When the stakes are this high, there are better jobs out there suited for those who are this disinterested and dissatisfied.
NPR published a story yesterday, “Boeing Employees Mocked FAA In Internal Messages Before 737 Max Disasters.” I’m really troubled by the article, so much so that I dusted off my old podcasting account and uploaded a few agitated soundbites.
According to NPR, internal documents released by Boeing show some employees complaining about dangerous problems with the beleaguered jet while others bragged about cutting corners and pulling the wool over the eyes of federal regulators.
One employee who worked on development of the plane said, “this airplane is designed by clowns who in turn are supervised by monkeys.” Another employee asked a coworker, “Would you put your family on a Max simulator trained aircraft?” The coworker responded, “No.”
According to NPR the documents show that “employees mock the Federal Aviation Administration and bragged about getting regulators to approve the jets without requiring much additional pilot training.”
How is this even possible? What has been going on at Boeing? Let’s set aside the political debate about deregulation for the moment. Let’s even set aside any questions about taking pride in one’s work. Let’s even go a step further and set aside foundational principles of common sense. Let’s talk about baseline moral sensiblities.
According to NPR one employee in 2018 said, “I still haven’t been forgiven by God for the covering up what I did last year.”
Who cares? Even taken out of context it's clear that the self centered nature of the statement is devoid of a guilty conscious. Concerns about the fates of those who perished in the devastating crashes is lacking, if not completley vacant.
This isn't about divine redemption. It’s about trying to understand how one could have been cold, clueless and disenchanted enough to cheapen the build of a multi-ton behemoth that would carry hundreds of thousands of souls from one destination to another, thirty-three thousand feet above the ground.
Anti-regulation zealots in any industry are free to loath the efforts of the bureaucrats who oversee production. At the same time, disenchanted employees performing inspiration-less tasks will often defy core competencies as an effective method of silent protest.
I did it. I worked as a commissioned sales person for Nordstrom for a few years. I despised selling men’s clothes for nine dollars per hour, plus a four percent commission. It was a repressive, silly work environment. I cut every corner imaginable and, whenever possible, ignored every meaningless, corporate-imposed regulation.
My behavior was inappropriate and immature. Still, it was okay. The stakes were so low. If Mr. Blakefield wasn’t fully satisfied with an awkward-fitting, too small for his frame, pair of 7 For All Mankind jeans, he could return them. Sure, Blakefield probably suffered acute embarrassment after sporting an overpriced Armani suit that made him look like a six inch hot dog stuffed into a three inch bun. Perhaps it dampened the mood, every so slightly, at his early retirement party. He would also have completely forgotten about it by the time he and his wife took their first Viking, luxury cruise on the gentle Danube River. The brightly illuminated Hungarian Parliament Bulding in mid November is quite a breathtaking spectacle.
My slothful, workplace disinterest isn’t okay at a place like Boeing. The stakes are too high. The moral ineptitude required to brag about bucking the system while putting your customers’ lives in danger is almost unimaginably, if not inadvertantly malicious.
If you have a job at a place like Boeing and you hate the work or if you despise the required oversight, please quit, immediately. Take the pay cut and go work for Nordstrom. You might be surprised. You might be good at it and you might actually like it.