Workers wrap up on Kauai, Big Isle
HILO » Aloha cargo employee Mario Andres sat in the cargo warehouse at Hilo airport yesterday playing with a couple of cucumbers.
A grower whose shipment was stranded Monday night by the shutdown of Aloha Cargo reclaimed it yesterday, leaving one of his boxes of cucumbers for the employees to share.
"We got paid in cucumbers," Andres said with a grin.
In Hilo and Lihue, a number of now-jobless Aloha Air veterans showed up for work anyway, helping wrap up loose ends and talking story.
"Nothing else better for us to do," said Makanani Nelson in Hilo.
They were there to make sure customers who dropped their products off Monday would be able to get them back, explained employee Stacey Urbano-Pepee.
"The customers became our friends," she said.
Some employees, like Andres, had been laid off when Aloha's passenger service closed March 31.
A few with seniority were called back for two days of training in the cargo service last week, Andres said.
They began working Sunday night. The cargo operation shut down Monday night.
"We trained two days for one day of work," Andres said.
With a play on words, he added, "We started Sunday evening, and Monday was 'aloha.'"
On Kauai, Ronald Silva, who just celebrated 20 years with Aloha on Saturday, was joined by 23-year employee Ken Kashiwabara and retiree Jeff Albao, who reminisced about working the night shift, hopping on a plane to play softball or get a different bite to eat, and then coming home all in the same day.
"The Aloha spirit, it still lives on," Kashiwabara said. "I would've come in just to keep the customers" happy.
Albao brought his daughter, who grew up at the Aloha cargo terminal, to help clean up. "I'm retired (after almost 35 years), but it still hurts," Albao added.
Star-Bulletin staff writers Tom Finnegan and Gary T. Kubota contributed to this report.