Wednesday, May 5, 2010

My Last Flight?

Sue Shuman's granddaughter attends McPherson College, so we're naturally interested in happenings in and around her school. Recently Michael Schneider, President of McPherson College, returned from a business trip and wrote about it in his blog. His experience is both poignant and uplifting. I thought you'd enjoy reading about it, too. With his kind permission, his account follows:

I was on a flight from Des Moines to Chicago early last week. I was seated next to a 7 year old girl—this was her first flight. Her name was Erin. She had the middle seat. I was in the aisle. There was a teenager next to her in the window seat. He was asleep. The weather was stormy. Rain pounded the tarmac prior to take-off. She was a little nervous, but excited. The climb to altitude was bumpy, but it didn’t stop me from scratching notes in my moleskin notebook. Then the bad stuff hit. The lightening was so bad it seemed to shake the plane with each flash. The lights in the cabin went off and the pilot came over the intercom to announce that the flight attendants would not be offering beverage service as they “needed to stay strapped in for the duration of the 47 minute flight.” The guy across the aisle and up one row looked green. The bumps got more severe and frequent. Erin told me she didn’t like roller coasters. I told her I didn’t either. I asked her if she was going to throw up. She said no. I was relieved. I tried to keep her mind off the ride by telling her a silly story about my first plane ride. It kind of worked.

The turbulence lasted about 30 minutes into the flight when the bumps stopped and it was smooth. This only lasted a couple minutes before the pilot came over the intercom again. Let me pass along some advice—when your pilot says, “hang on” you should make sure you have your seat belt on. He barely finished his “stay in your seats” speech when the plane dropped and we banked sharply. We were back on the coaster—this time with oxygen masks. Now, I’ve probably been on 300 flights in my life and I thought those things were a myth. You’re probably unconscious if a bunch of yellow masks hanging down from the ceiling of an airplane won’t get you a little excited. But of course there was still some guy wearing half eyes a couple rows up reading his Wall Street Journal and the kid in the window seat next to Erin was still asleep. Anyway, I put my mask on and helped Erin with hers just like they tell you to do. By this time Erin has a pretty firm grasp on my forearm. She is terrified. And the plane dropped again. Then it happened. The lady right in front of me stood up and yelled, “we’re all gonna die.” (I thought I was in a sitcom.) The pilot came over the intercom and said in a cool voice, “Flight attendants please prepare the cabin for landing. We will be on the ground in 5 minutes.” What? I felt pretty “prepared” considering I was lit-up with O2 and my arm was wrapped around the arm rest. You could hear the landing gear coming out and within a couple minutes we were on the ground at O’Hare.

We were safe. Our wheels were on the ground. (Our friend in the isle seat was still asleep.) I helped Erin get her mask off. Then she looked at me and said, “I think I will do something fun today.” Amazing. She got it. We were lucky to be okay. We should do something fun. As I sat in Concourse C waiting on my connection to Wichita, I was struck with the feeling that I had lost some perspective. So, I penned a list of things to do. The list reads something like this:

“Say Yes to becoming a co-advisor for a Freshman Seminar Group at MC.”
“Host a Murder Mystery Party for Kandee’s birthday.”
“Sign up for those surfing lessons.”
“Bring our cat, Snickers, to Hayden’s class for show and tell on Friday.”
“Take a day off.”

Erin, thanks for helping me see things a little more clearly. Life is always interesting.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home