“Wow, you’re the first person I’ve met who has been affected by COVID”.
“I’ve really enjoyed the extra time at home with my family and not having to travel as much for work.”
“I hope the borders just stay shut.”
“My company has actually had its biggest year and given its biggest bonus ever.”
Have people said anything similar to you? This is just a sample of the comments I have received in the last twelve months. Sometimes I felt like people had temporarily forgotten that I am (was?) an airline pilot.
At the same time as these upbeat remarks, airline employees have had no choice but to endure punch after punch. Through no fault of our own, we have lost incomes, routines, homes, plans, and security. Whilst others are enjoying a more relaxed pace of life and more time with family, many of us are working longer and spending less time at home as we scramble to find alternative work and earn enough to keep paying the bills.
Those who are still flying face multiple quarantine fortnights, in a time where there is concern about how harmful doing this just once can be to a person’s mental health. That crew are handling it so well is a testament to their resilience and shows why we have these people in the roles that they do.
As we now enter 2021 and I look back at last year, I have realised something quite helpful on one hand, because I have finally put my finger on it, but disheartening on the other: most people outside the industry don’t really care about how COVID impacts me. Because their own life has been unaffected (particularly here in Perth), they view minority industries such as the airlines as acceptable collateral in order to maintain “the greater good”.
In response I have three practical thoughts. Perhaps they help you too:
- The blokes in my Bible study have been an exception to all of the above. I have benefitted immensely from discussions and time with them and their genuine and practical care has been obvious. When we sold our house, 12 men from Bible Study showed up and moved all our stuff. If you don’t have a group like this, find one.
- Even if those outside don’t, other airline employees do care about me. The family feel of my company has never been more apparent than now. So don’t be a stranger to some people you know who are going through the same thing.
- Finally, when the fallout of COVID inevitably spreads further in the months and years ahead, airline employees will be in a position of experience to offer help. It’s not all about me and maybe others can be assisted by those who have gone before.
Yet there is still a more important point that must be made. My disappointment in people’s lack of concern reveals that I have been looking for comfort in the wrong places. This song was re-worked from a hymn in the wake of the 2011 shooting massacre in Norway. Its words remind us of the only person in whom we can find true hope and strength at all times, even in days like the ones we are now in.
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly trust in Jesus’ name
Christ alone, Cornerstone
Weak made strong in the Saviour’s love
Through the storm He is Lord, Lord of all
His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way
He then is all my Hope and Stay
He then is all my Hope and Stay