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A Fresh Look At Flight Safety Instructions

Usually, the airplane boarding process feels like rote muscle memory: find seat, stow bags, sit down, fall asleep. But not this time.

I am on my way to Minneapolis and I’m not tired. So for the first time in a while, I find myself listening to the classic airplane safety monologue. The flight attendant instructs passengers “to insert the metal fitting into the buckle of your seat belt” and “to take a few moments to locate your nearest exit.” And of course, to “familiarize yourself with the flight safety instruction card that is found in the seat-back pocket.”

Boring, right? It seems some flight attendants have grown so weary of the spiel they’ve turned it into standup comedy. A few airlines have even jazzed things up, using snappy recordings or kitschy music videos to impart instructions — and, frankly, giving all of us a reason to reach for those barf bags.

Secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others: My guess is that this flight attendant turned therapist is suggesting that when I am under pressure I should take care of myself first — and breathe normally. Gina Shropshire, a psychotherapist in private practice and at the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis, agrees. “You can’t give to others,” she advises, “if you don’t take care of yourself.”
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