Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, Joe Stehlin has worked for private security at the Sioux Falls airport in South Dakota for over 13 years. Joe and his wife Jennifer have been married for 20 years, and they have one dog named “Dexterdog”. Work life and home life are interfused for Joe, because since 2006, he and his wife have been working together at the airport.
Joe arrived in Sioux Falls on September 9th, 2001, having moved to be closer to his wife’s family. After 9/11 left the entire nation reeling, Joe and Jennifer felt like they needed to step up and do something. Initially, Joe thought he would only work in the airport for a few years, but he soon realized he enjoyed his job too much to leave.
A typical day for Joe involves using the flight loads sent in by the airport to create schedules for the staff. On the lighter days, Joe schedules classes and certifications for the staff members, so that no hour goes unused. On the busier days, Joe will sometimes leave the office to help out with screening or baggage check.
What I do matters because…Well, for one, no company is going to be successful unless they’re organized. Part of my job is to help organize. The office does a tremendous amount of work that the screeners don’t see, and I only do a part of that work. When I’m on the floor, my job matters because if we’re not paying attention for even a moment, we could miss something. And if we miss something, we are setting ourselves up for a very negative outcome. It’s Sioux Falls, so sometimes people don’t take us seriously. But once someone’s past our checkpoint, they can go anywhere in the world. They don’t have to go through security again. We’re keeping people safe.
What is the most rewarding part of your job? Helping my coworkers. Everyone has a life outside of this place, everyone wants to go to a concert or their parent’s birthday. Being able to work out their schedules so that they can do those things while also meeting their financial needs brings me a sense of fulfillment. It lets me know that at least for that week, I’ve made a difference. Also, you meet a lot of famous people. Doc Gooden walked up to me two days before Christmas, shook my hand, and said “Hey, I just wanna tell you Merry Christmas.” It just blew me away. I mean, this guy’s a hall of famer! It made my day.
What are you most proud of at work? I think what makes me the most proud is when my coworkers tell me, “Thank you for all that you do, it makes a difference”. When I first became a lead, I came to work scared because I didn’t want to blow it. Every single day I would say the same prayer. I would ask God to show me favor with the people I work for and with, and to help me make a difference. And I believe he’s done that.
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By: Salina Sanders