Leah4
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Ha, ha, Ding! boy Joe. No, I'm sorry to say that's not my birthday. Good guess, though! It is next month, but I think it'd be neat to have 6181971as my number, since it's SWA's birthday! 🙂 Now, if SWA began service 7261976 (when I was born), then we'd share it. I sure do LUV Pi!! Ha, ha-cherry pie, that is. SWA LUV to all, & to all a good flight!
FriendofBlogBoy
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Ahh - ha... Now I've figured it out, Joe. Leah's birthday is June 56th. They kept telling me that new math would come in handy some day. Kim A fellow LUVer of Cherry 3.14159 🙂
joe-mdw-plane-d
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Ah Kim I see your point. Leah is four months older than sister of ding boy. Close cover before striking match. Open cover after. Ding! boy Joe
Leah4
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Mary, I went throught STL July 20 & 22 going to & from MCO. I was hoping I'd get to meet you & get your autograph, but heard you were on vacation!