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the word whisperer

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Flying Tales

I encountered this and thought some of these stories were kind of funny. Enjoy!

Occasionally, airline attendants make an effort to make the "in-flight safety lecture" and their other announcements a bit more entertaining. Here are some real examples that have been heard or reported:

1. From a Southwest Airlines employee: "There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but there are only 4 ways out of this airplane..."

2. Pilot: "Folks, we have reached our cruising altitude now, so I am going to switch the seat belt sign off. Feel free to move about as you wish, but please stay inside the plane until we land ... it's a bit cold outside, and if you walk on the wings it affects the flight pattern."

3. After landing: "Thank you for flying Delta Business Express. We hope you enjoyed giving us the business as much as we enjoyed taking you for a ride."

4. As the plane landed and was coming to a stop at Washington National, a lone voice comes over the loudspeaker: "Whoa, big fella. WHOA!"

5. After a particularly rough landing during thunderstorms in Memphis, a flight attendant on a Northwest flight announced: "Please take care when opening the overhead compartments because, after a landing like that, sure as hell everything has shifted."

6. From a Southwest Airlines employee: "Welcome aboard Southwest Flight XXX to YYY. To operate your seatbelt, insert the metal tab into the buckle, and pull tight. It works just like every other seatbelt and if you don't know how to operate one, you probably shouldn't be out in public unsupervised. In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will descend from the ceiling. Stop screaming, grab the mask, and pull it over your face. If you have a small child traveling with you, secure your mask before assisting with theirs. If you are traveling with two small children, decide now which one you love more."

7. "Weather at our destination is 50 degrees with some broken clouds, but they'll try to have them fixed before we arrive. Thank you, and remember, nobody loves you or your money, more than Southwest Airlines."

8. "Your seat cushions can be used for flotation and in the event of an emergency water
landing, please take them with our compliments."


1. "As you exit the plane, please make sure to gather all of your belongings. Anything left behind will be distributed evenly among the flight attendants. Please do not leave children or spouses."

2. "Last one off the plane must clean it."

3. Overheard on an American Airlines flight into Amarillo, Texas, on a particularly windy and bumpy day. During the final approach, the Captain was really having to fight it. After an extremely hard landing, the Flight Attendant came on the PA and announced, "Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Amarillo. Please remain in your seats with your seatbelts fastened while the Captain taxis what's left of our airplane to the gate!"

4. Another flight Attendant's comment on a less than perfect landing: "We ask you to please remain seated as Captain Kangaroo bounces us to the terminal."

5. An airline pilot wrote that on this particular flight he had hammered his ship into the runway really hard. The airline had a policy which required the first officer to stand at the door while the passengers exited, smile, and give them a "Thanks for flying XYZ airline." He said that in light of his bad landing, he had a hard time looking the passengers in the eye, thinking that someone would have a smart comment. Finally, everyone had gotten off except for this little old lady walking with a cane. She said, "Sonny, mind if I ask you a question?" "Why no, Ma'am," said the pilot, "what is it?" The little old lady said, "Did we land or were we shot down?"

6. After a real crusher of a landing in Phoenix, the Flight Attendant came on with, "Ladies and Gentlemen, please remain in your seats until Captain Crash and the Crew have brought the aircraft to a screeching halt up against the gate. And, once the tire smoke has cleared and the warning bells are silenced, we'll open the door and you can pick your way through the wreckage to the terminal."

7. Part of a Flight Attendant's arrival announcement: "We'd like to thank you folks for flying with us today. And, the next time you get the insane urge to go blasting through the skies in a pressurized metal tube, we hope you'll think of us here at US Airways."

8. From the pilot during his welcome message: "We are pleased to have some of the best flight attendants in the industry ... Unfortunately none of them are on this flight!"

The Muse Is My Companion

You walk down a gravel driveway. The tall trees reach out to touch each other with broad limbs. Their leaves rustle above you as you pass. Up the wide stone steps you tread. Facing a heavy oak door, you take a moment to breathe deeply before entering my world. You push firmly against the entrance - it opens soundlessly.

A lamp with electric candles hangs from the ceiling, and your mouth opens in awe of the beauty before you: a circular stairway of dark cherry invites you to explore the unknown. You notice antique wallpaper with velvet embroidering alongside the curves, perfectly preserved for nearly 200 years.

Up on the circular landing, you are surrounded with tall oak bookshelves, packed with books. You discover a great variety: from children's classics (Huckleberry Finn, At the Back of the North Wind, Black Beauty), to treasures of the English fiction (Thoreau, Bronte, Dickens). More than half consists of collections of Russian novels by the classic authors (Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Pushkin). At the top, you observe large books of art and imagine yourself browsing the colorful paintings of Leonardo Da Vinci. The Encyclopedia Britannica catches your glance, standing solidly in its 30 volumes, and you brush your fingers over the smooth black leather with gold lines. Toward the very end, you find reference books on mushrooms, herbs, and gardening, as well as an elegant version of "The Wine Maker's Treasury."

Light coming from a window leads you to a little desk, which you find burdened with the weight of schoolbooks or buried beneath scribbled papers waiting to be typed. The 14" iBook stands proudly in the center.

A low stand with three oak shelves presents a view to the most treasured books. Among them are collections of Bradbury, Tolkien, Lowell, and several biographies of Glenn Gould. You pull out an old hardcover anthology of Thomas Wolfe’s short stories and inhale the sweet smell of the yellowed pages. My parents, looking 25 years younger, gaze from a photo standing on the top; the watercolor of a rose hangs well above it; and a bunch of fragrant lavender from the garden lies upon a shelf.

Your eyes seriously focus as you try to make out something on the chair. Do not be afraid – it is I, a spirit of creation. Surrounded by the light of knowledge, inspired by imagination, I sit in peace with the Muse upon my shoulder, secluded from the busy rest of the house. There, I can rouse the thoughts that sleep within my soul and indulge in the experiences that authors had lain before me, unite them with my own.

The green old maple peeks through the window throughout the seasons. The sunshine brings happiness, and a swallow wakens life as it perches on the wires. Melancholy seeps in with the rains, and an exultation with the thunders. The spirit picks up the sleeping pen. It thinks, it feels, it writes.

Here, secluded in this little world, the Muse is my companion and Solitude my guide.

The Moon

What does the moon but shine these days?
Its smiling face and steady gaze,
Its roundness and its peaceful rays
Are all a call to keep good ways;
Then, when a shooting star goes by,
The moon reminds us from the sky
To make a wish; and don’t you try
To slight your neighbor who can’t fly,
For then the moon will hide the light
That shines upon the earth in white
And you will find no warm delight
In seeing clouds of gray and night
Edge the moon as a pillowed shield,
Shunning all, from road to field,
Daring then the ones who wield
Thoughts on which they once had reeled.
But to the others she is kind
And she respects a gentle mind
That doesn’t run away in blind
When something scares it from behind.
She likes to peek through frosty glass
And follow every evening class
To see how students strive to pass
The chemistry of air and gas.
She also looks around for those
Who strain their fragile little toes
To practice dance while music flows,
And how success at pirouettes grows.
At other times she listens well
To hear the little tinkling bell
That in musicians’ souls must dwell
And ring full strength inside heart’s dell.
On icons in a room her rays
Fall to reflect the coming phase
Of faith that makes all weekly days
More holy in correcting ways.
And yet, among her many cares,
She keeps in mind those who bring pray'rs,
Shields those of old and little years,
And journeys of all kind she shares.
In sparkling sky you’ll find her soon,
And sometimes at a blue high noon
A silver light will set a tune
And you will sing it for the moon

Adagio For Strings

When I hear the poignant Adagio for Strings, Op.11, by Samuel Barber, I associate the piece with the song of a lonely and gentle, suffering heart. The grave prolonged melodies of the beginning reflect a powerful, pulling-like tension that seeps into the very core of life. The finely-made contrasts are truthfully effective, and the intertwining lines are incredibly lush, representing a fully understood sorrow.

The melodies are like waves, gliding smoothly over each other, every one ending in a piercing question. Each note has its own meaning – a meaning of reality unanswered. Wide-arched and soul-torturing, the questions build up like painful anguish with gradual, increasing tenseness, leading into an overflowing climax that suddenly bursts into meditative silence.

After a long, beautiful pause, chords of despair echo quietly. As the piece returns to the initial melodies, the high notes of the violins seem to be sadly delicate as never before, like the sparkling gems of a shattered heart. The sufferer is left with nothing but what he started out with, yet he has lost all strength to go through the same process again. He cannot keep on bearing such a cruel burden of pressuring pain. With the last few notes of a tottering strain, emptiness falls, portraying the agonizing reality of the outcome. The latter is faced by all: the composer, the listeners, the performers, and by the music itself.

The Adagio for Strings reflects the distressing years of World War II, and each instrument seems to be a part of this misery: the violins pass on delicate emotions of a frail, beating heart; the lush voices of the violas reach deep into the fragile human soul with questions of anguish; the cellos’ expressions represent the torture of the soul and the despair that is brought about; and the double basses symbolize the strained, pressured burden, as well as the echo of the grave emptiness that follows.

The Adagio’s tender emotionalism goes straight to the heart, for it came forth from the living nucleus, and the finely-spun cantilena envelops the listener with poignant, frail pathos united with the harmonic opulence of sorrow.