According to an in-flight “steno,” “Shift happens.”
It’s one of the newest phrases in our North American lexicon, which came at the end of a stewardess’ safety spiel on a West Jet flight recently.
It was an entertaining spiel reminiscent of the fun days of flying with pillows on your lap, bringing your own booze and knowing everybody onboard, including the crew.
On one of these long-ago flights with props roaring, the stewardess finished her seatbelt spiel with, “and now if we’ll all flap our arms together maybe we can get this thing off the ground.”
Good memories shorten time: those six hours on a DC-6 from Whitehorse to Edmonton still seem shorter than two hours on some of today’s airlines.
Exceptions are still out there, though public scuttlebutt suggests they’re becoming few and far between. Our Air North is one still giving us good service, which should never become old fashioned, yet seems to be moving that way.
Can’t say about West Jet — yet — but e-mails from a retired West Jet pilot suggests they fly with a sense of humour, too. He was a good steno, maybe too good. I mean is he, are they, could they be, heaven forbid, advertising? Neat gimmick, if so.
Anyway here’s some of his steno work: “If we lose cabin pressure some baggy things like these will drop down over your head. Stick it over your nose and mouth like the flight attendant is doing now. The bag won’t inflate, but there’s oxygen there, I promise.
“If you’re sitting next to a small child, or someone who is acting like a small child, please do us all a favour and put on your mask first.
“If you are travelling with two or more children, please take a moment now to decide which one is your favourite. Help that one first and then work your way down.
“In the seat pocket in front of you is a pamphlet about the safety features of the plane. I usually use it as a fan when I’m having my own personal summer. It makes a pretty good fan. It also has pretty pictures. Please take it out and play with it now.”
Our ex-pilot steno quotes her closing the flight with this blurb: “Welcome to Vancouver International. Sorry about the bumpy landing. It’s not the captain’s fault. It’s not the copilot’s fault. It’s asphalt.
“Please remain seated until the plane is parked at the gate. At no time in history has a passenger beat a plane to the gate, so please don’t even try. Also, please be careful opening the overhead bins because ‘shift happens.’”
She’s either seen, or been told about, Karl Fisch’s six-minute blurb, Shift Happens, on You Tube. He spouts mind boggling and frightening statistics.
“During the course of this presentation 60 babies will be born in the United States, 244 in China and 355 in India.”
“Name this country: richest in the world; largest military; centre of world business and finance; strongest education system; world centre of innovation and inventions; currency the world standard of value and the highest standard of living: England in 1900.”
“Third generation fibre optics has recently been tested by both NEC and Alcatel that pushes 10 trillion bits per second down one strand of fibre. That’s 1,900 CDs, or 150 million phone calls every second. It’s tripling every six months.”
“Nintendo invested more than $140 million in research and innovation in 2002 alone. The US government spent less than half as much on research and innovation in education.”
“The amount of new technical information is doubling every two years. For students starting a four-year technical, or college degree, this means that half of what they learn in their first year of study will be outdated by their third year of study. It’s predicted to double every 72 hours by 2010.”
“China will soon become the No. 1 English-speaking country in the world.”
A tip of the hat to Lord Baden Powell (1857-1941) founder of the World Scout/Guide movement, leaving it the legacy of a fine motto we need consider: “Be Prepared!” When asked “Be prepared for what?” he replied, “Why, for any old thing.”
Fisch’s work suggests a lot of “any old things” are heading our way! Our leaders have wrapped themselves in green, and party politics, with seldom a peep about the fact that two countries alone have about 6,000 babies joining the rest of us on the planet every hour, of every day, non-stop. Yes, sir, the globe is warming in more ways than one.