The Somebody Else Up There Who Loves You


A sleek, glossy pamphlet reads:

                  NoLimits: Southwest Airlines Internship Programs…

                            find your window of opportunity at Southwest Airlines

It’s all rather transcendental. The pages are SWA color-schemed (the new Canyon Blue livery, not the original Desert Gold). The document is an inspiring primer of the guiding values and principles of SWA. It’s more than an airline—“it’s a family” and “the opportunity of a lifetime.” According to one intern’s testimonial, “Once you’ve experienced Southwest, there is nothing that compares. I honestly would have come back and cleaned toilets just so I could work here.” A true measure of devotion.

Filling the Pews

It’s mostly Mass Communication and Marketing majors sitting in this darkened seminar room in the library. About eighty percent female, and beautiful ones at that. They all have that heavenly quality—a beauty reserved for angels and those pioneering 1967 SWA stewardesses, hand-picked by the same man who selected the first Playboy Bunnies. Sashaying from passenger to passenger in hot pants and zipped up golden go-go boots, surely they were worshipped as idols.

I’m the black sheep, a reconnoitering English major endowed with a Y-chromosome, here to find out if they will be handing out bags of peanuts like fish to the masses. But like the bum in the pew trying to get a few hours rest, I can’t help getting caught up in the gospel.

The Gospel According to Luke (as interpreted by your correspondent)

Luke Stone has come from out west to give us the good news. He is issuing a clarion call to those who have a Warrior Spirit, a Servant’s Heart, and a Fun-LUVing Attitude: The fruits of the corporate spirit, a spirit fostered by founders Rolin King and Herb Keller, and forged through the deep routes of a Texas airline.

Luke asks us to look in our hearts and seek out what we love about Southwest. Maybe it’s the classless, egalitarian seating assignments and boarding procedures, or the little packets of peanuts they hand out in flight. It might be the unionized labor, or the ten-minute turn rule on the runway that keeps their planes moving smoothly and on time. For some perhaps it’s a quiet satisfaction knowing that SWA’s NYSE call letters are LUV and that its corporate headquarters in Dallas is called Love HQ. From a humble perspective, it’s the idea that the meek shall inherit the legroom. Or it might just be that southwestern palette of colors, speckled in the sky like Native American trinkets laid out on a blue woven blanket.

Luke Stone is hoping that all this will resonate with the souls in the room. He lets it sink in.

“And the reward of all this,” Luke Stone says, “is a business environment where you can dress however you want; an internship that provides real life experience; and of course, the ability to fly anywhere in the country, whenever you want, for free.” It’s enough to make me consider leaving my ambitions as a writer behind, and forging an application as a mass-comm major. As I stand, I am not likely to be in the truth.

He plays a video that shows interns at work while Tom Petty’s Learning to Fly plays in the background. Maybe the editor didn’t realize that this song is about the loss of innocence—and that the music video for this song was filmed in an airplane graveyard, Tom Petty comfortably seated on the nose of a shot-up fighter plane. With each testimony the message deteriorates. It’s like watching a line of people walking into the water in front of some dyed-in-the-wool preacher. His conviction wanes not with each saved soul, but to the damned spectators on the shore, the procession is tedious.

I get that same feeling I get when I go to someone else’s church with some unfamiliar family. Like I’m betraying my faith. This place is not for me. No matter how many free flights or packets of peanuts, this is not the sort of ascension I seek. I look around the room. Everyone else has eaten their packet of peanuts. Mine sits before me, unopened and still slightly puffed.


Stewart Sinclair attended the Southwest Airlines Internship Seminar at Loyola University New Orleans on September 20, 2011.

Category: Airlines

Latest Stories
Checking In/Checking Out

Filter by Category

Everyone has a story to tell...

Submit Yours Here

Points of Departure: