Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Read this book before your next flight: "The Survivors Club" by Ben Sherwood

I recently finished reading one of my train books that I brought to entertain me during my journey along the longest railway in the world.  The Survivors Club, New York Times best seller by Ben Sherwood, was enlightening, enthralling and extremely exciting.  How is that for alliteration?  The chapters attempt to answer the question “When disasters strike, who survives and who doesn’t?  Who is truly bound to be a member of the illustrious Survivors Club?”  Having a bit of what my mom called “wander lust” I figured this book would be a stellar piece of reading material to bring along just in case I get into any trouble along the way.  

Train Ride from Beijing
Since ringing in the New Year 2010, I have been on seven different flights (not including transfers and connecting flights) and still plan on taking five more before the next New Year’s kiss I receive. 

As I said earlier, I have been flying since before I can physically remember.  How is it then, than according to this book, I would be one of the first to perish if my airplane crashed?  After all, I have been on so many flights, I practically have the steward speech memorized.  Apparently, my over confidence is just my problem. 

You’re chances of dying in an airplane accident is one in sixty million.  “On average that means you could fly every day for the next 164,000 years before you would perish in a crash,” according to The Survivors Club.  In the unlikely event that you do get into an accident, there are specific precautions that can actually save your life.  For example, frequent flier status may actually work to my disadvantage – I would be one of those people who would be up all night with the thought, “I will just sleep on the plane tomorrow morning.”  I would be spacing out, as I recited in my head the safety speech.  I wouldn’t take into account where they emergency exits are, nor would I be awake during takeoff and landing, the two most critical times during a flight.  I might even go into shock if something did go wrong; after all, how many flights have I been on where nothing happened?

There are tips that this book taught me to always remember the next time I find my seat on the plane.  Never think that your life is out of your hands when flying; I know it can be easier to be a fatalist than accept the notion that not everyone perishes instantly if your plane crashes.  Always listen to the safety speech, sit within five seats of the emergency exit (during a plane crash, people only move on average five seats from where they were sitting), memorize an alternate route in case the exit is blocked, check for that silly looking life vest under your seat, never fall asleep during takeoff or landing, get moving even if the flight attendants are not capable of telling you what to do and, finally, do not panic.  My last bit of advice is to remember the chapter “Ninety Seconds to Save Your Life.”  If the plane is on fire, you have 90 seconds, rarely more, to get the heck off.
I will admit that I have a morbid personality, and I often describe myself as slightly obsessive, but this book was more hopefully than depressing.  There are so many amazing people in this world, who have suffered and thrived when confronted with challenges that are unfathomable to me.  As soon as I have more reliable Internet, I plan on taking the Survivors Profile test.  I will find out which of the five survivor archetypes I fit in and what my top survivor skills are. 

We are all survivors, but there are basic skills that we can learn and hone that may come into play on that fateful day when all hell breaks loose.  I highly recommend this book that has changed my outlook on life, and may just save yours. 


According to my online exam:

My main skills: PURPOSE, HOPE and RESILIENCE

Your Survivor Type: FIGHTER
Your Survivor IQ tells you precisely which kind you are. After analyzing your answers, it’s clear that you’re a Fighter. To deserve this description, you don’t have to punch like Muhammad Ali or refuse to surrender like John McCain. While fighters come in every size and shape, they share one critical trait: They attack adversity head on with purpose and determination. Against any odds, they’re driven to succeed and won’t stop till they achieve their goals. When you’re a Fighter, you never stop attacking. Even at your lowest, you still find a way to bounce back and counterpunch. You have a passion for life and seize every day with zest and zeal. You’ve got the willpower and determination to struggle, resist and overcome even in the face of formidable opposition. Maybe you’re courageous and brave. Maybe you’re aggressive and competitive. Maybe you’re stubborn and unyielding. No matter, you get pumped up by the heat of battle. You push yourself to be the best. You’re motivated by a sense of purpose or a calling greater than yourself. You’re here on earth for a reason that’s worth real sacrifice. You’re resilient, tenacious and often feel stronger because you’ve endured hardship in the past. When you get knocked down, you bounce back again. You’re indomitable, psychologically tough and you can endure more physical pain and suffering than most. You keep going when others have given up and you battle to the very end. Above all, you’re a Fighter. "
My initial reaction was to place myself into this category.  I am proud to be a fighter, and will continue to prepare myself for the day when I need to put my survivor skills to use.  Until then, I will continue to walk the streets at night, with vigilance in mind and switch blade in hand.

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