I Should Have Prepared More

I had a moment today when I thought, “damn, I should have prepared more”.  I couldn’t help but laugh.  Sometimes even when we have the opportunity to prepare better, we simply choose not to do so.  I had an opportunity like that on a flight once.  Among all of my flights, I only recall experiencing two emergency landings; and of those two, only once was I in the emergency path.

I was sitting in the aisle seat of the three seats contributing to my side of the plane.  I didn’t know anyone around me, and frankly, was happy about that.  I put my headphones in and went trancelike (through the waiting on the tarmac, through the speeches and take off prep, and through most of the flight…).  At some point during the flight (but very near our destination) the pilot came onto the speakers, so I listened.  The gist of the speech was that we were circling in an attempt to get some part of the plane functioning (that must have been why we waited so long to take off).  The people around me started praying.  I put my headphones in my ears. 
The pilot came back on, so I listened.  At this point he indicated that the attempts for forcing a plane to be functional had failed and we were preparing for an emergency landing.  He indicated that we could land without whatever thing it was that we didn’t have, but, it was a risk.  I appreciated his honesty.  People around me prayed louder.  I thought, “damn, I should have prepared more...”.

I thought quickly about what I knew…verify belt latch tight and secure…items below seat secure…no water below, screw floatation devices…oxygen above, that when available I should give myself before assisting praying-woman-next-to-me (whose head was tucked between her knees, so she might miss the oxygen opportunity)…there is a door to my right I should study to verify I can open it when the two praying-people-next-to-me miss the opportunity… I should have looked at that emergency leaflet in the back of the seat in front of me…I really should have prepared more…too late now...just go with your instincts...
In the end, the plane came down safely amidst emergency vehicles on the runway.  There was no issue landing, we had a good pilot.  I learned that I retained a lot more information that I thought I did.  I learned that you can study a door well enough in a plane during an emergency landing to prepare yourself.  I also learned that I should prepare more (read that damn leaflet maybe).  So now, when I think, "I should have prepared more"...I laugh and think, "instincts".

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