Highway 6 Runs Both Ways: So why do miserable employees stay?

Editor's Viewpoint

Highway 6 Runs Both Ways

So why do miserable employees stay?

By Joe Escobar

August 2004

Joe EscobarTexas A&M University is steeped in traditions. The Aggies have a saying for those students that don't like their traditions ' 'Highway 6 runs both ways.' In other words, the same road that takes you to A&M can take you right back out. But can the same saying apply to aircraft maintenance?

I used to work with a mechanic that was always negative. He never had a positive thing to say. He would moan about the job he was assigned, complain about co-workers, and gripe about low pay. During lunch, he would even complain about the 'crappy leftovers' he had to eat. And you didn't dare get him started on a conversation about upper management. He seemed to hate his situation so much, I finally had to ask him, 'If you are so miserable, why don't you just leave?' He answered, 'I have nowhere to go ' I am stuck here.' He had been working for the company for many years, and was making pretty good money. In addition, there were not any other good paying jobs in the area. Taking another job would mean starting all over at the bottom of the career ladder with starting pay lower than he was making at the time, and he couldn't afford a pay cut. Staying at his pay scale meant he would have to relocate. But his wife and kids didn't want to move. So he stayed. And he was miserable. And he made many of us miserable in the meantime.

I hear many of the same complaints about our profession time and time again. The same topics tend to keep on popping up ' low pay, lack of respect, high responsibility, poor working conditions. Granted, most of those points are true. Mechanics often work in harsh conditions. There is indeed a high level of responsibility on our shoulders ' the airworthiness of the aircraft we work on. Did we expect anything less when we signed on? And maybe we don't get the respect or recognition that pilots do, but do we have a need to be prima donnas, or are we content to do the job the best we can, ensuring the safety of the flying public?

And then there is the money. This month's issue contains the results of our 2004 salary survey. If anyone came into aircraft maintenance to get rich, and not because they enjoyed the profession, then they made a mistake. That's not to say that people can't be successful in this industry. But it won't likely happen by just moaning and complaining all the time. It is more likely to happen through a positive attitude and hard work. I have seen many successful mechanics. They enjoy their jobs, take the time to mentor others, and always strive to keep learning and be the best. Success follows naturally.

Instead, of just complaining, if we focus on making positive changes and getting involved in industry groups and associations, then we can make a change. But if someone is truly miserable in this profession maybe they should take the highway, or the ramp, right on out. It's about attitude. Is your's helping or hurting you?

Thanks for reading!