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Twin Sisters of Travel: Crisis & Lessons in Santa Monica

- Ethan F


Community and Crisis. Any seasoned traveler will know how to reconcile the two, will know that the two go hand in hand, will know that when crisis creates an upheaval in community, the latter attempts to reconstruct, to mend.

On my flight over to the west coast, I looked at a lone lady, mid 50’s, alone in the three-seat row over my left shoulder. She looked like she was in the throes of a nightmare, convulsing in her seat.

About five seconds went by, and another passenger said in a worried tone, “I think that woman is having a stroke.”

The flight attendants were called. They inspected the woman who was, in fact, having a seizure, a living nightmare. And a scene straight out of a movie unfolded. The flight attendants hurried to the front of the plane and addressed the passengers, saying over the phone, “Is there a doctor on board? If so, please press your overhead call button.” Five lights lit up. Five strangers got up from their seats and headed to the back of the plane.

They huddled around the passenger, who by that point was passed out. They checked her pulse, checked her blood pressure (one doctor from UCLA, had her stethoscope), and checked her overhead luggage for any seizure medication. The flight attendees brought saline, which they hung from nook in the overhead. She stabilized. We landed. All went well. The community healed.

Flash forward to my brother’s wedding, a few days after my flight to the west coast:

A family friend, Juan, passed out after wobbling back and forth and becoming incredibly pale. The may have been due to no real food in quite a while or perhaps low blood sugar. As soon as he did, my brother’s best friend, Mike–a hulking man, chief in the navy–bent over Juan, pointed at me and said forcefully, “You. Call 911.” I called and told the police that a man had just passed out at my brother’s wedding. They connected me to the ambulance who asked what was happening.

Luckily, by the time they patched me through, Juan had awoken. An Aunt told me to get bread. A friend told me to get water. I would have been a tad overwhelmed (this was deep into the night) if it wasn’t for the extremely helpful catering staff, who sprung into action as soon as they heard about Juan.

Bread. Water. Comfort. Subtlety. Juan was fine and the wedding continued marvelously. No one even know aside from Mike, my Aunt, and myself…and of course Juan.

Community growing. My brother and new sister enjoying their first dance as a one.

Community growing. My brother and new sister enjoying their first dance as a one.

Again. Community mends itself when crisis threatened its stability.

These are lessons all travelers will learn. They will learn about community. They will learn about the lurking crisis. They will learn how to recognize crisis. They will learn to be part of the mending process.




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