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Pastor's Piece

The Pastor's Piece 5/12/2024

By Kevin Cernek, FCFI Chaplain

a small plane flying through a blue sky

FCFI May 12, 2024


One always meets some very interesting characters when traveling. My wife and I do our fair share of traveling at this stage of our lives. We have family that live in all parts of the United States. Besides Wisconsin, we have family in Tennessee, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Wyoming, Kansas, Colorado, Alabama, Louisiana, and Montana. We’ve been to most or all of those places to visit at one time or another. Sometimes we drive. And other times we fly. It just depends on the situation and time factor involved. Some people are adamant about not flying. They hate airports and congested areas. Or they don’t like giving up the independence of having their own vehicle and setting their own time schedules. I say there are advantages to both driving and flying. Recently, we had the joy of airports, delays, weather, and a variety of people. We flew out of Madison, Wisconsin on a small puddle jumper that carried about 20 people. My wife and I were assigned to sit in the last row on the plane. There were two flight attendants on this flight, one at the front and one at the back. It was a very short flight- maybe 30 minutes. Just before take-off, the flight attendant near us, pushed down a fold-up seat and literally sat down between my wife and I. She chatted away the whole 30 minutes. She told us how she was from Portland, Oregon and had taught school for 25 years and then retired. Retired life wasn’t for her so a year ago she decided to become a flight attendant. There was a one month training period and then she was good to go. She told us how one of her fellow flight attendant students was over 70 years old, but he passed the course and was happily flying the friendly skies. Her and my wife talked about grandbabies- sizes, weights, and all. By the time we landed 30 minutes later, we had made a new friend. After we landed, we switched planes and prepared for the second leg of our journey. We were all strapped in our seats and waiting for the plane to be pushed back from the terminal so it could make the trek out to the runway. As we sat there, suddenly a man hurried past and went into the restroom at the rear of the plane. The next thing we knew there was a big commotion some raised voices and the guy was being escorted off the plane. Turns out, he went in there to vape- which is a big no-no on an airplane. My thinking is, “Ok. Tell him not to do that again and let’s get this thing in the air.” But nothing is that simple. By the size of the commotion and the alleged seriousness of the infraction, I’m assuming that the poor man spent at least one night in jail. The next thing we knew, a couple of airplane maintenance guys were on the plane. The captain came over the intercom and said we have a “slight delay” but we should be in the air in 10 minutes. A half hour later he comes back on and says they’re finishing up some paperwork and we’ll be ready to go in “about ten minutes.” Forty-five minutes later, we backed away from the terminal and eventually took off and arrived at our destination five hours past our original arrival time. It took an hour and twenty-five minutes for maintenance to reset the smoke detector in the restroom, do the paperwork, and then finally the pilot received clearance to continue. The time delay didn’t matter that much to us because we had all day to get where we were going. It was more inconvenient than anything, but logic and common sense seem to have given way to regulation and red tape. I mean, if a smoke detector goes off in your house, you get out a step stool and climb up and push the reset button. Then you go about your day as if nothing happened. I get that passenger safety is job one for an airline, but I believe there are different degrees of importance on certain things. If an engine burned out, ok, an hour and half delay and a ton of paperwork might be necessary. But pushing a reset button? Literally, that’s all they did. People from every part of the world congregate in airports. As one watches all the hustle and bustle, you can’t help but wonder where everyone is coming from and where they are going and what’s the big hurry? A few hours later at home, we laid our heads down on our pillows, our lives enriched by the whole experience. Life is good. “I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him,” (Ecclesiastes 3:14). (Kevin Cernek is Lead Pastor of Martintown Community Church in Martintown, Wisconsin)