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The "I Feel Like Crap" Rant!

January 11th, 2005 · No Comments

Well I made it home from Chicago. I feel miserable, though it’s not the kind of miserable that would keep me from moving around the house. It’s kind of an upper-respiratory/sore throat thing, I guess. My voice is all gravelly and it sort of hurts to talk.

I called the doctor this morning to see if he had any appointments available today. Nothing until tomorrow morning, unfortunately. The way I’m feeling right now wouldn’t normally cause me to believe that I required a trip to the doctor, but more like two or three days of taking it easy, drinking lots of water, and pounding the vitamin C and echinacea. The problem is that my company, being as short-staffed as they continually seem to be, is enforcing a rule that requires a phone call to your chief-pilot should you miss more than three days of work. The chief-pilot also may ask for a doctor’s note. This is an attempt to save the company money by not having to staff as many crewmembers, since they scare people into coming into work sick. That’s what’s happening, whether they admit that’s their intent or not.

What is this, grade school?

First, as an airline pilot I’m trusted with making decisions regarding the operation of my aircraft which could mean the difference between a normal flight and disaster. Not that I have a big head about having that much responsibility, but you’d figure that if they were willing to let me make decisions like that on a daily basis, they’d SURELY be willing to let ME decide when I’m unfit for duty.

Second, by requiring a doctor’s note for something as simple as a head cold (which have been known to last more than three days), the company is doing two things. They’re: 1) wasting my money and 2) wasting the doctor’s time. I now have to go into the doctor’s office, have him look at me for 5 minutes and say, “Yep. You’ve got a head cold. Go home and drink lots of fluids. That’ll be $15 for your co-pay.” Not only that, but the unnecessary doctor’s visit is then deducted from my yearly insurance maximum, and reduces the amount I’m able to use should a REAL problem occur.

All this because my company refuses (yes refuses; it’s been this way as long as I’ve been here) to staff appropriately and utilize their reserve crewmembers efficiently. Instead, they continually run thin and when people DO get sick, they’ve got to scramble to find coverage for that person’s trip. That often means paying someone time-and-a-half to work on their days off.

Which costs more? Staffing appropriately or paying people time-and-a-half when others are sick??

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