World Trade Centre disaster, bird flu, terrorists, swine flu a blog on safety – hidden cash, condoms and broad-spectrum antibiotics- seem a little naive and out of place.
Nothing we plan can save us from major disasters. Nevertheless, on the plane, I will continue to count the rows forward and back to exits in case of minor disasters or accidents.
Survival, from events less than the twin towers seem to be hugely assisted by an intention to survive. Recent TV shows have shown us how to plan to survive the mountains or desert. On a smaller scale I am reminded of my daughter’s attitude to a bag-snatching in London.
Off to see London’s most popular stage show, the wonderful The Lion King, we had arranged to meet her husband in a global food store and stayed for what became an uneaten snack.
‘Your bag’s been taken’ a woman called.
We looked around to see who had been so unfortunate. It was my daughter! With a surge of adrenaline she took off -slamming the swing doors open with a dramatic flourish, chasing a male with a red cap- the only information she had. Her husband and I followed, the police joined in and finally, after a run from Charring Cross to Covent Gardens, my son-in-law had him in on the ground in a headlock, awaiting the police and handcuffs. Her bag, with the tickets and money, saved. I bought up the rear.
Why did my daughter chase him? Why did some of her friends say they would not have done the same? Talking with the police afterwards we agreed, you are either a chaser or a not-a-chaser. My daughter is a chaser. A successful chaser who ensured we were still able to see the show – albeit in a more dishevelled state than we had planned!
In emergencies we don’t have time to think about what to do, we react. I wonder if survival is similar: that some of us will wait to be rescued, others will be proactive.
So how can we look after ourselves while travelling? With major events such as hijacking and air crashes we can’t do a lot, however perhaps we can be more helpful by being more responsible air travellers.
How often do we see greedy, self-centred people (or worse, have done it ourselves!) struggling on board with heavier or more hand-luggage than regulations allow.
Mid-air, it’s your head the heavy bag could hit, our overweight plane that uses more fuel, could be de-stabilised: a thoughtless act that could put all our lives put at risk. Their intentions would not be to endanger lives, but the results could be just the same.
Also, every one of those extra items has to be examined in the x-ray machine, resulting in longer queues, more time, more staff and consequently higher airfares. Will we willingly pay for those added services or nag the airlines to reduce the costs and time until safety is jeopardised?
Returning from that London trip, I travelled through Chicago airport where I needed to change planes. The next plane was ready to receive us, in fact some had boarded, when an announcement was made.
“There is a strong smell of fuel at the rear of the plane and we need to check where it is coming from and clear the fumes before allowing you on board.”
Waiting, I wrote postcards then settled down to read among a clamour of voices.
‘When will we be leaving? This is really inefficient. I wish they’d hurry-up. I have a meeting to get to, people picking me up. That’s the problem with this airline, they’re always late.’
On and on and on they went, moaning at any employee or fellow traveller who ventured too close.
I too had people meeting me at the other end – I too had an event to get to, but I, and I hope the majority of the other passengers, had a different mindset.
My thoughts were more in line with – take as long as you need – I’m glad you found out now, not when we are high above the earth – don’t allow me on until you know the plane is perfectly safe.
I value my life, and although sometimes it is a pain to have to wait for security or mechanical checks when you have been flying for hours or have an appointment to reach – when I consider the alternatives – waiting is the best option by far.
What are your tips for safe travel?