Do you ever have the feeling that you don’t know what’s really going on? People in this situation react in one of two ways; they either shrug their shoulders in complete indifference before following through with the bare facts they do have, or they press and dig until they’ve satisfied their own curiosity regarding the details about what is “really” going on. I’m one of the latter. A few months ago, I came to work and a crew of three of my co-workers met me at my boss’s door. They handed me a bag of balloons and said, “Here, blow these up.” Naturally I asked, “Why?” After several minutes of query and conversation, I learned that we were inflating the 746 balloons we’d calculated were required to fill our boss’s office from floor to ceiling, for no other reason than “because he was on vacation and we weren’t.” That was good enough for me.
Naturally, none of us wanted to repeat the entire explanation to every person who arrived that morning. Especially if you had to include an explanation of the math required to calculate how many elliptical spheres would be required to fill a 15’ x 15’ cubical space with a ceiling, accounting for deflation, etc. When the next person arrived and asked, I was the one who handed him a bag of balloons and said, “Here, blow these up.” To my complete surprise, he set down his briefcase, opened the bag, and started inflating without a single question at all!
I suppose we all have a different sense of curiosity about things. Others of us simply “trust” that we’ll be taken care of when we meander through various aspects of our infrastructure. Generally speaking, signs are posted, things run according to schedule, general safety is accounted for, and things pretty much take care of themselves as long as we move along and follow the instructions, right? Not always…
I’ve been flying long enough to know when I’m being told the truth on an aircraft (or in while waiting to board) and when I’m not. What do you do if you think you’re being lied to? After all, phrases like “We might see some slight bumps ahead” really means, “Turbulence” and “We’ll be slightly delayed before takeoff” really means, “We’ll be here for at least an hour since the union is on a break right now” and “we’re waiting for a few light rain showers to pass through” means, “the air-traffic controllers have packed us in way too tightly.” The airlines could write volumes about how to disguise relative or useful information by turning them into infantile, trite, meaningless words that seem to buzz, annoyingly, through the P.A. speakers.
I love the flight attendants on Southwest Airlines for varying their P.A. announcements with creative and insightful phrases like, “I’d like to welcome you to
So, what do you do the next time you want to know what’s really going on? It’s up to you to ask. Simply walk up to the gate agent and say, “Excuse me, but it’s very important for me to be in
I laughed when I came to work the next morning, because I could see the balloons through the 5th floor window from the street that approaches my office. My boss sat behind his desk for ? hour with a thumb-tack that morning, popping and popping and popping those balloons. He took it well. He never asked us, “Why” though…
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