For years I have half-listened to flight attendants warn that, in the event an aircraft should lose cabin pressure, oxygen masks will descend from the compartment above.
The warning is always followed by an illustration on how to put the yellow cup over your mouth and nose, secure it with the elastic band and breathe normally.
But it was a bit of shock when the compartment doors above opened simultaneously and the masks appeared before us on an otherwise smooth flight from Atlanta to Memphis last Wednesday afternoon.
We did as told and then sought to clear our ears as the plane descended quickly from 24,000 to 10,000 feet.
Some comfort came when the pilot said the two air conditioning units had blown but the engine was in sound working order.
A few minutes prior to the episode, I had detected an odd smell.
Though not a master mechanic, I drove enough clunkers in my youth to know that such oil-burning smells often lead to roadside assistance. But no one seemed to be concerned at that moment.
We made it on safely to Memphis via the low-altitude route. But the experience will cause me to pay more attention to warnings in the future.
Since 1966, cigarette manufacturers have been forced to print warnings about the health dangers of smoking. Yet I watch otherwise bright young people — born decades after the warnings first appeared — sucking away on the nicotine sticks.
Warnings — even about life and death matters — are often ignored.
False warnings abound as well — so it takes some discernment in life to know which ones to ignore and which ones to heed.
The Bible warns against many things like greed, selfishness, retained anger, unbelief, coveting, judgment of others and much more. These warning certainly deserve our close attention.
Usually I am reading a magazine or newspaper when the flight attendant gives emergency instructions prior to takeoff. Rarely have I “looked around to locate the nearest emergency exit” as suggested.
But I intend to pay closer attention in the future. In fact that may be exactly what a warning means: PAY ATTENTION!