Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Loss Of A Member Of Our Maintenance Family

Recently we lost a valuable member of our Oakland Maintenance family, one that has been in OAK longer than me and was a real hard worker and very dependable. I an referring of course to our Maintenance Van.

I remember when I first met the van. I was  working here for a couple of months when we had to make a run to San Jose to fix a couple of planes. About six of us piled into the van. There were at time only two seats in the van, however, so I asked what we were going to do. KW (he no longer works for SWA but I changed the name for his safety) told me to grab some cardboard of foam packing and find a spot on the floor. It was a fun and thrilling time for me as I was new to this whole Line MX thing and it had an air of doing whatever we had to in order to get the job done.

The van, at one time, was our road trip vehicle. We used it to travel all over the Bay Area and I believe it even made the trip to Reno a few times. It was also a popular Midnight shift vehicle since it had a radio and a tow hitch. Guys would load their tools into the back and rock out at their planes with the rear doors open.

Back when we were able to be Badged at different airports I rode in the van to SFO with Trooper and another guy. Our manager told us to park in the short term lot and he would reimburse us for the cost. Well back before the remodel there were these metal balls that hung down on chains from a sign across the entrance to the lot. These balls were supposed to warn you if your vehicle was too tall for the garage. We laughed because the truck in front of us cleared the "balls of death" but the guy had his camper shell aft window up and open. The "balls of death" smashed his window to bits. We knew the van would fit but did not take into account the beacon on top of the van. That beacon stood no chance against the balls and they claimed their second victim in under two minutes.

In the last few years the van has been our parking lot shuttle. Parked out there waiting for the next shift to come in. The van happily fulfilled this duty until late last month when the engine started to make dying noises and finally gave up the ghost.

The van had it's quirks. The side door was welded shut due to the fact that it fell off once when the guys were driving on the highway. The other odd thing was that the front roof section was caved in. As I liked to say in the shop: "all the cool guys know why the roof of the van is caved in."

There is a movement going on right now to buy her a new engine or even get a different van. I kind of lean toward the new engine side. That van was originally a Morris Air van and is part of SWA history. I think it deserves another shot.