Plane Malfunctions :: Thoughts On Our Delusions Of Self-Importance

On Saturday, I’m headed out with a team from my church to assist in running a camp for kids in a pretty remote part of Alaska…well, what part of Alaska isn’t pretty remote. Anyway, it should be a blast. I was just thinking that this will be my first plane flight without the kids in a very long time. I used to love flying. It used to be such a relaxing experience… nothing you have to do, no distractions. Just sitting there. I like just sitting there. It’s probably one of my favorite pastimes. Anyway, if you have ever had the joy of flying with infants, toddlers or any combination thereof than you know that plane flights no longer carry the same appeal that they used to. I love my kids, but I’m really looking forward a flight that doesn’t involve hundreds of crushed up goldfish crackers in my lap, drinks spilled on my shirt, hours of balancing some movie-playing device in just the perfect position so that both kids can see the screen, judgmental stares from other passengers who hate children, becoming a human play gym and the many other things that make being confined to small spaces with kids so awesome. The last time I had the joy of flying by myself (about 6 years ago, I think) it was unfortunately cut short by a plane malfunction. Here’s the journal entry I wrote from the airport…


I just had my flight cancelled for mechanical malfunctions. We were all sitting quietly, anxiously awaiting the slightly nauseating initial movements of the plane. When all of a sudden, a very calm voice came over the intercom instructing us, in as polite a way as possible, to get off of the plane because it’s all jacked up. So, after much turmoil about refunded tickets and reclaiming baggage (that somehow ended up jetting across the country anyway), here I sit…in the terminal…waiting for Erin to bring me keys to the car (mine are in the aforementioned airborne baggage).

Honestly, this really isn’t a big deal for me. A change in plans is okay every once in a while, it keeps me on my toes. But, here’s what troubles me. So many people are still freakin’ out about it. I mean, I understand the frustration of getting your plans screwed around with, but it’s certainly not worth devaluing people on such a grand scale as I’m witnessing right now. Haha…they just paged someone named “Schmell Mahami.” Maybe it’s only funny if you hear it pronounced. Well anyway, I feel bad for the employees in situations like this.  They didn’t sabotage the plane or make up a false incident just to watch your reaction to it. They just got up and came to work like everybody else does and something went wrong. It’s so easy to dehumanize people when they’re wearing a uniform.  We need someone to blame for our inconvenience so we pick the poor girl who is dressed in a similar color scheme to the broken plane and let her have it. It’s staggering how self-centered we can be, particularly when we’re under stress.

What’s even more fascinating is how angry it made people that we were forced to get off of the plane at all. To be honest, I’m pretty happy about it.  I actually want to find the guy responsible for getting us off the plane and thank him for not sending us up 20,000 feet into the air in a malfunctioning, winged tube of death.  You would think that some of these people would rather be on the plane as it crashes, than to be inconvenienced in such an outrageous way by being asked to get off beforehand. It’s quite a scene in here.

Why can’t we just accept that the unexpected is an inevitable part of life? Why do we have such an ingrained mentality of entitlement that when something doesn’t go the way we think it should, we loose all common sense and decency and for all intense and purposes, throw a fit like a two-year old? Have we really convinced ourselves that we have that much  control over our lives? Have we forgotten that we are one of many specs of life on the surface of a very large mass of dirt and water spinning through space? In a universe so infinitely large that even what we have seen of it, makes our planet look like a piece of dust.  What about your situation makes you think that all the pins should line up for you all of the time? I mean, we should be more amazed when something does go like we planned.

I guess I kind of expect these types of reactions from someone who is not a Christ follower. But, I’ve seen the same ugly faces surface in Christian circles, even within the walls of church buildings. And, maybe I shouldn’t, but I really expect more from us. You’d think we’d be able to keep things in a little better perspective knowing that the God we claim to know personally holds that entire universe that we were just talking about in the palm of his hand. And that this unexpected tragedy that just blindsided us didn’t actually blind side Him.  In fact, Job tells us “should we receive good at the hand of the lord and not evil.” The truth is, God is all up in the spontaneous things that happen to us.  So, if you want to throw a temper tantrum in somebody’s face, leave the uniformed people alone and take it up with Him. I’m willing to bet you would choose your tone and your words a little more carefully.  Not quite so full of your own self-importance.  In fact, you’d probably just thank him for re-routing your day and quietly have a seat.  And that’s probably what you should have done in the first place.

By the way, it seems that “Schmell” is quite the hard chap to catch up with, they’ve paged him 5 times to no avail. And it’s still funny… every time.

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