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Opinions of Monday, 17 January 2011

Columnist: Ato Kwamena Dadzie

Delayed Take-off

So, you’ve been privileged to be made captain in an aircraft. The previous pilot wasn’t doing a particularly good job even though he felt he deserved adulation for being able to navigate the plane through some turbulence. He was so full of himself that at some point he decided to buy himself a gold medallion.

“If no one sees the good I’ve done, I do,” he said. I’d reward myself.”

The passengers were not as impressed by his efforts as he was with himself.

So when the time came for him to land the plane, the passengers decided that they would not allow the co-pilot he had anointed to take over from him to handle the plane. You see, he had failed to take the plane anywhere near where the passengers needed to be and it was felt that there was no need to take any chances with his co-pilot.

That was when you came in. Against all odds, the passengers reposed an appreciable amount of confidence in you. It wasn’t unanimous but it was good enough to take you into the cockpit.

There were suggestions that you were not in very good health and that if you were allowed to be captain of the plane you might suffer an epileptic attack that could make you lose control and crash the aircraft into some mountain somewhere. You conceded with humility that you had a “problems with vision” but assured that you were well able to take the passengers to where they needed to be – as close as possible to the promised land; the land flowing with milk and honey, where even the children walking the streets in tattered ‘pieto’ would be brimming with hope for the future.

You were told that your leg of the journey would take four hours. If after the four hours, passengers and shareholders felt you were doing a good job navigating the aircraft and riding smoothly through turbulence, they would be inclined to allow you four more hours in the cockpit.

You pick your crew. A good number of them do not seem to know what they are about. You also seem a bit clueless.

You start looking for someone to blame. You claim the previous pilot left the aircraft in pretty terrible condition and you are doing all you can to put it in flying condition. You seem to forget that the moment you entered the cockpit, you were told you had four hours to take the passengers as close as possible to where they needed to be.

But you just sat there in the plane, fidgeting with the buttons and constantly complaining about the previous pilot. Suddenly, two hours have passed and you are still on the ground – taxiing. You’ve been taxiing for two good hours and you are running out of fuel. All you can tell your agitated passengers is that the plane is ready for take-off. Really? And you think they should be impressed? Do you think you can take the passengers anywhere near where they should be?

Saying that you are ready for take-off has sparked a wave of anger that could only add to the weight of the aircraft. There is a lot of murmuring in the main cabin. The only ones who are not complaining are your friends and cronies who are in the first class cabin. Of course, they are eating choice meat and drinking the finest wine. No one expects them to complaining. They think you are doing a good job – at least with the taxiing. Whether you take off or not, they have enjoyed whatever you’d call the flight.

But those in ‘ecomini’ class are mighty pissed.

They know you have almost squandered the opportunity they gave you to make a difference; you’ve wasted their time. Two hours after you entered the cockpit, they are not any nearer the Promised Land than they were when the previous pilot and his crew were kicked out. All they are saying is that they can’t wait to kick you out of the cockpit.

What are you going to do?

Go down on your knees and start praying. You need a miracle. Pity. Those things are hard to come by these days.

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