03 May 2010

Novel slows down - but Sarah gets a new boss

Moving forward with the novel is so challenging now, due to my lack of motivation. I am finding myself ever more easily annoyed, as (1) I cannot even count on my living arrangements in a few months (my current place may need to be rented out), and (2) I'm running out of patience with people I deal with, for whom I might as well be speaking Martian. This is despite the fact that I'm trying to enjoy myself, complete with a Dodgers baseball season ticket package. (Who knows, Sarah may need to become part of the Giants-Dodgers rivalry, she would be rooting for the Giants.)

The big news today, however, is that Sarah's employer, United Airlines, announced a merger with Continental Airlines. I am following up on a number of articles, as well as the two airlines' official merger site. The combined airline will be called United, but will use Continental's current branding including the globe tail, and the new airline's management team will be led by Continental's CEO (AKA Sarah's new boss). While most people, including me, see airline mergers as a bad thing due to decreased competition and reduced services on redundant routes, this may be one exception due to relatively little overlap between the two airlines (the recent Delta-Northwest merger also is considered to be a good one along similar lines). In any case, regulators and unions will have to sign off on the merger before it's done - that includes Association of Flight Attendants, which represents Sarah.

I even read a particular article, which I cannot locate anymore, regarding Sarah's old boss, Glenn Tilton, who joined United as an industry outsider in 2002, coming from Texaco. Tilton has been reviled, and rightfully so, for stiffing his employees, via a number of moves including termination of employee pension plan. I do not think his name is something that brings smiles to Sarah, for sure. Tilton was also responsible for mass termination of plane leases, and for letting the United fleet decay significantly. The United board of directors had zero employee representation, which allowed Tilton to rule in a nearly dictatorial manner, and he was looking for mere survival rather than building of the airline. There are tons of battle scars at United, which will continue to be factors even after the merger is completed. However, I am hearing two good things regarding him - that (1) his appointment of a new COO for services/fleet has started concrete improvements in service and returned profitability, and (2) his insistence on finding a suitable merger partner, which culminated with the Continental merger today, may be the one thing that ensures United - and Sarah - will fly on. (And that my frequent flier points live on too.)

In any case, this will be an interesting development, even though I expect the storyline to end before the merger is of any consequence. However, the turbulent years involving bankruptcy and pension termination, which left Sarah fuming badly and even laid off for a while, are definitely worth a review, to get the storyline right for her.

P.S. According to the official merger website, the founder of Varney Air Lines, a mail airline and one of the four airlines that merged to form United, went on to found another mail airline, Varney Speed Lines, in 1935, and that became today's Continental. Pretty interesting to see both companies become one again.


gayle said...

I hope you'll find motivation for your novel again soon, Rach. Maybe every time you sit down to write a blog or facebook post, you could write a few sentences of the novel, too. :) xoxo

Rachel said...


Thank you!

Anger has gotten the better of me lately. Sometimes even coming to work in itself can be frustrating - just because of all the toxic McCarthyist crap.

I actually checked in with my meditation master in Seoul, and he's not surprised, saying that I had halted my progress midstream, and was not quite ready to meditate/calm down on my own yet. I may need to pay him a visit soon. That may be good for the novel, since Seoul has proven to be the one place where my creative juices really flowed.

If this Seoul return works out, I will make sure to fly with Sarah. At least I could use 25% extra frequent flier miles due to my status with Sarah's airline.