A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Europe…
Observations from across the pond.
It is hot.
For a country nestled in the Alps, we took a heatwave that developed over Southern California last week and brought it with us.
The Swiss… a group of very proud and patriotic fellows are also unbelievably nice…. they also have fantastic food.
This has less to do about this Swiss though, and more to do about the management of a crisis.
Our trip out here was a devastating disaster. I mean big time screw up. Not just the annoying little minor mistake that makes us irritable… but the flat out, biblical (I’m talking Old Testament style) colossal apocalypse that seriously questions your understanding of humanity.
It all started with an airline.
(If you have arrived here from our newsletter, continue reading here:)
Now before we get into this, let me explain why I am writing this. It is not to complain about our air carrier… what they gave us was actually something that provided a good teachable moment when it comes to defensive fighting:
Maintaining the flexibility to deal with the unexpected, and the realization that power abhors a vacuum. You might have the best weapons manipulations on the block… but unless you know how to control a situation that is fluid and see what needs to be done you will be defeated.
So what happened?
When our airline began flying to and from LAX they hired a ground crew to orchestrate ticketing operations. Ok, understandable. The problem is, that ground crew is outside of security. Once past the security checkpoint there are no individuals that are employed by WOW that can be found.
Our flight was supposed to depart at 12:40. We finally departed (wheels up) at 04:00… yep… that is right… a 16 hour delay.
Now, we knew that we would be having issues since we were supposed to make a connecting flight to Frankfurt. Well that flight left the gate before we had ever left Los Angeles… so we knew we were going to have to have some form help once we arrived in Iceland. Well, us… and the thirty or so other passengers that had to make connecting flights to all parts of Europe.
When we finally arrived and walked out of the plane we saw…. nothing.
No customer service personnel.
As we made our way towards baggage claim (I mean that seemed like a logical place to go right?) We saw a desk with a poor Islandic girl sitting behind it. I’m still not sure if she actually worked for for the airline or the airport… but she did say that we should get our luggage and then go to a sign that said “meeting spot.” and await further instructions.
Sandy and I were the first to get this information from her. The rest of the flight had formed a line behind us and one by one she gave this same information to each passenger.
We did get a bags (Woo Hoo!) Then it was on to the “meeting point” where someone in a suit holding a clipboard informed us that we would be taken to a hotel and had already been booked on continuation flights….. flights that were scheduled to leave tomorrow.
Ok.. fair enough. It was already like 21:00. As we got on the bus we were told that we would all be picked up in front of our hotel at 03:00 to come back to the airport.
Wow… early… ok. Well… where could the hotel be? I mean it is an airport hotel right?
Nope… our hotel was 1 hour away by bus.
Nice job guys.
While we were waiting for the luggage a stewardess that had been on our flight made the unfortunate mistake of wandering through the baggage claim area. Everyone wanted to complain to her and ask her what her company was going to do.
She did not have any answers. Not that she had them and was reluctant to be the one that gives out bad news… she really had no clue. Her company had kept her in the dark as much as us. She had no idea what management was capable or prepared to do.
The image of an Airline Employee unable to articulate a corporate response was mind boggling.
So… how does this relate to gun fighting of all things?
Well… first you need to look at the competency factor of the flight attendants and pilots. They did a good job. (I mean, we made it didn’t we?)… but they only did the good job on the jobs that they were specifically trained to do. Once something existed that did not fit on the established checklist they were befuddled.
In a gunfight… or any violent or potentially violent encounter there will not be a set series of protocols that can be triggered consecutively and fit neatly on a checklist. Sure… you can actively take steps to avoid conflict… you can set yourself up so that at any time you have altered the odds to your favor by standing in a certain place, focusing on a potential threat, etc. etc… but in the end once violence has been let out of the bag there will be an organic nature to the conflict. Things that you were sure would work won’t… and opportunities that never even occurred to you will be presented. There is an old adage: the first casualty of a war is the battle plan.
You need to be prepared for this, and actually train with this understanding. John… one of our LE instructors and a former Marine coined the phrase perfectly…. the “real” motto of the core: Semper Gumby…. always flexible.
There also needs to be the desire to take the initiative. This does not necessarily mean engaging with the enemy… it might… but typically we look to avoid conflict not seek it out. That does not mean that we cannot take the initiative and prepare our selves for battle… both figuratively and literally.
Hit the gym. Do those push ups. Work on that presentation and those magazine manipulations. Constantly be thinking tactically. But do not… ever… established a “script”. One procedure that
will work in all situations.
Embrace the fluidity of the situation and use the dynamics of battle to your favor.
That airline had competent people working for them… but they were not capable of seeing a problem that was unrelated to their specific job and doing something anyway. It remains to be seen if they will have the ability to survive the economic war that lays ahead of them.