Reflections from Rachel

I normally would not have paid any attention, but the inflight magazine was in Japanese so I had nothing better to do. I eased into my official Air Nippon Airways slippers and got comfy as the safety announcement began. The stewardess stood in front of me, dressed impeccably, with an amazing silk bow tied around her neck and a suit so well tailored it put the frumpy United uniforms to shame.

Before the announcement began the stewardess bowed deeply. Now she had my attention. It was like theater and she hadn’t even showed me how to buckle my seat belt yet. Each portion of the announcement came with its own set of precise gestures which somehow seemed entirely Japanese even though they weren’t really so foreign.

She demonstrated how to put on an oxygen mask without misplacing a single hair and did such a complete demonstration with the life vest that, for a split second, part of me wished for a water landing. The best part, though, was that when it came time for the English version she performed the exact same movements with as much conviction and grace as she did the first time around.

As the performance came to a close I thought about the Virgin America safety video which I have watched again and again, always managing the obligatory chuckle when the tech savvy nun has to turn off and stow her electronic devices. I guess one is not better or worse, but on that plane at 2am as the Ambien started to kick in, it all seemed rather profound. It wasn’t. It was just the same old safety announcement I’ve been hearing for years, droning on in the background as i thumb through the SkyMall catalogue. But that’s the great thing about adventure, I suppose. The mundane becomes brilliant and the things you take for granted are suddenly special again.

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