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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Let's Think Of Others Instead of Ourselves

Every time something like this happens, there's this funny twinge inside of me. In the head (for the technical, book, educational, training issues) and certainly in the heart (for the emotional and soul parts that clobber us from time to time). I think about the passengers in the cold night air, out in the field, scared to death, worrying, wondering, wandering around. I think of the scariness of actually seeing an airplane broken -- the engine laying next to it, the landing gear not extended, the belly smooshed into the frozen earth. Those things aren't supposed to happen. And the emergency exits opened up, the slides flapping in the winter night air. And I think of the crew....those with whom I have huge respect and admiration. You'll remember that I posted this about the crew back on 9/11:

You know, there's just something about wearing a uniform. Any uniform. It seems to sort of create a camaraderie. A group or cohesiveness. You sort of understand one another a little better and know what each other may very well be thinking or feeling. You know the routine, the drill. In good times, the stories of weird situations and people are the life of the party. And in difficult times, the stress can be high and the memories cut deep. And the stress of this present day was about to slice as deep as anything in my life. And I didn't even know it quite yet.
I think of commands like, "Brace! Brace! Heads down, stay down! Stand back!" I'm required to know those backwards and forwards and to be tested on them annually. It gets quite heated and the heart races in anticipation. I hope I never have to use it. Every time I look at those seated in the emergency exit seats and give them the required briefing, I know full well that they rarely listen to me. And I know equally as well that, most likely, I'm wasting my time in some sort of twisted way....that they will probably not need to know what I'm telling them. But, "What If?" I spend 90% of my time training for things that will probably never happen.
So, as Portland lays underneath a sheet of ice this morning after freezing rain latched itself onto us overnight, I think of those in our world who find themselves in places today that they never planned for nor expected today. Accidents, unanticipated events, luck of the draw, whatever you want to call it. It's hard to recover from those kinds of things. It sometimes takes therapy, time, talking it out, crying, or education. It always makes me think about recentering, bringing proper balance, and smoothing out the things that cause me to get off balance from time to time, much like a car tire out of balance. The ride isn't pleasant.
On this first day of winter 2008 kicks into full swing, and as our holiday season blasts down the final home stretch, I think of those who are very busy today and possibly even away from their friends and families -- in hospitals as either patients or workers, in our armed forces, working at jobs to make our lives easier -- hospital and emergency workers, airline and transportation employees, cashiers and wait staff, those who clear our roads, telephone call center folks, television and news crews, and many more. And I think of the terror and fright of those on Continental Airlines 1404 last night in Denver. And those on a flight years ago that struck terror in my soul -- it was way too close for comfort. I hope, as I do frequently, that it never happens to me nor those close to me. Let's think about others this week instead of ourselves.


Breenlantern said...

We could all benefit from a daily dose of concern, respect and appreciation for the people who make our lives better, whether it be via their jobs, their money, their ideas or their emotional support. It is sad that it takes tragedy to pull people together and inspire them to reflect on the fortune of safety, convenience and provisions in their life. Perhaps if we understood how connected we are and how impacted we are by the ripples in our lives other people make, strangers and those well known to us alike, we might be more careful, compassionate and considerate with our words, actions and beliefs. "Ask not for whom the bell tells..."

WhozHe said...

Very thoughtful post. I pray for all the lives impacted by the crash in Denver.

Blair said...

I often think of all the craziness every time we are apart from each other and out flying the wild and wilder blue yonder. I will not live in fear, but I will love you more and more each day knowing that our lives can change at any given moment. I am glad we are snowed in together today and that we are not stuck apart due to the crazy weather. This is what this season is about for me.

Here's to safe travels for the millions traveling this week!

Lemuel said...

Seriously, I thought of you immediately when I heard about Denver and prayed that you were not on the flight.

There is much you learn to do - and many of us learn to do - that we hope is wasted effort. I hope that you never have to say those things in a real emergency. I hope you waste your breath telling people who are ignoring you those things until you are safely retired and remembering the stories from the good old days.

And I hope that everyone who does your job always and ever finds those things to be wasted effort because they are never needed.

Ultra Dave said...

Very well said.

Geoff said...

Amazing post, and thoughtful advice.

Jim said...

As a frequent flyer with a brother who is a pilot, I am alert and focused during each and every safety drill on the plane (And I know my commands for the Exit row, "LEAVE EVERYTHING! COME THIS WAY!").

Freakishly, I also note emergency exits in hotels, restaurants, movie theaters and such.

And I promise, I always smile and say thank you to my flight attendants on the way out of the cabin.

Anonymous said...

Poignant reminder friend... it is important to take a moment and remember how connected we all are, and how important it is to give of ourselves to others... especially in a season like this.
Be well
Be safe

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