Conversation Stoppers 102

I  should know better, I really should.

Lately I’ve spent too much time around people who are in terrible places in their lives – bad luck, bad choices, bad planning, and who knows what else.  And I think, “Oh, here’s what I’d do differently.”

But would I?  Could I?  Would I find myself on the same dead end street, unable to shift into reverse and pick a better route?  Who knows?

When I got on the puddle-jumper flight last week, my only thought when I climbed into my exit row seat was, “Ahhh, I can stretch my legs out.”

Then Angie showed up.  Angie was our flight attendant.  Angie had curly brown hair and was very, very pretty.  She also looked about 14 years old, reminding me of the unwelcome fact that airline pilots on regional commuter carriers earn something like $16,000 a year, and most likely need week-end jobs as bouncers to make ends meet.   I was hoping that Captain Joe, assisted by co-pilot Ashley, had, instead of working the local Tiki Bar, rested up over the week-end and were ready early Monday morning to fly across North Carolina alert and awake.

Angie came up to rows 11 and 12 – the exit rows – and looked at us solemnly.  She explained our important role and that she needed us to be ready, willing and able to give up our lives to help everyone, including that guy behind us – who was coughing and snorting flu germs all over us when he should have stayed home  – off the plane before we ourselves jumped ship.

She looked each one of us directly in the eye with her big doe eyes and told us that we needed to respond to her, in English and loud enough for her to hear, that we understood our roles and were willing to fulfill them.

Phew.  This was different than the usual ‘mumble mumble nod’ that I was used to when sitting in the exit row.

Angie was looking deep into my eyes.  And waiting.  Finally I said “Yes” and she nodded approvingly.

But, really?

I turned to my seatmate and said, “You know, we all said ‘yes,’ but I wonder, if push came to shove, how many of us would just try to be the first one off the plane?”

He looked at me like I was trying to steer the aircraft into the White House.  During the annual Easter egg hunt.  I think he was trying to decide whether to push the call button for Angie and have me removed from the plane, or at the very least from the exit row.

Instead, he went ‘mumble mumble’ and dove back, face first, into his Max Lucado book.  I never saw him again.

Screw it.  He can read all the damn devotional stuff he wants.  I still bet he’d be first off the plane ‘cause he’s closest to the window exit.

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