‘This is your captain speaking. I see lightning on the horizon, so I’ll delay our take off until it passes. We’ll put the inflight entertainment on in the meantime, as we anticipate a delay of about 30 minutes.’
A huge groan came from the passengers of Flight 625. A woman snapped at the flight attendant, a man two rows back complained, loudly. The guy beside me was particularly peeved. ‘Bloody ridiculous’ he moaned. ‘Unbelievable.’
Clearly, he and the pilot were not dealing with the same reality.
Listening to the man in seat 12B, he understood the options as:
a) Take off on time and fly safely to our destination (just like in the ads)
b) Sit through an old episode of Big Bang Theory.
Now, given those choices I’d happily pick Option A (with the suspicion that Option B was probably inevitable once we’re in the air). But the pilot seemed to think that the situation had changed: not only Option A was off the table but Option C was now in play, so our choice was between:
b) Big Bang Theory, or
c) Electrocution at 30,000 ft.
Even if he wasn’t a fan of the show he’d have to admit it’s still better than electric death, so it’s a simple choice between tedium and tragedy. It’s a no-brainer, the kind of decision you just make and get on with.
The key to good decision making is to know exactly which options are (and which are not) on offer. By clinging to what is now a ‘non-option’ Seat 12B thinks: ‘This isn’t really happening. I reject this new reality and demand to have my plans fulfilled just as I imagined them.’
By letting go of the schedule, the pilot thinks: ‘Ok, this is a new situation. These are my new choices. I pick the least worst one.’
Maybe that’s why Seat 12B doesn’t get to fly the plane, and why I get to survive to write this.