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United’s Safety Concerns, Cherry Blossoms and the Words for Work: What We’re Reading This Week

March 22, 2024
A look at some safety-related news of note.

I was in an exercise class recently where the instructor told us to breathe in and breathe out. It wasn’t until I exhaled that I realized how long I had been holding my breath.

She joked that our body will often default to our survival instincts. And yeah, when you’re really challenging yourself and trying to maintain a strong form, you may feel like you’re in survival mode. But you’re not.

This was a good reminder for me to stop and literally take a breath. It’s so easy for me to get overwhelmed when I have a long to-do list, I’m getting a barrage of messages or I’m multitasking to the max. Funnily enough, that’s exactly the moment that I need to stop what I’m doing, inhale for a count of 1-2-3-4-5 and exhale to a count of 1-2-3-4-5 until I feel my body relax.

You’re in a position where you constantly need to give to others. Well, consider this your reminder to fill up your own cup first so that you have the energy to keep helping others.

Until next time, be well and be safe!

United’s Safety Concerns

In February, I wrote about Boeing’s ongoing safety concerns. This week, I’m writing about United Airlines. There have been eight incidents in two weeks on flights operated by United Airlines, five of which involved airplanes made by Boeing. Thankfully, no injuries were reported, but they add to the spate of news about the aviation industry.

The incidents prompted CEO Scott Kirby to send out an email to United customers detailing the airline’s work culture and safety practices. Kirby noted that pilots will be taking an extra day of training and announced a centralized training platform for new maintenance technicians.

Kyra Dempsey, who writes about aviation accident for the blog Admiral Cloudberg, told The New York Times that United’s recent issues were being “falsely conflated with Boeing’s troubles.”

“While it’s bad luck that United had so many incidents in such a short period, in general such incidents happen frequently around the world, and they aren’t on the rise overall,” Dempsy said.

She’s right to remind people not to jump to conclusions. In a March 4 incident, a Boeing 737-900 had to return to the airport to make an emergency landing after one of the plane engines ingested and burned plastic wrap.

The pilots did a fantastic job of safely landing the plane, and the in-flight and ground crews made sure all passengers were safe. But it’s still scary.

You might not work in the aerospace industry, and you (like me) may not understand what some of United’s plane malfunctions were, but I think we can all understand that we don’t want to put ourselves or our colleagues or our clients at risk during the normal course of business. It’s nice to see a company sharing what steps they are taking in response to recent events.

You can read more about United’s bumpy month here.

Cherry Blossoms and Climate Change

Several years, I arranged a trip to meet up with some friends in Washington, D.C. to see the Cherry Blossoms. We pre-purchased a cruise around the Tidal Basin, but the week before there was a bad rainstorm, and the petals fell off.

D.C.-based NPR shared the news that the Tidal Basin is experiencing the effects of climate change, and 158 cherry trees will need to be cut down. A combination of sinking land around the basin and rising water levels causes the basin to flood twice daily at high tide. Some of the cherry trees have water lapping at exposed roots, while others are covered; many park benches and some paths are partially submerged.

The National Park Service estimates that the average peak bloom date has moved up a week in recent years due to a warming climate. The park service will start a $113 million project later this spring to raise portions of the walkway around the basin and along the Potomac River. Some of the roughly 2,500 trees along the water will need to be removed, including Stumpy who has bloomed despite the odds.

Learn more and see a photo of Stumpy here.

New Ways to Describe Work

The past four years have gone by so slowly (remember those hours of refreshing your phone to see the latest news?) and surprisingly fast (“I last ate at that restaurant before the pandemic, which was probably 2019”).

I was reminded of how much business has changed when I saw this article from The L.A. Times about our new workplace lexicon.

For example, the term quiet quitting is new but “[t]his idea of disliking your boss and hating your job is as old as time,” said Eric Anicich, associate professor of management and organization at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business to The L.A. Times. “Now we have a certain language for it, and there’s a certain way of tapping into a community of people who feel the same way that we haven’t had in the past.”

It’s easy to dismiss these terms (or the workers that can be described by these terms) as trite, lazy, greedy, entitled, etc. But these terms describe a common situation or collective emotional sentiment. Such is the power of language.

Authors Samantha Masunaga and Sean Greene do a masterful job of interweaving terminology and business experts, such as Anicich, as well as telling the lived experiences of workers. Polywork, the practice of holding multiple jobs, seems to be discussed with disdain. But Masunaga and Greene remind us that many people, particularly hourly wage workers, often have multiple jobs or pull doubles so they can pay rent and buy groceries.

So much of our experience is shaped by our perception—and how we communicate them. Words can take on positive or negative connotations based on the zeitgeist. This article was a good reminder, at least for me, to be more intentional about the words I use and to consider other peoples’ experiences before speaking.

Read this living history of working in America here.

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