Jumping through hoops...

May 21, 2010 3 Comments A+ a-

For some Flight Attendants, attendance is a real issue. Yes, coming to work for a few of us can be difficult, so, the Company has set in place a point system with all sorts of rules and intricacies and levels of offenses. I am fortunate--my kids are grown, I don't have springtime allergies, and I don't get sick often.

At most jobs, if the plumber has to come to your house, you could take the morning off, and be back before lunch. Not Flight Attendants. If we need a couple hours off to deal with a situation, we (generally) have to take the whole day off.

And so it was earlier this month for me. I left my house for 30 minutes and came back to a minor disaster. The handle on a toilet on our third floor got stuck, and spilled over. I came home to water pouring out of the ceiling of the garage (first floor) ceiling lights and chandelier (second floor) and a soaked carpet on the third floor. As I walked in the door, the alarm system was screaming "Fire, fire, fire" and with all the water pouring out I thought the sprinkler system had gone off. (We don't have a sprinkler system!) And, the alarm system was going off because water had reached the sensors...

My SuperHero neighbor, Mark came over and helped get everything in order. He poked holes in the ceiling to allow the water to drain out, and more importantly, calmed a freaked out me down.

The insurance company sent out people to handle mold remediation. These are the folks who dry out your house. They cut holes in the ceilings to force warm air in...they have industrial sized blowers to dry your carpets, they have mats that are sealed in plastic that suck water out of your hardwood floors; they apply sporicide that smells like....sporicide. And, they have to come back to check on this process every single day--it took five days to dry out our house. With Norm being deployed in a faraway land, it was truly a Personal Emergency, necessitating me being home.

So, I called my Supervisor at work and requested the four Reserve days I was scheduled to work off. She gave me two. (Gee, thanks...) I called back on Day Two to request a couple more days off, and a different Supervisor gave them to me, no problem. (I was docked pay for the days I didn't work, by the way.) My original Supervisor (let's call her Mary) said, as we got off the phone that first day to make sure I document my personal emergency.

Look, Mary wouldn't know my face if she saw me. And, that's a good thing. I'm not a problem child: she has no attendance issues with me, I'm not late to work, and I do my job well. And, I understand that she has to do her job, and that a few bad apples abuse the system.

So, I sent Mary an e-mail that included copies of our claim with our insurance company--complete with claim number, and the insurance adjustor's name and phone number. I also sent her a link to my Facebook photo album which documented the work being done in our home (just the photos, I don't need a Supervisor on my FB page, thank you!). Attached to the e-mail, I sent two photos of the Washington Post newspaper: the first one shows the newspaper on one of the big dehumidifiers in my dining room; the second of a closer picture of the Post that clearly showed the date.

I thought I had over-proved my personal emergency.

Apparently not.

I received this e-mail back from her:

"Thank you for all of your information – I have documented your work history to show all of the information you provided. I am so sorry you are having to deal with all of this ~ it must be so horrible. On the upside ~ your home is beautiful. Anyway, after everything is done if you could provide some type of a bill to show some of the repairs it would help to substantiate the time I authorized for your absence...."

I felt as if I had been slapped in the face. And called a liar.

Norm says to play the game and give her what she wants. I think I've given enough. This may be a time I will call on my Union to help me out--it seems to be harassment. Not bad harassment, just the "screw with you" kind. And, it makes me angry because I have never done anything to warrant this kind of treatment.

Nine rooms were affected by water damage in our home. On top of dealing with furniture scrunched up together, carpeting pulled up, adjustors, estimators, plumbers, appointments, and our home being in a general disarray....I get to "substantiate the time authorized..."

Can you imagine if I had a flat tire on the way to work? How would one substantiate that?

So, what about you? Is it this way for you at your work? Have I missed something? I'd love to hear what you think about this and how it is for you.

I'll keep you posted.

______________________________________________________

John in MRY posted this comment, and I thought it was interesting:

As a flight attendant and former supervisor I can understand your frustration...but I can also guess "Mary" has probably been burned so many times she's probably not concerned about potentially hurting your feelings.

During my year as a supervisor I had the following things happen:

- A FA who was ONSB (Standby Reserve at the airport) got assigned a trip to PEK (Beijing) that would take her away during Xmas. She approached the crew desk (which we had back then) crying and told them she'd lost her passport. 45 minutes later I got called to the food court and a custodian handed me the missing passport. He was confused about why the FA would walk up to a trashcan, open her purse, pull out the passport and throw in away. (Later confirmed on videotape). Although she would have gotten a DNF (Did Not Fly) that was better than refusing a trip.

- Another FA, who I was actually friends with, called in to another to report that he had twisted his ankle, provided a doctor's note and got pulled off his trip. Imagine his surprise 2 days later when another supervisor read a newspaper article showing the rankings of the previous day's 10K and the FA had placed 3rd in the senior men's division (His brother-in-law was the doctor)

- A FA had taken her newly-wed husband on her SYD (Sidney, Australia) with her. The loads were fine until Qantas canceled a flight and put all of their people on our airline's flight. The agent came on to pull the husband out of First Class. The FA then went ENSL (enroute sick) due to ear problems.

Ultimately, the problem is that a few (really) bad apples spoil the bunch and the Supervisor's hands are tied in making absolutely sure things are legit. Its not much different than the way a lot of flight attendants treat passengers; think about it...how many times have you seen a flying partners ask a passenger if their iPhone is turned off and the passenger says "it is off" and the flying partner says "let me see that its turned off." Its because the FA knows from his/her experience that there's a chance the passenger is lying and wants to make sure the rules are being followed. (Same thing for the FAs who ask people to lift a blanket/shirt/magazine to show a fastened seat belt...even if the pax SAYS it's fastened.)

If it had been me in Mary's shoes I'd probably have taken everything you'd already sent as being sufficient since you don't have a record...but maybe that's why I couldn't hack it in that job.

IMHO, at the end of the day the relatively minor, albeit annoying, hoops you have to jump through in cases like this are worth not having to deal with a supervisor everyday like people in most jobs have to.

Hope it turns out ok...



Blondie
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John In MRY
AUTHOR
May 21, 2010 at 8:31 PM delete

As a flight attendant and former supervisor I can understand your frustration...but I can also guess"Mary" has probably been burned so many times she's probably not concerned about potentially hurting your feelings.

During my year as a supervisor I had the following things happen:

- A FA who was ONSB got assigned a trip to PEK that would take her away during Xmas. She approached the crew desk(which we had back then) crying and told them she'd lost her passport. 45 minutes later I got called to the food court and a custodian handed me the missing passport. He was confused about why the FA would walk up to a trashcan, open her purse, pull out the passport and throw in away. (Later confirmed on videotape). Although she would have gotten a DNF that was better than refusing a trip.

- Another FA, who I was actually friends with, called in to another to report that he had twisted his ankle, provided a doctor's note and got pulled off his trip. Imagine his surprise 2 days later when another supervisor read a newspaper article showing the rankings of the previous days 10K and the FA had placed 3rd in the senior men's division (His bro-in-law was the doctor)

- A FA had taken her newly-wed husband on her SYD with her. The loads were fine until Qantas cxld a flight and put all of their people on our airline's flight. The agent came on to pull the husband out of FC. The FA then went ENSL because due to ear problems.

Ultimately, the problem is that a few (really) bad apples spoil the bunch and the Supervisor's hands are tied in making absolutely sure things are legit. Its not much different than the way a lot of flight attendants treat passengers; think about it...how many times have you seen a flying partners ask a passenger if their iPhone is turned off and the passenger says "it is off" and the flying partner says "let me see that its turned off." Its because the FA knows from his/her experience that there's a chance the passenger is lying and wants to make sure the rules are being followed. (Same thing for the FAs who ask people to lift a blanket/shirt/magazine to show a fastened seat belt...even if the pax SAYS it's fastened.)

If it had been me in Mary's shoes I'd probably have taken everything you'd already sent as being sufficient since you don't have a record...but maybe that's why I couldn't hack it in that job.

IMHO, at the end of the day the relatively minor, albeit annoying, hoops you have to jump through in cases like this are worth not having to deal with a supervisor everyday like people in most jobs have to.

Hope it turns out ok...

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Lookin4acity
AUTHOR
May 22, 2010 at 1:37 PM delete

I know we don't work for the same airline but it sure sounds like we do. It is such a morale buster for the responsible,conscientious worker to be treated like a bad apple. The supervisors should be well aware of who the abusers are based on the company personale file and points accumulated. It must be easier for them to treat everyone with suspicion. I feel your frustration.

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Lenman
AUTHOR
May 23, 2010 at 1:03 PM delete

Unfortunately, you're not missing anything.

It's the CYA mentality that's permeated everywhere by employers because our society today has the attitude of 'if you can get away with it, then do it.' People who have done not-so-honest things before us have now moved the bar up a notch in this game. It only adds more frustration to the bureaucracy we all have to deal with in our respective careers.

I do see why people have the 'trust, but verify' attitude because I have to employ it myself - yet it has to be reasonable. In your case, it's ridiculous despite all the proof you provided to have to send more proof.

Hope the repairs on your house have everything coming out better than new!

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