Written Letter to Rockaway Primetime: My Experience Working at an Airport

By Anonymous sender.
So since I have had many who reached out in my time of need, I just wanted to compile all of the details into one space.
It all started roughly around April 2016. I was frustrated with the weather hindering my ability to work at my previous job in an amusement park. I was barely making 9.00/hr and it was hard to pick up more shifts because they had to give all staff they hired shifts. Plus, as with all jobs now, they told me to have open availability. I still went to interviews because I was not happy with making significantly less and subsequently losing my bank account. I was not happy with the complicated commute I had to make going further south in Queens to go crosstown and further south in Brooklyn. Plus, my bf at the time was making fun of where I was working.
I wanted to prove to myself that I can get back on my feet and work toward my career goals of being a fine beverage some in the food hospitality world.
Enter the job interview I landed via harri.com. I got ready, dressed my best, and I spoke eloquently. I used tag words and I followed the body gestures and the vibe of those who interviewed me. I was told after my interview that I got the offer and that there were three subsequent steps in the onboarding process.
May 17. 2018 was the day that really made me hope and feel that this particular company operating within one of the most advanced airports in this city, that happens to be near me, was going to help me out.
But I was wrong.
So, after getting the offer, I then had to go to the security building across the airport to get my safety class and certificate. I was anxious and had my period. You all know I dislike to go anywhere while menstruating, at least during the first three days. But, despite my anxiety, phobia, and my menstruation, I still got up, got ready, and showed up. I took the exam and did well and got my certificate. However, they should have given me an agenda as to how long that step was going to take. As I get older, when I am stuck in an unfamiliar place, with too many variables to consider, already at a disadvantage due to my physical and mental health concerns, it just makes for a disaster. But the Taurean in me still had to do well. I had too many like my sister wanting me to fail and who spoke curses on my life. Just an FYI, the safety class was Monday, May 23rd.
So the HR recruiters all told me if there were any concerns and when you completed a step in the onboarding process, to email them.
So the next step came up on Tuesday, May 24th. This step pertained to filling out the application for Port Authority, who are in charge of the overall operation of this transit hub. However, this step was really short and quick. I set aside my entire day again. I felt that I could have gone to Jamaica after and pled my case for getting food assistance and other possible social services I may need. Anyways, the recruiter that was there was much nicer and she was patient and explained everything. I was comfortable and still felt comfortable in my choice. I did notice how my physical health was not doing so well but I did not have the money for the co-pay to see a doctor for an upcoming health concern that I will explain later.
Red flag number one. It came up on Friday, May 27th. First off, this was Memorial Day weekend and I was gearing up to finally get more shifts at my amusement park job. I wanted to see about going on another day because, if you are such a large company, you would have to have a second date prepared. Especially if there are any possible emergencies. Because you are an international company that works in airports that always have to prepare emergencies. Anyways, at this point, I was not at all well at this point. My kidneys hurt at times, and I felt dehydrated. But, being a Taurus, I had to keep going.
Basically at this orientation, the women from HR not only came significantly late, but they did not give an agenda to explain how orientation was going to be like, and they were yelling and flustered. We were a large group and those who came in late should have been turned around and declined their application. It was stressed in the email that you come in on time, and if you were late or absent (without giving a 24+hour warning about such an absence) “your eligibility to work at JFK Airport would be SUSPENDED!”
I should have walked out of the room when that HR person (whose name escapes me) HIT ME. SHE HIT MY HAND THAT WAS RUSHING TO SIGN THE PAPERWORK GIVEN. BECAUSE I WAS ON THE WRONG PAGE.
Breathe Em. I did not walk out, and I instead stayed because I wanted the job so bad. It was going to be 1.10 more an hour and with union and medical benefits. I had to walk out and use the restroom in order to calm down.
But it only got worse. We had to move to another room and then had to wait for the executive HR professional to come in and conduct quizzes on Sexual Misconduct/Title IX mattes, and about more safety precautions. She came in the room petit as ever but with the nastiest Napoleon Complex. She reminded me of all the white Jewish and Italian female teachers who would come into a classroom full of beautiful and smart PoC children and essentially yell and be stern for no fucking reason. I hated her misuse of the Bitch energy. It was not necessary. Everyone was calm.
Plus, I did not have my temp badge and my fingerprinting done. And they said I had to get that done before the orientation. They fucked up the order. Because I was given my schedule at orientation and I was to start the following week on Wednesday, June 1.
I get my fingerprinting and my temp badge did on the first day I was supposed to work. That’s essentially fucking with my money. That is a pet peeve of mine. Plus, I was finally able to go to urgent care by Tuesday, May 31st and they said I had a really bad infection that I had to take strong antibiotics for. I had to delay taking them Wednesday because I did not know how they would react with my body and I had to be out all day. The managers were hard to reach and the manager that finally was able to escort me was very harried and dared to say I yelled at him when in actuality I sternly told him why making me wait was not fair.
I am the type of person to not want to show up unprepared for work. I want to see where I am working, who I would be working with, what the uniform is, and know what I have to do as a cashier.
But the final nail in the coffin was when I started my first day on Thursday, June 2nd. My co-workers were not helpful so I had to jump in and do what I knew to do in terms of engaging the customers and filling orders. However, I noticed that I was extremely nauseated and at times I almost felt like throwing up. It was hot in the station and I was sweating profusely and taking antibiotics….. I smelled horrific. Plus I was working around Asian food that is pungent and with ingredients, am very much allergic to (seafood and fish). I expected to be on the register primarily and I was not. Plus, my manager was on a business trip training for the next station that had what I really wanted to work with-coffee and tea and pastries. I want to be a fine beverage somm. I was furious and I was angry when I left the job that day. I had no locker room to stash my bag, and I reeked and had no clothes to change into. I hoped the second day was better. But it was not. The prep chef was a no call/no show and the executive chef had to come down from upstairs to help us prep and open when a replacement came in. I was furious. I wanted to just walk out of the place. I was like this is not how I should be treated. So I was slated to then work Saturday and have off Sunday and Monday. I called out because I needed to be able to take my antibiotics at regular intervals and to heal.
Oh, they thought I would be okay with having no life, having to wake up at 2:30a every day from Tuesday to Saturday. I noticed I had to go to sleep by 8p the latest in order to be somewhat awake at the time I needed to be up. I could not. I felt drunk having to get up at a time when I would be getting my REM sleep, crashing around my room to get ready and stumble to the bathroom. Falling asleep on the bus ride to work and travelling by myself in pitch black darkness when only trains are running. I am angry that workers in the airport go through this. This is abuse. Also, it is courtesy that you work three days straight and then get one or two days off in the restaurant industry. Plus, sales would not pick up until 11am. So we should have a staggered opening, opening at a time where everyone got more rest and are ready to work. Not only that, the manager finally came back Saturday and had the audacity to call me Tuesday (when I called out again because I still needed more time to finish my antibiotics that I finish tonight) and try to put words in my mouth. She tried to say that I chose this schedule. She violated my HIPAA rights when asking me why I called out. She wanted to say it was a good opportunity but failed to be there or at least have a supervisor right in my station (instead of having other managers who seem to work very little and are more hands on at their other stations in the terminal) to help train me. She also did not take seriously how I did not expect to work in this station and put my health at risk being around severe allergens.
I already emailed HR and I check often to see if they emailed me back and they have not. As of right now I am stuck at home while I patiently wait for a job I signed a contract for on Tuesday. That is the other reason why I called out. I had to go to that orientation (but thankfully it was at a time after I had to take my medicine and was short) I also had to get a doctors note to prove my absence and both were in the same vicinity. The job I signed up for is organized, will start out with training and the manager was delighted to know that I want to work with beverages and work my way up to the bar area. Everyone at that place was so nice plus I would not have to worry about nerve racking commutes that are hard on my body.
But everyone please pray for me. And if you travel, be extra kind to every airport worker you come into contact with. They go through too much and repeatedly have their rights violated and do not have the privileges I have (mother financially helping me at times, stable housing, etc). And to those looking for a job, try to not work in an airport.

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