30 Years in a Box

Recently, I had occasion to be rearranging things and decided to go through the box I keep tripping over labeled FAA. I knew what was in it—mostly retirement papers, the contents of my personnel file, and materials related to my reinstatement. It was interesting going through that, to be sure, but there was so much more—and so much more to do.

I’d forgotten some of the stuff I’d hung on to—my first pay stub, the General Schedule pay card in effect when I was hired, pay stubs for most of my major promotions, grievances, annual reviews, and other treasures. I was surprised to find the Flight Assist paperwork for two of the stories elsewhere in this area (plus a third I’m going to have to chronicle), and I see I have a couple of factual things to polish up as well as actual dates and callsigns to update. I also found some Letters of Appreciation and Letters of Commendation I’d forgotten about.

I still have some sorting to do, but I’m already reframing my mental attitude about my career. For example, I’ve already noticed some of my early writing as not only very well done (if you don’t mind me saying so) but recognized by various managers as such. I’ve been of the notion that managers didn’t care for me very much, and while there’s still an element of that which is true, I see that several were more or less champions for me in some regard. I also notice that my actual ATC skills were held in higher regard than by some of my peers of the ’90s, although there were some of them who “got it,” too.

I found a document that has details, including dates, of my career progression (checkout dates, promotion dates, etc.). While they dovetail nicely with my recollection of them, it’s nice to have the written record. I even found a document which had the name of “the heartbreak motel” which was my first domicile in Hilliard—the Cavalier. I could never have come up with that name.

Virtually all of my PERs (as our annual reviews were called—originally “Periodic Employee Review”— are there. There’s actually more of a measure of management effectiveness reflected in them than there is in their review of mine. I even found details of a grievance I filed regarding one of them and evidence of a complaint I made on another. Let me describe that second one: You can see by my various dates that my annual review (on the anniversary of one’s promotion to the current grade—in most of our cases February, the date of the general ATC reclass in 1977) was several months off of my two major staff assignments. In fact, I went up to QA in November, after having spent more than a year in Traffic Management. When rating time came around, my manager told me he couldn’t rate me any higher than “Meets Requirements”—an average, and to my thinking, mediocre grade. His justification was that since I’d only been in QA a few months and wasn’t fully trained yet, he couldn’t rate me any higher. I asked what about the eight months I did an outstanding job in the TMU (Traffic Management Unit)? Does that just disappear? He relented and I was able to get a basically outstanding review from the TMU which he couldn’t help but incorporate into his average review. I still didn’t get a performance award, as I thought I should have, but at least there was continuity in other reviews over the years.

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Last updated: 20 January 2011