Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Can You Feel It?

By Marcus M. Mottley, Ph.D.

I was recently on a Southwest Airlines flight from Houston to Baltimore. We left Houston about forty minutes late and the pilot promised to make up some time on the normally three hours long flight. When he said that I knew that he meant that he intended to go faster than the speed limit! On Southwest Airlines, that is typical... their mentality is the reverse of well... LIAT. They strive to be always on time!

When we left Houston it was cold and rainy. About an hour into the flight... the seat belt light came on... and the pilot advised us that there was turbulence ahead. He was right!

Turbulence... that is not descriptive enough! It was rough. Up... down... sideways... Going up... going up... drop! Twist to the right... drop... twist to the left - bounce up! It was awful...

I looked around. People had the reading lights above their seats on. A couple of people were on their computers... Of course every now and then the computers would levitate and then slap back down to the seat-back tables while their fingers remained suspended in the air. Some people were reading... while others appeared to be sleeping!

That bumpy ride continued on and off for about an hour. When we thought that we had patched through to calmer skies... the bucking would start again.

But I couldn't understand the calmness of the people! Then it hit me... This was Texas... Cowboys and rodeo riders! They were accustomed to wild rides on bucking horse and snorting bulls!

Of course that was not it. You see... I left out one detail. Every ten minutes or so... the captain would announce how much longer he thought we would be enduring this ride... and of course he got it wrong several times... and each time he would come back on and give us an update. "There are several planes ahead of us... and they are reporting that the turbulence will continue for just a little longer!"

The flight attendants did their part. The captain had instructed them to remain seated and buckled in! Yet, every now and then they would get up... hold  on to the seats... and go down the aisle to rub a shoulder... make an encouraging remark to a crying toddler... the kinds of stuff that you don't see on American Airlines... But then this is Southwest Airlines well known for singing, dancing, comedic flight attendants and pilots!

On this night, we could feel the pilot's presence. We felt his efforts to keep the plane stable. He kept connected to us. He gave us regular updates. He made a few light-hearted remarks. He updated us on the weather in Baltimore. He told us that although we were having a rough ride - that we would eventually reach Baltimore only fifteen minutes later than scheduled (Meaning that he was still breaking the speed limit!). He told us what the weather in Baltimore was.. and even commented on a major basketball game that was currently being played (people applauded when they heard the score!).

Eventually, the ride smoothed out... and we did land in Baltimore at the time he had indicated.

The ride was bumpy... turbulent... but it wasn't frightening. Why? Because of the leadership of the pilot. We felt his presence. We felt the presence of his team. He kept us informed about current events. He kept us connected to our destination... He stayed connected to us!

I felt him... I felt his control over the situation... I wasn't overly concerned... This guy and his team were in full control over the situation!

Here are my questions to you, as we think of Antigua and Barbuda - can you feel it?

Things are bumpy now. High levels of crime and a depressing economic situation are only two of the many deep problems we have! But, can you feel the Captain and his team? What's the plan? Do you know where we are going?  Do you know how we are going to get there?  Do you think we are given timely updates?  Do you have a sense of how things are going? Do you feel safe and secure? Are we in good hands? Are you worried?

Can you feel it?