Monday, September 25, 2006

What if it doesn't work?
(Imagine a lovely photo here)

My first assignment in the Air Force was in F-105 jet fighters, and one of the first things i did upon arriving at the base in Thailand was to get a parachute. The sargent who issued my chute looked to be about 14 years old. I remember him saying, "If this chute doesn't work, bring it back and I'll give you another one." Then he laughed good naturedly. I cringed inside and wondered, what if I need it and it doesn't work (the gray-haired sargent at parachute school had begun his lecture by telling us, "Gentlemen, the most common cause of death in a parachute accident is violent impact with the ground). It was all coming together in my mind.

This train of thought began a few moments ago when blogspot's picture-uploader failed to work...again, and I began to think of all the things we take for granted which, if they failed, could get us killed.

Breaks on the car, the air bag, the pilot staying awake, the trucker coming at us not being drunk, the hull that opens up 5 miles off shore, the paddle that snaps during a critical roll, etc. etc...

I guess I am more sensitive because (besides being a card-carrying pessimist...but I digress) I spent my work life in a career that allowed for little tolerance for shoddy work. Most crafstmen, should they not get it right the first time, can redo their work. I didn't have that luxury...just as the pilot and the prachute packer didn't. And if we were to screw up it would be others that would suffer the consequences of our shoddy work.

On the other hand, I just flew across the ocean--twice--in living room comfort while the flight crew flawlessly handled the huge aircraft. And in Thailand...we never lost a man because of the ejection seat or parachute failing. Matter of fact, I have done thousands of proceedures with precious few problems. Hmmm...maybe the photo thing will work tomorrow. Mean while, I'd avoid airplanes and parachute jumps, and--as always--

Paddle safe..

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