Salary: : $30/hour
Age: : 49
Years on the job: : 31
How he got started: : Knowing he didn't want to go into the military or on to college, Tony Revels began working at the port of Baltimore as a longshoreman before he graduated from high school. His father also worked at the port as a longshoreman, and the two had a chance to work side by side until his father, Jesse, who has since passed away, retired in 1993. Revels calls that experience "awesome."
The job is a union position, and Revels belongs to the International Longshoremen's Association Local 333.
Typical day: : "Every day is different," Revels said about his job. He usually works 50 to 60 hours a week, but his days and hours vary and are determined by the number of vessels that come in and out of Baltimore's Seagirt Marine Terminal or Dundalk Marine Terminal. About three to six ships usually arrive each day.
The port operates seven days a week, 24 hours a day, with only a few holidays. Revels must call at 4 p.m. to find out when he'll be working the next day, and he is often on call.
As a longshoreman, it's his job to unload and load cargo from ships. He's trained to operate most of the equipment at the port, including forklifts, top loaders, bulldozers and cranes.
For most of his 31 years he has worked as a lasher, which involves securing containers, cars and cargo to be shipped or loosening the cargo and getting it ready to be unloaded. The work is physically demanding and includes climbing on the containers to properly secure them.
"I loved it, but my body started to wear out," he said.
Recently, Revels began taking on the job of crane operator, which involves moving the containers on and off the ship. The towering cranes, with an operator cab about 120 feet off the ground, offer a great view of the waterfront and surrounding area, Revels says. The job is less physically demanding but one where safety is a constant issue.
Quickness on the job also counts, as the port of Baltimore averages moving 37 containers per hour.
Changes to the job: : With increased technology and better equipment, the number of longshoremen's jobs has decreased over the years, but work has remained steady, and the port and the state do a good job of competing with other ports along the East Coast, Revels says. Overall, the port of Baltimore is ranked 12th nationally for total dollar value of foreign cargo and 14th for foreign cargo handled.
Strange cargo: : Revels has helped to load the Moscow Circus and the Batmobile, and unload live cattle with a veterinarian onboard to deliver calves. "Just when you think you've seen it all, you see something different. There's never a dull moment."
Family tradition: : Revels not only had the opportunity to work alongside his father, but also with two brothers and a brother-in-law. His son, Tony Jr., and four nephews are continuing the tradition. Revel's 17-year-old son, Austin, is also contemplating a job at the port.
The good: : "The fact that I never know what I'm going to do from day to day or how long I'll work," he says. "I couldn't handle routine."
The bad: : Although not having a set schedule is something he enjoys, it's also hard to make plans in advance and can be stressful for his family. "It's a double-edged sword."
Philosophy on the job: : "Don't ever bad-mouth your job," Revels said he tells his son who works at the port. "This job has been taking care of your family for 50 years."