July 6, 2010

Oxygen Mask Failure

I had an... interesting.... discussion with a female family member this past weekend.

I mentioned how the show LOST has made me pay closer attention to in-flight safety instructions, because I am now convinced that my odds of survival depend on it.

But, I still don't feel confident in the procedures. Specifically, those little strings attached to the oxygen mask really freak me out. I'm afraid I won't get it right. Is it just a "tighten-for-comfort" thing, or will my precious oxygen escape into the cabin unless I create a vacuum tight seal around my face?

Then, this family member said, "Well, all I know is that you're supposed to put the mask on your kid first before you put it on yourself."

The room burst into laughter. We then incredulously explained that it was precisely the opposite action needed to keep her family alive.

She then reaffirmed, "Well, I would always choose my children over myself."

This was fascinating (and hilarious) on a million counts.

1) This member of my family has obviously not been paying attention on any of the roughly 100 flights she has taken in her lifetime.
2) After being presented with the actual information, her assumed truth overrode statistically relevant information, and she counted this as heroic.

She's heard the instructions countless times. But just assumes they're saying "save the kid before you help yourself" because that makes sense with every other lesson you learn as a parent.

Your takeaway:
When you're trying to teach someone something that isn't obvious, you have to make it absolutely obvious what you're doing.