Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I Owned a $36 Million Jet Once

…for almost an hour.

I used to be a mechanic at a place called Falcon Jet. We customized big expensive luxury business jets. Mechanics are paid by the hour.

I worked on the Falcon 900 line which at the time was the biggest and best Falcon Jet available.

Pretty huh?

Check out the inside...

At one point we were way behind schedule and we were working 12 hours a day 7 days a week. We got time and half over 40 hours and double time on Sunday. So with all the overtime my 40 hour base pay was just over a third of my total pay on that schedule!

So along comes pay day and I have a check for 80 hours of straight time. So I called payroll. I talked to this snotty woman who clearly could not care less that my check was roughly 1/3 of what it should be. She told me that the shortage would be added to the next check. Still, I was insistent that it was payday and I would like my pay now and not in another two weeks. She gave me a snotty song and dance about how the computer can only cut checks on scheduled days and she can not cut another check until next pay day. After a little more debate on my part she told me if I did not like it she heard that McDonalds was hiring and hung up on me.

Grrrrrrr. Boy was I ticked but bureaucrats hold all the power so I grumbled a lot but that was about all I could do.

So the next payday rolls around and this time I should have had a huge check with base pay plus a whole month of overtime. It was straight base pay again! So I called payroll again and got the same snotty lady which immediately made me snotty (which never helps when dealing with petty bureaucrats- live and learn) and keeping the long story short her answer again was “Tough- the computer will not cut a check today even if I wanted to so you’ll get it next payday- end of story{click}”.

Oooooo, I am seriously angry now. I know people can see blood vessels pumping on my forehead as I am sitting in the cafeteria ranting! My buddy tells me I should get a mechanics lien. A what? He explains to me he used to work at a garage and if someone does not pay their repair bill you can put a lien on their car and even repossess it! It was a quick and easy process at the county courthouse and since I was not getting paid I should put a lien on one of the jets!

I still had 45 minutes of lunch left so I headed for the court house!

I paid $4.50 and put a lien on a 36 million dollar jet that I had been working on for the last month. I also knew the customer was coming to pick it up in a few days and we had really been busting butt to have it ready on time. That plane would put the most pressure on them! Bwuh-ha-ha-ha!

So I come back from lunch with a neat little packet of paper that explained I had the right to repossess and auction off the vehicle but I could only keep what I was owed and any proceeds above what I was owed net repo and auction costs must be returned to the original owner. Down at the bottom in bold print it said “For any assistance in repossessing the vehicle call the sheriffs department at 555-1212 ext 1234.”

I got back just as everyone was getting back to work after lunch. I went to the bay “my” plane was in and explained to the lead man (my boss) what I had done and that he needed to get everyone off of “my” plane. Since he had heard me whining about my check for weeks he knew why so he said, “Are you sure you want to do this?”
I tapped that paper work where it told you how to call the sheriff and I said and with a big grin on my face “Bruce, don’t make me call the sheriff!”

Bruce laughed and said “Okay tiger!” and started getting everyone off my plane, he closed and locked the door and handed me the keys with a big ol grin on his face. Then he went and called the plant production manager.

Now, I knew this scheme was going to get some attention- I mean that was the goal after all, I figured that since we were already behind schedule and the customer was going to be there soon the account manager or the salesmen would throw a fit and get me my paycheck before long.

I was right but it turned out I was way too right! Within 10 minutes there were upper-level managers hovering around the dock. These were people I had never even heard of before since they never got around the “dirty people”! This had already gone much higher much faster than I ever thought it would! A couple of theses guys in suits were screaming at me about the schedule! Even though I had an awful feeling in the pit of my stomach I was mad and I stuck to my guns and just kept saying, “Cut me a check and everyone can get back to work.” Finally I said to one guy who was screaming at me, “Hey! I am working in good faith here by not taking the plane out of the hanger, keep screaming at me and I’ll tow the damn thing out of here!” That shut him up!

Then the CEO shows up! Oy Vay! This was NOT what I had in mind when I started this adventure! Until now I had only seen this guy’s picture in the lobby and now he is asking me questions in an unfriendly manner! Not good, not good!

I explained to him what was going on and I could see in his face that he was getting extremely angry and I was thinking oh man- you did it now Rob you have seriously ticked off the head honcho!
He growled, “Come with me.”
Oh crap! We started heading to the front offices where none of us mechanics ever went. I thought “Uh, oh, we are going to HR, I am fired now! Oh well, ya gambled and lost Rob!”

However, we walked right past HR and went in to the accounting area. The CEO says in a loud voice, “Who does payroll here?”
I recognized the snotty voice when she said “I do sir”

The CEO and I walk over to her desk and he asks her in a pleasant tone was she aware that the company owned me a month of overtime pay?
In her snotty tone she replied, “Why yes sir, I heard what he did and there was no need for him to get a lien, I had already explained to him that it would be on his next check since the computer…”
Interrupting her, in a low, controlled but icy tone he asked her, “Do you need help with this job? Is it too much for you?”
“Uh no sir, it’s not too much, I …”
He cut her off again and now he is shouting! “Well obviously it IS too much for you since you have not been able to pay this man for a MONTH now! I agree though it seems pretty simple to me, they turn in their hours and you write them a check. Since he has been coming to work and he has not been getting paid then CLEARLY I do need to hire someone who can handle this job.”, silent lingering pause, “I want this man paid right here, right now or I will find someone who can. Do I need to find someone else?”
“No sir.”, she said without a trace of snottiness in her voice.
He turns to me and says, “Will you trust me for now and let me have the keys so people can get back to work?”
Handing him the keys, “Here you go, thank you sir.”
He said, “If you don’t get a check in 15 minutes let me know.” and walked out

Whew! I had thought I was a goner for sure! I wish I was big enough a person that I did not enjoy watching snotty payroll lady getting raked over the coals but I can admit it, I am not that big because I. Loved. It!!

And hey, what do you know? The system could cut a check after all! Amazing huh?


SuperCoolMom said...

Woohoo, Let's hear it for The System working right for once (with a bit of assistance)! Go Rob!

Crazymamaof6 said...

HOLY CRAP! bold move! and WOW! glad it worked out. that ROCKS! that is amazing! and seriously the crap you have done in your live amazes me! that takes some major cajones!

Rob said...

Wow! You two made it through that long ass story? I'm impressed!

SuperCoolMom- I was shocked at a CEO who seemed to actually *care* that one of his people was getting the shaft! He was *mad* at that lady for not paying me!

CrazyMomma- Awwww, shucks! After that adventure the “guys” would razz me by trying to stick magnets to my crotch in the hanger since I seemed to have steel balls. (Guy humor)

Crazymamaof6 said...

all i can say is WOW! bold!smart! SMOOTH!

tammy said...

LOVE IT! Way to go! That's something I would think about doing, but probably wouldn't have the guts. That CEO really deserves to be CEO.

My hubby has flown
a-holes on Falcons before. He really needs to get a blog so you two can compare airplane stories.

Tanya said...

Wow, thats a great story. I would talk about doing something like that, but I am impressed that you followed through.

Beth said...

you crazy Redneck!!!! I LOVE this!!!! Hey, you got some big balls did what you had to do to get what was yours! LOVE IT!!!!

I bet you haven't had any more trouble getting paid, have you? ;)

Rob said...

All- I wish I could take credit for being brave or determined or any other positive attribute, I was just plain old mad and stubborn. Not the most positive or uplifting motivation but sometimes it can get the job done.

Tammy- So what is it about a-holes and Falcons? :) I am jealous though. I helped build about 30 of them but I never to got to ride in one let alone fly it.

Tanya- What? This is your first comment in a while that did not crack me up! :)

Beth- that was the last problem I had as a mechanic. In my second career I have had some clients that that were Veerrry slow to pay. 7 months is about the record so far! I learned to build escalating penalties for slow pay into contracts after that one!

Melek said...

WOOHOOO!!!!!! GOOD FOR YOU! i love your balls! sorry, that came out wrong...but man, you have some big ones. this, and the whole driving over the median thing.... you rock.

Andie said...

Your story is essentially what I do for my job. I call on businesses that owe my company money and listen to their song and dance ALL THE TIME and how they try to buy time with their "system" and yadda yadda.

As soon as you get legal stuff involved... they get a clue. It's amazing, really!


Tanya said...

Well sorry my comment didn't make you laugh. But I did share your story cause its a good one.

CallSignEcho said...

AMAZING! That took more guts (or anger) than I can imagine. Good for you! I'm totally linking your story from my blog. The kids at my flight school will love that story, not to mention my mechanic friends. You've got big brass ones man, congrats.