This summer was hot, really hot. It was actually the hottest summer in Dallas EVER! That didn’t stop a collection of People from putting together one of the biggest barbecues ever for the DAL Maintenance & Engineering Department. In August, ten four-person Teams got together to see who would be the grill master. This was the first of what we hope will be an annual DAL M&E BBQ Throwdown. There was an official set of rules and guidelines that all entrants had to adhere to. Nearly 900 pounds of meat was grilled to feed more than 1,200 People in the M&E Department. Employee Teams competed in several categories: best ribs, best sausage, tastiest chicken, and most flavorful sauce. “Trash talking” started weeks before the event was set to occur. At the last meeting with all the Team Leaders, one gentleman stood up, took off his work gloves, threw them on the ground, and stomped on them like he was putting out a cigarette—all this was to show how badly he was going to devastate the other Teams. Well not really, but that’s what it felt like because the duel was on; a ten-way multifaceted duel, that is. The day before the competition, meat was distributed to all the Teams so that everyone could marinate and season if they felt so inclined. Also that day, Teams set up their own smokers, elaborate (or not so elaborate) grills, and all the comforts of an outdoor kitchen so that they could focus on the main event—cooking—the next morning. Although the stage was set the day before, the competition started earlier; for some, a lot earlier. The first Team arrived at midnight. Food was not required to be in for judging until 10:30 a.m. For those that can’t do that quick math, it is ten and a half hours of potential cook time. Right away, it was clear that these People were serious. Most of the rest of the Teams came in at varying times between 3:00 and 4:00 a.m., a time when I’m sure everyone else is still deep asleep. By the time most People got to work, the smell was intoxicating. It has never occurred to me to eat a slab of ribs for breakfast, but that morning, those ribs were calling my name. As the sun rose, most were well past the halfway point in the cooking process. As 10:30 a.m. came around, the food was ready for the judges. The judges were Herb, Ginger Hardage (SVP Culture & Communication), Ron Ricks (EVP and Chief Legal & Regulatory Officer), Mike Van de Ven (EVP & Chief Operating Officer), and Daryl Krause (SVP Procurement). It was an all-star group to say the least. Brian Hirshman (SVP Technical Operations) was the emcee of the event. I have to say he did a fantastic job. He was especially adept at keeping the unruly judges in line and on task. The judges sampled the ten plates of ribs, chicken, sausage, and sauce. Needless to say, some of them were slowing down after five or six plates of the best BBQ ever! The votes were cast and tallied up. We had our winners! The Best Ribs were cooked by the “Hey Grillfriends” Team, comprised of Yorda Aguilar, Janice Staples, Nelda Sharp, and Shirley Riser. Awards for both the Best Chicken and Most Flavorful Sauce went to the “DMX Midnight Vaqueros” Team: Rick Brewer, Andy Rubeman, Sam Hill, and Frank Martinez. The Best Sausage was submitted by the “Whiskey Smokers,” a Team made up of Floyd Stonum, Greg Pogue, Jonathon Guevara, and Lee Chappa. Our overall champion, the “masters of the flames,” was the team named “Coy’s Q,” comprised of members Coy Smith and Terence Jackson. Two members of Coy’s Q had to drop out at the last minute, but that clearly didn’t stop the two of them from taking the cake, or the crown, as it were. This was a wonderful event, and I believe everyone involved from the cooks to the crowd had a great time. So here’s to the first M&E Throwdown, and hopefully the beginning of a tradition that will last for a long time.
... View more
Like any day this month, I drove into work still wiping the sleep out of my eyes. As I got out of the car I smelled one of the best aromas you can possibly dream of and realized this day would be unlike any other day at the Southwest Airlines Dallas Maintenance Hangar. Our Maintenance Employees had already begun cooking for their Annual Turkey Fry. I had no idea where they were set up; all I had to do was follow my nose. “We do this every year to provide an early Thanksgiving meal to our Fellow Coworkers and Friends,” said Dallas Structural Mechanic Jonathan Guevara. “It’s a pleasure to do this for the Company and for our Maintenance Employees.” As one of the main cooks and mastermind behind the day’s festivities, Jonathan gave me a full rundown of what all goes into preparing for their Annual Turkey Fry. To make sure they had enough food to go around, a total of 90 birds had been cleaned and trimmed the day before. With a very strict schedule of how long each bird takes to cook, Jonathan arrived to work at 4:30 a.m. to fire up the fryers so that the oil would be hot and ready for the first round of frying! It was definitely a sight to be seen. They had nine fryers going all at once. Each bird needed a cook time of four minutes per pound. With an average weight of 12 lbs per turkey, that means each one would take on average an hour to cook, give or take a few minutes. The guys had a genius system to keep all the turkeys on schedule; they wanted to avoid taking them out before they were properly cooked all the way through, ultimately avoiding the chance of burning them. One Employee acted as the designated time keeper. He had his iPhone setup with specific timers and labeled each alarm with the fryer it pertained to. I realized this was a pretty serious piece to the turkey frying puzzle, because the guys would find themselves in the middle of a very in-depth conversation on their opinions about the Cowboys, and then all of a sudden an alarm would go off. The alarm sounded like they were based at a nuclear missile silo and the president had just pushed the button. It was great to see the entire group of guys spring to action. Two of them would run over to snatch the bird from the boiling grease; another couple of guys would begin preparing the next turkey. Every now-and-then the guys would throw some french fries and chicken wings into one of the fryers after a turkey had just been removed. This was a treat for those cooking, and also helped them keep their paws off the main prize, those succulent fried flightless birds. Overall, they cooked 90 turkeys and fed around a thousand Employees throughout the entire day, including the Graveyard shift. The Maintenance Department provided the turkeys for the Annual Fry and the Employees brought all the fixings. Trust me, there was a little bit of everything, and it was all so good! So, the smell was out of this world but it couldn’t hold a candle to the taste. These guys really put a lot of time and effort into this; and it showed. When you are cooking for this many people there has to be a battle plan. They came at this like generals and the only casualties were the turkeys, but they were so good they deserved a twenty-one gun salute. Now all the fryers have been cleaned and stored; but I can’t get it all out of my head. I guess I’ll just have to wait until next year for another helping!
... View more
I had a great time helping the BUF Station celebrate this important milestone. So many great People work there and were more than willing to give their time to make sure the event went off without a hitch. Thank you to everyone that helped out, and congratulations to All on 10 years in BUF!! Southwest Airlines is very fortunate to have such a fantastic Crew in BUF.
... View more
To celebrate St. Patrick's Day, three Leprechauns are roaming the Southwest system. Here is a message from one of them: Happy St Patrick ’s Day. Today I am traveling on Southwest Airlines to visit my mother. My father was a Leprechaun, like me, but my mother was in the WNBA. My mother is 7 feet tall and my father measures 2 feet, which leaves me almost in the middle at 5’10. My parents met when my mother was in Ireland playing a basketball tournament and her shoes were lost with the rest of her luggage…she wasn’t flying Southwest obviously. She was sad, and started crying on an old hollowed out tree stump. Little did she know, that was my father’s home. He quickly popped out, measured her feet, and made her the finest basketball shoes ever made. Michael Jordan pleaded with my father to make him a pair, but he said she was the only one he wanted to cobble for, for the rest of his life; or at least the rest of hers, since the average lifespan of a Leprechaun is 200 years. As for me, I am just ready to be home, which is oddly enough not in Ireland anymore. My parents moved here to follow my mother’s career. So if you see me traveling today it could be worth your while. Until then, Sláinte!! Clint (R) and fellow Leprechaun Jason Penland (L) below:
... View more