With a lead in like that, I had to stop channel surfing for a few minutes and see what the fuss was all about.
In the true sense of sensational journalism, the 10 minute piece NBC’s Brian Williams did on FedEx, the YouTube video of the rogue FedEx delivery man tossing a computer monitor over a fence took up less than a minute of the entire story.
But it got me to watch, so I guess the teaser did exactly what it was supposed to do.
The story showed Williams, who appears to be aging faster than Obama, hitching a ride on a FedEx plane en route to their Memphis hub were on any given weekday evening 150 planes land – 1 every 90 seconds. The 10,000 workers in this little city sort 10 million pounds of packages a night ensuring that the pair of skivvies you ordered Next Day Air gets delivered on time.
A few years ago I was invited to the FedEx St. Jude’s Classic in Memphis which included a tour of their hub. To say it was an awesome experience would be an understatement. Watching packages travel through a huge building on conveyor belts from your living room is nothing compared to seeing that happen in person.
The noise in the building is deafening. There’s no talking, as there isn’t time for nonsense. Workers sort, bag, tag, scan and load packages like a well oiled machine. The hub is truly a living organism.
Many of the tasks workers do seem mundane and repetitive. I don’t think I would be able to spend a shift putting boxes and envelopes bar code up so they get scanned by the myriad of laser beams that cover the packages as they make their way through the system.
I recall looking out on the airfield and as far as the eye can see, planes were stacked in the sky ready to land with cargo in need of sorting. Nearby, a taxiway was lined with planes waiting to depart.
The highlight of my visit was flying one of FedEx’s DC9’s.
I buckled myself into the pilot’s seat with a seasoned FedEx airman playing co-captain. We slowly made our way onto the runway, got clearance to take off and we both pushed the throttle as the jet engines came to life.
Shortly after becoming airborne, something went terribly wrong. I lost control of the plane and before reaching our cruising altitude we slammed into the ground.
Luckily for both of us this was just a flight in one of the many flight simulators FedEx uses to train their pilots.
As Williams was wrapping up his interview with Fred Smith, the founder and CEO of FedEx, he asked what he thought of the video. Smith, using carefully crafted words, said he was disappointed but didn’t offer up any unnecessary commentary.
“What’s the one question you get asked the most as the founder of FedEx?” Williams said.
With a smile on his face, Smith responded “Do you know your logo has an arrow in it?”
I hit the pause button on the TiVo and stared at the FedEx plane in the background, trying to find exactly where this illusive arrow is.
There is was. Up front and center. After seeing that logo for years I never noticed it until now.
Can you find it?