In two weeks, on October 17, my 60th birthday, I will turn in my Employee ID badge and retire. Now don’t misunderstand, I will always be Southwest Airlines, and Southwest Airlines will always be a big part of me and my Heart. I’ll just have a lot of great memories and a Retiree card. (And TSA PreCheck. BEST. THING. EVER.)
I’ve had so much fun at Southwest. I started my Southwest career in Revenue Management in 1990, then moved to Schedule Planning (now Network Planning) in 1993—this has been the ride of a lifetime. Being a part of the Culture of our awesome airline was a bonus I never could have expected. We worked hard to “Keep the Faith” but the payoff was that we had soooo much fun serving our Cohearts (Fellow Employees to those of you that don’t “speak Southwest!”).
I’ve worked under some amazing Leaders, combining the route networks of Morris Air and AirTran into the network we’ve worked so hard to build. We recovered from Boeing strikes, Hurricane Katrina, and even made it through 9/11. Not many people get to be a part of that kind of airline scheduling history, but I got to be in the middle of it all. We have built an AMAZING airline network for one reason: to make flying easier and more fun, for all of our Customers! Just look at our route network now! It’s incredible—just like all of you.
Perhaps the most unexpected gift I received here has been being able to write for this blog. When President Emeritus Colleen Barrett first reached out to a few of us in 2006, her direction was clear: this is on your own time, and you’ve got to speak in your own voice and remember that we are an airline of People, first and foremost.
First as “NUTS!”, then here on The Southwest Airlines Community, I’ve been privileged to share schedule openings, new city announcements, stories about my son The Officer, colonoscopies, the transition to Altea, days of inventory (I’m still in therapy from that one!), the solar eclipse last year, and even the passing of my sweet Mom. I’m the last of the original bloggers but that’s not as important as what all the Southwest bloggers did, which was create a fresh, personal, and innovative method of communicating with our Customers and our Cohearts. But it was all really about bringing some from-the-Heart humanity to the already People-centric Southwest story. We are an awesome Company of incredible People, and that story of Southwest-style humanity needed to be shared. I loved sharing parts of my life, and our Company stories, with you guys. Thanks for being part of my extended family!
Y’all have always been so responsive and it just would not have been right not to respond in kind, and I hope you know I heard you all and conveyed your comments and then responded as fully as I could. I’ve loved responding to your comments. Together, we found a way to turn an essay into a dialogue and a community! You will all be in my heart forever for your support and for how you all live the Southwest Way. I bless all of you, and our Company, forever.
This Company has such a bright future ahead because of our Employees and our Customers. The Leaders and the People of Southwest Airlines will keep this Company flying high, but our jet-fuel—our very reason for being here—will always be our Customers! I won’t miss you because I’ll be traveling more than ever so you will see me around (I’ll probably be the big guy in the middle seat!). Keep being real. Keep taking care of yourselves and of others. Keep communicating with us, good, bad, or whatever! And never stop KEEPING THE FAITH!
I’ll be busy, never fear. Between spoiling the grandkids, volunteering, and writing, I’ll have more than enough to do! Look for me online and I’ll certainly be following the continuing story of Southwest Airlines in the coming years. I’ll see you all on the ground and in the air. Blue skies, miles of smiles, and LUV forever to all of you!