As I write this, I’m on a flight northward. Every time I fly, I feel bad for the flight attendants. The reason for this is the fact that no one ever seems to pay any attention to them when they explain the safety instructions. I must admit, however, neither do I. Well, I do every once in a while, simply because I feel guilty (as well as feeling bad).
I remember the olden days when I seldom flew. At that time, I clung to every word they said—probably because I was sure my flight was the one that would go down. I wanted to make sure I had all the safety procedures as memorized as I could. After a few hundred flights (or however many I’ve taken over the years), I’m not quite so concerned. First of all, I don’t think my flight is the one that’s going down. Secondly, even if it did, I’m not sure any of those procedures would actually come in handy. Everyone would shift into panic mode, and we’d all forget everything anyway.
The whole tenor of the situation changes when the flight attendants are delivering the goodies. They announce that they’re about to traverse the aisle with their cart of delectable delights, and everyone is all about paying attention. I’m not exactly sure why that is, though. A soda and some pretzels are even less exciting than the safety instructions.
Sometimes I wish the attendants would just skip their little gyrations with the fake seatbelt and oxygen mask. I suppose there are laws and regulations that force them to go through the motions, but who cares? There is at least one airline (the name of which eludes me at this moment) that shows a video instead of putting the attendants through their game of charades. I’m always relieved when I see the video pop up. It means I don’t have to feign interest when the attendant’s eye catches mine.
It’s kind of like being in a worship service and mentally drifting off when the preacher is delivering the morning message. The big difference for me is the fact that I don’t do a crossword puzzle during worship like I do when I’m flying. That would really be embarrassing. Another difference is the additional fact that I’m often the preacher. I’ve never caught anyone doing a crossword puzzle during my sermon, but I get the sneaking suspicion some people are playing games on their cell phones. (Actually, that’s not true. I never have that suspicion. But, it might be true nonetheless.)
The Apostle Paul once preached a sermon that not only was boring, but it put a kid to sleep. The young man was sitting in a third story window, nodded off, and fell to the ground. That’s Biblical evidence that it’s important to pay attention—particularly when high altitudes are involved. The fact is, we should all pay better attention to each other. If we did, our world would be a better place.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]