So, I'm heading out to Dallas for the Nuts About Southwest Birthday Party, and it is my first time to visit Headquarters. Here is a running account of my trip. I would have loved to post some pictures up, however, they aren't developed yet....maybe I'll get a Photobook or something going on as soon as I can.
04/26 1:00 a.m. (Pacific Time)--Leave my post at Phoenix Reservations to catch the 6:40 a.m. flight. Start packing.
4:30 a.m.--I head up to the gate to grab some "Fourbucks" and some Wendy's (a.k.a. breakfast of champions). While I'm in line at Fourbucks, I'm talking to one of our wonderful Pilots, trying to figure out if our own Captain Ray Stark was possibly flying my plane. There's a ton of Phoenix-based Pilots, so he's got no idea since he's running a totally different route.
5:30ish a.m.-- I'm just hanging out at the gate, when a Captain flashes his badge at me and asks, "You looking for me?" Lo and behold, it's our own Nuts About Southwest superblogger extraordinaire Captain Ray Stark! After shooting the breeze for a bit, he heads to his flight's gate. Boarding commences for my flight.
6:40a.m.--Takeoff time! As we fly over the mountains and desert, I'm starting to doze off, but I'm coherent enough to snap a few photos over Arizona and New Mexico. At this time in the morning, I'm usually going to bed.
11:40a.m. (Central Time)--Dallas! So, after the shuttle drops me off after rolling past the people playing beach volleyball in the parking lot during their lunch hour, I drop my bags off in the Public Relations Department, eat some lunch with some of our wonderful PR folks, and then I head up to the cafeteria for, you guessed it, more coffee. By this time, I'm fairly delirious. I walk the halls totally, completely, and utterly lost, which is a good thing. As I see all the memorabilia on the wall, I can't help but think how special this Company is, compared to other corporations. Hand-drawn sketches of Herb and Colleen, letters from children, a velvet painting of Herb in an Elvis suit, and other things "Southwest" adorn the hallowed hallways of Headquarters (say that three times fast!). I wish I would have gotten more pictures of the hallways! I stroll into the Executive Office, and I'm greeted by an enthusiastic receptionist. I inform her that I just want to get a picture of Herb and/or Colleen's nameplate on their doors. Her response was "Honey, they don't HAVE nameplates! You know how informal we are here!" I about died laughing, and I realize that, while everyone has an ego of sort (I mean, *I* would have a HUGE nameplate on my door!), our Leaders don't need that kind of recognition. The fact of the matter is, Colleen is a sweetheart, Gary cares about what happens, and Herb is, well, Herb.
2:00p.m.--Time for the christening of a new plane! There is a huge ceremony for the new Adopt-A-Pilot Program plane at the adjacent Dallas Maintenance Base. A ton of people pour out of Headquarters to go to the ceremony. It's kind of warm, but a cool breeze blows over the hangar. However, when it stops, it gets warmer. The crowd gathers around the podium as the stars of the show begin to speak. Gary is up there; Colleen is up there; and a few Pilots and young kids are up there. As the speakers begin, I can't help but realize how important this program is to the youth of our generation and generations to come. For those that don't know about this program, it started with about 50 Pilots that got "adopted" by a fifth-grade class, and it has grown to over 600 Pilots and 30,000 students each year. The Pilots come into the 'classroom, teach math, science, and geography, delivered in an aviation context, and maybe even take a flight!
One thing that stuck out the most to me was a story about an inner city school whose kids didn't realize that a person of color could actually BE a pilot. Being a product of the inner city, I would have loved to seen something like this in our middle school. What a fantastic program!
3:00 p.m. to about 4:30 p.m.--I stroll around Headquarters some more and talk to a lot of nice people.
4:30 p.m.--Party time!!!! I meet ALL the incredible bloggers! What a fantastic party...after a few fajitas and beers, I'm doing pretty well, thank you very much!
Somewhere about 7:30 p.m to about 11:30 p.m.--I go out for a night on the town in downtown Dallas. Very cool place, and I get some dinner and go to a concert.
At about 12:30 a.m.--I crash and burn; out like a light bulb; stick a fork in Paco, and I am done....I'm toast.
5:30 a.m. (Central Time) to 10:35 a.m. (Pacific Time)--I get up, get ready, and get hyped-up to head back home. It was a wonderfully crazy evening, and I'm ready to get home and finish out the day. I get my boarding pass, and I'm gone. After a quick stop in Austin, I head up to an exit row seat to stretch my legs out, and start chit-chatting with the person who sits in front of me. It turns out that he builds music studios. Tech talk ensues, and we discuss mixing boards, condenser microphones, and all sorts of other random musical footnotes for the next two hours. There's no sleep for me when I get home due to the fact that I have to work from 4:30 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. that night, but I'm just glad to be home.
Jedi Blog Master signing off..........