I flew to Southern California this morning. Being hobbled by crutches, I got to sit close to the front of plane. It was an early flight; normally at 0700 I would have closed my eyes and slept through taxiing and take off. But this morning, I kept awake for the safety announcements.
I heeded Carrie.
Carrie was the flight attendant for the front of the aircraft. When she presented the safety and warning demo, I listened carefully and paid unusual attention to what she was doing with seat belt and oxygen mask and life vest. I read the safety brochure. I watched how Carrie flourished her hand in the direction of the exits and floor lighting. Despite that she was poised and graceful I doubt that many passengers even glanced at her. I later asked her if being ignored bothered her. She was diplomatic in her response: it depended on her mood.
While looking at Carrie trying to teach me something I thought about the crew of the US Airways 1549 that crash landed in the Hudson River in New York on January 15; the crew that helped to save all 155 passengers. How many of those passengers had listened to the safety announcements? And later today, I thought about the crew of United flight 93 that crashed in a Pennsylvania field after passengers overpowered 9/11 hijackers. And I thought about Aloha Airlines Flight 243 that lost its roof mid-flight between Hilo and Honolulu on 28 April 1988, ejecting one flight attendant. My boss was on that flight and bore a scar on his forehead for a long while after.
So, today I appreciated that flight crews make flying so familiar that we do not even stop to think anymore about what flying is: whisking at 500 plus miles per hour, supported merely on moving air. Wonder a moment at flying and realize that the reason it seems so effortless is because we are in the care of professionals like Carrie. So if Carrie insists that I stop chattering!, put down my book! and, dammit! pay attention! while she tells me things I need to know, then yes, I am going to heed her.