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Paco Does Dallas (for a day)

pcerda
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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..........
17 Comments
joe-mdw-plane-d
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Paco, you don't sleep very much do you? Ding boy hoping adopt a pilot will be around in 6 years for my 5 year old to use! Joe
joe-mdw-plane-d
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Looks a little harsh! Brian add a 🙂 so Paco knows I am kidding please! No messages to display. Stay tuned for new messages. Ding! boy Joe
Eric2
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Despite the lack of sleep, it sounds like you enjoyed your visit to the Lone Star State. I never knew what the Adopt a Pilot Program is until now - it sounds really cool!
Phil_Willman
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Thanks for the play-by-play Jedi! Wow, what a whirlwind trip.... What I want to know is, how hard did you crash after that swing shift you worked back in PRC? And Eric, yep, Adopt-a-Pilot is pretty cool! If you haven't already found it, we have some good info on southwest.com - click here for details. And, check out the Adopt-a-Pilot blog link over in the Link Luv area.
Cygnus
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The kids from that one school probably never heard of the Tuskeegee Airmen. I hope they have by now! Beach volleyball on the parking lot? Digging out those spikes must be a bear, or SWA HQ has an all-sand parking lot! :D Great story, Paco, and glad you got to meet Captain Ray!
Cygnus
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I just looked at the AAP blog; didn't even know about it! There's a link on the right side of this page. Maybe some of us can head on over there and give it some LUV with some comments; there are too many 0's! 😞
pcerda
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Ding Boy, Actually I usually get a decent amount of sleep....but it's from somewhere between 3AM and 5AM until the early afternoon. Phil, I crashed and BURNED pretty hard! I got 2 hours of sleep when I got back home and then went back to work. Paul, SWA HQ's volleyball court is completely sand! Digging spikes out would pretty much bite! Jedi Blog Master
Artie
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OK, now I'm really jealous. Y'all get to work for a sweet company AND go to fun parties?! Tell me again why I'm not signing my emails with "Proud Southwest Employee"?? :) Sounds like you had a blast! Just one more question: your profile says you were hired in November 2007? You threw me for a big loop there until I figured out that yes, we ARE still in 2007 and no, November has not passed me by just quite yet! I had to confirm that with several people before my equilibrium returned! (Might want to fix that :) cheers, artie
Leah4
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That sounds like fun! I want to do that. I've seen the HDQ before when I was in DAL for both of my FA interviews last year. I didn't get to take a tour, but I saw lots of pictures, etc., on the walls. 🙂
blusk
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Paul T Yes the volleyball court is all sand, but it is in an island of grass surrounded by the parking lot. Also keep in mind that it is used during lunch hours not work hours. Blog Boy
Cygnus
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BB, sorry if I implied that the court was being used at other times than lunch! I was just funnin' with the idea of volleyball on asphalt. Of course, when I was in high school, a bunch of us played Ultimate Frisbee just before our last class. If we didn't wander into A.P. European History with grass or mud stains on our pants, it didn't count! 😄
pcerda
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Artie, Yes, I goofed. I think it was mentioned in my other blog about the SkyMall catalog. Somebody needs to really fix that, as it is wreaking havoc along the space-time continuum. IRS is sending the new models of the Tax Collector 3000 after me to collect taxes against wages I haven't even earned yet. "ITS NOT MY FAULT!" Jedi Blog Master
joe-mdw-plane-d
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In all of the confusion and his rush to protect the candycorn during his move, Brian simply forgot to fix it. Please throw a southwest bash when the new terminal at dtw is complete in 2008! Ding! boy Joe
FriendofBlogBoy
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Paco, I'm just CRUSHED...you came to town and didn't call me?? External Blog Boy 😞
Leah4
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I think we should all do PHX for a day, take a tour of the Reservations Center, & meet Paco! I know, though, he works late at night; maybe he could swap with someone just once! That'd be fun! 🙂
pcerda
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Leah, That would be great! Jedi Blog Master
Leah4
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Thanks, Paco! I really do wish we could. 🙂