Thursday, January 22, 2009

The More You Know

It's unlikely that any of us will be in the fortunate/unfortunate situation of the US Airways Flight 1549 passengers last week (to me, they were fortunate—they survived; how many air accidents have that resolution?). I've never been one to hang onto every word of the flight attendants' opening monologue or closely scrutinize the Marcel Marceau reinforcement, but Catherine and I at least pay attention: partly out of politeness (they don't want to do these performances, they're required to do them, and I can stop reading and watch their 2-3 minute act) but also because if anything does go wrong, I'd like to have at least a vague idea of what I need to do.

An article in today's Times states that more people are now paying closer attention to these safety instructions, looking over the card (Catherine and I do this every time we fly but we're primarily mocking the pictograms, much like the author of this site) and gauging whether or not the person seated in the exit rows is up to the challenge (apparently this was almost an issue on 1549). In the aftermath of any big news story, of course, we're all suddenly hyper-aware of the lessons learned from the event: it never really enters our brains that the odds against the exact thing happening again—especially so soon afterward—are astronomically huge. On the other hand, if you think of it as an information booster shot—one that we may not need to access for a very long time, if ever—perhaps the knowledge will be easier to recall than if we hadn't put down the crossword puzzle in the winter of 2009.

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