“Do you have a private pilot license?”

This story is one of my favorite stories about my dad so I want to put it in a written form.

As mentioned in my previous post that my dad works for USPS (United States Post Service), he has been working there for almost 30 years. I think he has about two years left before he reaches the magical number and is second on the seniority list, which means he gets to choose almost any day he wants to get off. Before I go with this story, my dad is an avid private pilot and it’s been his dream to own a Cessna himself. My dad told me if he wasn’t deaf, he would have gone to army and fly a fighter jet somewhere deep in Vietnam. He even had tears during when Tom Cruise lost his buddy partner in the ‘Top Gun’ movie.

My dad has been working on a graveyard shift as long as I can remember. About a few years ago, he wanted to move to a daytime shift so he could spend more time with mom during the weekday nights and weekends but the management kept closing any position that had weekend days off (something to do with productivity or whatever). My dad gets off on Friday and Saturday, which isn’t that bad as he starts work on a Sunday night. So he stayed at where he is now and will most likely retire that way.

My mom told me that when they decided they want to adopt a child (which eventually would be me), my dad was working as a printer for some company but they weren’t paying him well enough, so he told my mom that he’d have to change jobs and apply at USPS. He got hired but had shitty days off—they were on Wed and Thurs but that’s usually what you get when you are at the bottom of a ladder. Eventually, he passed the trial and became permanent. Soon thereafter, he saw that he could be home with my mom on Sat. and Sun. if he signed up for this graveyard shift (11 pm to 7 am). My dad figured it’s a lot better than having to work on Sat. and Sun, even it’s during daytime. Also, it paid a bit more (about $200 more per paycheck, or $2,400 a year). He stayed on this shift ever since.

As my dad worked his way up the ladder, he became a level 5, which means he can work on a forklift. He really loved operating that forklifter and pile up the boxes as neatly as you would play a game of Tetris. Until one day, there were some changes in the management and since my dad was deaf, they felt he shouldn’t be operating on a forklift in case someone gets hurt and would sue them for being irresponsible to let my dad drive a forklift. Of course, my dad got pissed, and he contacted his union leader. The personal injury law firm got some black civil rights lawyer from Chicago and they had a meeting together.

After some discussions, my dad got a vibe that it was getting nowhere so he decided it’s time to do something and pull a trick out of his sleeves. He asked one guy from the management. The conversation went something like this.

my dad: you have a car, yeah?
he: why? yes I do.
my dad: well, me too, and to drive our cars, we need our driver’s license, right?
he: uh-huh.

my dad: so if we can drive cars, what made you think I cannot drive a forklift?
he: well it’s not about that, it’s for safety and we have to think about our employees.
my dad: right… so let me show you something *pulling a license out of his wallet* and give it to the guy.

he: what is this.. uh it says private pilot license?
my dad: yes, it is, i’m a licensed private pilot. Do you have one?
he: no I don’t.
my dad: well if the FAA thinks I can fly a plane, what made you think that I cannot drive a forklift?
he: well, you know…., well, I’ll talk abt it with my management group.

The next day, they agreed to let my dad drive a forklift but they said that my dad would be the last such person to have this exception.

Since then, my dad has been forklifting boxes like it’s a game of tetris and how many accidents in his almost 30 years of working at USPS? zero.