A Lesson from the Beach

At low tide, a small boy was walking along a beach where thousands of starfish were washed up, stranded and doomed to perish. A man watched as the boy picked up the starfish one at a time and placed them back in the water.

“I can see you are being very kind,” said the man, “but there must be a million of them. What you are doing can’t possibly make any difference.”

Returning from the water’s edge, the boy said, “It made a difference to that one.”

The moral of that story is how easy it is for us to assume that something does not matter simply because you see so much of it. Indifference is rude and has no place when we are working on aircraft and talking with our fellow workers, supervisors and our customers in particular.

Think of the traffic cop who indifferently hands us a ticket. When we see the ticket, we know it will cost $100 that we don’t have and we might not know how we will pay for it. Think of the doctor who checks on someone’s sick mother lying in a hospital bed; they doctor might, with apparent indifference, barely acknowledge her and leave quickly.

Think of yourself! It’s not just police officers and doctors who are indifferent. It can creep into any office, profession or life.

There is never a good reason for indifference, but it is more understandable in certain conditions. Perhaps the indifferent person has a loved one who just died, or their child is ill. The danger of indifference appears when it becomes an attitude — an attitude that can spread like a virus and infect everyone in the workplace.

If I had a multi-million dollar aircraft, I would not want to have maintenance performed on it by a group of people who are indifferent to what they do and how they do it. I deliberately left out the word “professionals,” as I don’t want to believe that real aviation maintenance professionals would work on anything with an indifferent attitude.

I am not saying that we should never feel indifferent. Sometimes it just sneaks up on us. We are products of how we were raised, what we have learned, what we want to accept and reject and our life experiences. However, as aviation maintenance professionals, there is absolutely no place for indifference where we work. We need to apply our skills 110 percent. There is zero tolerance for indifference while working on aircraft. I would not want to have open heart surgery performed by a doctor who was indifferent to what he or she was doing while operating on me.

Years ago, while I was conducting avionics training classes for customers around the world, I would conclude one of my presentations with a slide that read, “Your customers are not an interruption to your business, they are the reason for it.”

When you interact with your customers or anyone, for that matter, remember the little boy on the beach and the starfish. Make a difference!

On another note, this issue will be distributed at the Airborne Law Enforcement (ALEA) conference July 17-20 in Orlando, FL. HeliMxwill exhibit at the show. If you are going to be there, we invite you to stop by booth 659 and say hello. We welcome your feedback and article suggestions.

Each year, I like to feature several law enforcement organizations for the June/July issue. Since the magazine goes to the ALEA conference, it is an appropriate theme to have. This year, I lined up the articles I was going to do more than six months ago. The articles had been written and approved by late April. The HeliMxteam picked the cover photo at that time as well. Little did we know the significance one of the articles and the cover shot would have.

You see, one of the articles I had planned was on the Oklahoma City Police Department (OCPD). As I write this column, it has been a little more than one week since the Moore, OK, F5 tornado that killed many and created a path of destruction that affected a large number of homes and businesses. Three days ago, a second round of tornados swept through the area, causing more deaths and damage and even killing three tornado chasers.

I sent a note to Darla Woodruff, my contact at the OCPD. I told her that like most Americans, the HeliMx staff is at a loss for words regarding the horrific destruction that massive tornados caused to Moore and the surrounding area. I expressed our hope that she and the rest of the OCPD did not suffer any personal harm, and that all were well under the circumstances. I also shared the news that we had chosen the OCPD to be on the cover of this issue.

Woodruff replied, saying, “That is wonderful. Thank you so much for the opportunity to be a part of the article. Also, thank you for the kind words about our cities and the aftermath of the tornado. It was and still is pretty devastating but people are pulling together like they always do to take care of everything. It is nice to be an American!”

All law enforcement professionals put their lives on the line each day to keep us safe. In some situations, they go above and beyond the call of duty.

Let’s celebrate all that airborne law enforcement agencies do to support those on the ground and to keep us safe!

Enjoy the issue!