Posts Tagged ‘hysteria’

Somebody threw up here

March 19, 2008

No this is not the intro to another South Park episode. Yesterday I was on a short flight from Nashville to Cincinnati.  I had just gotten settled in my seat when a couple sitting directly across from me began complaining to each other that with their excessive carryon luggage they were cramped in their seats.  They then called the flight attendant back and stated rather loudly that it smelled like someone had vomited in their seat.  The attendant was gracious in listening and offered to allow them to move.  They quickly stated they would like the two vacant seats in the very front of the airplane. 

I’m convinced they simply wanted to move.  But immediately other passengers began to notice the foul smell as well.  The flight attendant returned with some great smelling air freshener – and allowed a few other people to move where they wanted.  I then had an entire row of seats all to myself – plenty of room to spread out and work – and never could detect the slightest unpleasant odor of any kind. 

Then I opened my copy of USA Today to see the front page headlines: 

3 in 4 think USA is in a recession.   Could it be the same effect with little more basis in reality?

Do you remember the time a few years ago when a little girl in a school in Florida complained that her sandwich didn’t taste right; she felt nauseated, and came back from the restroom reporting that she had thrown up.  Within 40 minutes, 63 children were sick – more than 25 had vomited.  Ambulances were called and the children had to be divided up among three different hospitals.  But within an hour it wall all over.  Every examination and test performed on the children showed nothing abnormal.  The sandwiches were analyzed and everything was fine.  No one became ill at the 68 other sites at which the exact same food was served. 

Be careful about getting caught up in mass hysteria.  The sky is not falling.  You can see opportunity or disaster in the same setting.