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Friday, September 09, 2011

10 Years

Ten years ago today, I could come and go freely between the forward galley and the flight deck.  I could deliver meals by myself and even let the pilots out of the flight deck to use the restroom without assistance.  And the flight deck door would remain open all of the way until we reached the runway for takeoff.  The doors were not made of Kevlar.  Let's just say that things were different.  Very different. 

I've just finished listening to a whole slew of new audio tapes made available to the public over this last week.  You'll find them here via the New York Times.  I know life is very busy for all of us.  But I'd like you to spend 30 minutes listening.  These are my people.  My life.  I've spent 16 years being a flight attendant.  I love my job more than you'll ever know.  There's just nothing like that feeling of being a flight attendant.  I'd like you to pay special attention to these sections of the tapes:  (1) 8:19...Betty Ong flight attendant.  Listen to how calm she is.  She knows nothing of the magnitude of the situation.  This could be me and my voice.   (2) 9:28 Flight 93...listening to the struggle and screaming is just about more than I could handle.  I could be in that aircraft(3) 10:32 Shoot down Order Given.  Gosh, these words awake something deep inside. 

I drove my honey to the Portland airport this morning to begin his 2-day trip to Chicago.  He said to me, "I wish I wasn't going on this trip.....I'd rather be home with you right now.....I hope nothing happens while I'm gone."  The main roadway into the airport is lined with hundreds of US flags in the grass strip next to the road.  They begin a 1/2 mile from the terminal.  I wrote about my day 10 years ago in this post.  I wish my honey wasn't gone, either.  It would be a very good weekend for him to be home with me. 

Monday, September 05, 2011

Social Shallowness and the Young

The young mystify me.  The mindset keeps me awake at night sometime.  You'll remember the Young and the Restless from a while back.  The fickleness, the erratic emotions and behaviors, the wild swings in emotion.

I've been on the Design Team for a new flight attendant training program.   I've been sequestered in Seattle much of the summer months.  Planning, designing, thinking, all of that.  There are 15 of us.  A piece of our program is going to deal with a sort of generational study -- looking at the four different generations currently existing together, trying to work together, in this day and age.  It looks at the differences in thinking, working, communicating, home life, values, what's important and what isn't.  Fascinating stuff!  We've looked at the Veteran group, the Baby Boomer group, and the Gen X and Y groups.  And now that I've been dealing with it, thinking about it, and working on this program, it seems to return to my mind regularly as I go through my days.

The group that continues to have me confounded is the Gen X and Y groups.  I've got numerous friends in those groups.  And I'd never want to point fingers and accuse.  But I am wondering.  I'm wondering about commitment.  I'm wondering about long-term.  I'm wondering about balance and centering.  All of which appear to be missing.  I've heard several younger buddies say simply in passing, "I think I'll just quit and go work somewhere else...."  Umm, okay.  Really?  After five or so years of devoting yourself to a super fantastic job you'll just up and quit?  Weird.  I've heard statements such as "I've got nothing keeping me here."  To which I asked about the human element -- "Don't you have any friends or people you've met here....like ME!....that you feel any connection to?  The answer was a shrug of the shoulders and sort of a blank, noncommittal stare.  Nope, I don't mean a thing. Disposable is a word that comes to mind.

Gosh, where will that leave us as a society?  Say in ten, 20 or 50 years from now?  What will our social structure look like?  Will our work groups, church groups, neighborhoods, groups of friends, be solid?  Tight?  Together?  I hear statements on the far ends of the emotional scales -- far left, then far right -- and wonder where the middle ground is.  Wonder where the balance or center point is.  And I wonder who is around to help mentor, teach, Life Skills 101 to those who need it.  It all feels shallow to me.  Words in passing, catch phrases roll off the tongue with flippant sort of stylistic contemporary attitudes.  Sense of entitlement floats through my thoughts. 

I walked up and put my hand on the shoulder of a friend who I hadn't seen in a week.  Not a long time.  Just that we have become pretty darned good friends through the years.  I got a look, a stare, not good, not bad.  A nothing, really.  He started in on something or other about something or other.  I waited.  Waited.  Oh and, then, yeah.....finally......"How are you doing?" I finally got asked.  It just doesn't seem right to me.  And I worry for the future of this globe and its people.