SOMETHING FOR NOTHING

When I was a small child, I lived in a housing complex in Rexdale, Ontario. It wasn’t a very nice area, but my mother did her best with what she had, and that was never very much. For having so little, I find it incredible that some things were in such abundance back then that seem lacking in today’s culture. I am talking about integrity, self-worth, and common decency.

Watching the happenings at Pearson International Airport last week, I was shocked to turn on our local news and see a plane on fire. I knew the layout of the airport like the back of my hand, and knew exactly where the plane was resting. Seeing the billowing smoke made my heart sink, wondering about the poor souls who were trapped and would obviously succumb to the smoke.

I can’t put into words my surprise when it was learned that all souls had made it off of the plane. It truly was a miracle. I commend the pilots of Flight 358, and their ability to land the plane in a severe storm, the quickness that the rescuers arrived on scene, something like 52 seconds, and the design of the airplane which allowed all to find safety.

It wasn’t long, however, before my elation was turned to cynicism. Shortly after the drama had ended, there was word of three people hiring a lawyer. Now there are two class action suits pending requesting $150 million in damages. The parties named in the class action suit include Air France, the Greater Toronto Airport Authority, NAV Canada, the two pilots, and Airbus. They are accused of negligence.

My first thoughts were, and still are, these. How can one put a monetary figure on one’s blessings? Should the survivors of this flight not simply be thankful that they are alive? I have never lived through this kind of ordeal, but I am sure of my morals. My last thought would be financial compensation. Call me stupid, but I was always taught to earn my money honestly.

I have been rear-ended in my car several times over the years, and most times I give the other driver a pass if there is no damage. I am acutely aware that there are some out there who would not give me the same consideration. They are greedy and selfish, and want to take whatever they can from whoever they can. It is their basic lack of morality shining through. I, however, was taught to be thoughtful. I am also aware that having someone bump into me is not the same as my plane going down, so you need not email me on that one.

I have heard some psychologists on the radio this week stating that some of these ‘victims?’ are looking for justice. Just what does making a lawyer rich and a plane ride more expensive have to do with justice? Have you ever heard a word more misused in your life? This isn’t about justice, it is about being thankful you weren’t melted into your seat.

While most of us would come out of this situation being sincerely thankful for walking, or even being carried, away from such an event, apparently all some can see are dollar signs. These people are truly the saddest examples.

While some incidents deserve litigation for the good of the plaintiff, such as a company selling a product that they know is unsafe, or through real negligence that causes people harm, some suits are just so flagrantly wrong.

Whenever I get on a plane, I realize that there is the chance something could go amiss. I expect a competent crew, but I do not expect perfection. Our society is under the impression that everything must be perfect. We are humans, and we err. When things go wrong, it does not automatically mean someone was negligent. People make mistakes. They always have and always will. It is too bad our first reflex is to always assign blame, instead of being grateful and thankful for our blessings and good fortunes.

The next time you watch a horrific event on television unfold before your eyes, consider the shock and horror that you feel. Then step away from your feelings and imagine yourself a lawyer trying to do a quick tally of how much you can make off of it.