A poignant article from the Times: Still on the Job, But at Half the Pay.
The dark blue captain’s hat, with its golden oak-leaf clusters, sits atop a bookcase in Bryan Lawlor’s home, out of reach of the children. The uniform their father wears still displays the four stripes of a commercial airline captain, but the hat stays home. The rules forbid that extra display of authority, now that Mr. Lawlor has been downgraded to first officer. He is now in the co-pilot’s seat in the 50-seat commuter jets he flies, not for any failure in skill. He wears his captain’s stripes, he explains, to make that point. But with air travel down, his employer cut costs by downgrading 130 captains, those with the lowest seniority, to first officers, automatically cutting the wage of each by roughly 50 percent — to $34,000 in Mr. Lawlor’s case.But here's some bits that disturbed me:
“I don’t want to be a 50-year-old pilot earning $40,000 a year,” he said, adding that his wife does not want to be married to a pilot with so little earning power.That seems a bit harsh, don't you think? From the rest of the article, the wife doesn't really seem to be taking that view-- she's worried about their loss of income but she also gives her husband kudos for helping out more around the house when he's working less. They're stressed out, as anyone would be, but it's not sounding like she's ready to divorce him if he doesn't get a raise.
Another quote that bothered me:
Bryan and Tracy Lawlor, who is also 34, have hidden their straitened circumstances from their four young children, mainly at his insistence. But as their savings dwindle, Christmas, a key indicator in the Lawlor family, will mean fewer presents this year. The Lawlors have made a practice of piling on toys and new clothes for their children at Christmas, buying relatively less the rest of the year. That will make a cutback noticeable this holiday season, and the parents are concerned that their children will begin to realize why.
“You don’t want to see disappointment on their faces; that makes me feel horrible,” Mr. Lawlor said. “You can be the best pilot in the airline and make the best landings, and in their eyes, I am not going to be as important as I was.”
I don't mean to criticize this guy-- he's in a tough spot, one that I can't claim to have been in myself. I do know how much fun it can be to give my niece and nephew presents, and I can imagine how my heart would sink if they seemed disappointed. But it's just sad that he seems to place all his self-esteem in his earning power and ability to shower his children with presents. I hope he doesn't really think his kids and his wife only respect and love him because of his rank and salary.