And they won’t forget anytime soon that their seat cushion can also be used as a flotation device
by Todd Wells
When people go to the doctor, and the doctor says, “You’re going to die, unless you do the following…”, they don’t take that as a cue to put on their headphones. So why would you do it on a plane? Exactly — people are crazy. And I don’t want to brag, but, unlike a doctor who only has a handful of patients, each day I was a potential savior to hundreds of people. I offered knowledge that, in the event of a water landing, would allow them to look once again into the eyes of their loved ones. But all they cared about was how long until the beverage service started. Their only thoughts were whether or not to ask for the Coke without ice, because then they’d get more Coke. In their complacency, the passengers didn’t realize that my instructions, and their seat cushions, were all that stood between them and a watery grave.
My co-workers fared no better. Some of them infused the lesson with comedy. Others tried singing the instructions. But all that got them was a little applause and in one case, a recording contract. In the end, nothing changed — no one listened.
The answer arrived unexpectedly, on a cable news program. The guests were arguing, and one of them said, often, “I’m not racist, but…”. I noticed that when he did, the others paused, just long enough to hear how he wasn’t racist. I knew right then that the revolution in airline safety instruction was underway.
At first, management was skeptical of my new style, mostly, I think, because people don’t like change. Sure, this was edgy. I was going full-Monty, free-speech, in-your-face with these safety announcements. And maybe racism isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but lives hung in the balance.
They’re coming around because my results speak for themselves. Since I’ve added my preamble, the number of people who have drowned because they can’t find a flotation device has held steady at zero. A few vestigial pockets of opposition remain among the higher-ups, but now it’s just silly. Look, if I started by saying that I was racist, then I could understand the resistance. But I make sure to emphasize that I’m not racist. That’s good, right? Who wants a racist flight attendant? Not me, that’s for sure.
Do all the passengers appreciate my efforts on their behalf? No, like I said, people are crazy. Sometimes someone has something rude to say about the manner in which I’m saving lives. I’ve learned to just let it go, because once I start decreasing the level of oxygen in the cabin, the troublemakers just fall asleep. Quiets those noisy kids, too.
My new approach has had some knock-on benefits as well, including the amount of time it takes to empty a plane. Since I’ve started letting everyone know that I’m not a racist before every cabin announcement, whether I’m informing them which carousel their baggage will arrive on, or thanking them for choosing us over our competitors (who, by the way, don’t divulge whether or not they’re racist – just sayin’), 200 people have never exited a plane so fast. Even that recalcitrant who held us up during the boarding process seemed to gain some empathy during the flight; as soon as the door opened up at the gate, he just crawled out of the plane without making everyone wait for his wheelchair to arrive.
So go ahead and avert your eyes as you exit to the jetway, I’ll assume that you’re thanking me silently.