A Sad Anniversary and How Companies Used to Treat Their Employees
The probability that you will be killed in a commercial aviation accident is very rare. Nevertheless, I have a fear of flying. A genuine phobia. One that has caused me to bail on a flight - after boarding it. Given my extreme fear of flying and the remote probability that one will be killed in a commercial plane crash, it’s somewhat ironic that I married a man whose oldest sister was killed in a plane crash.
See the girl in that painting? That’s DynaPapa’s oldest sister when she was 16. She never had a 17th birthday because she was killed August 9, 1970, when her plane crashed after take-off from Cusco, Peru. She was one of 49 high school exchange students visiting Peru for the summer. The group had spent the morning in Machu Picchu and were returning to Lima, where their host families lived. During the take-off roll or immediately after becoming airborne, the number 3 engine burst into flames. Although the plane was perfectly capable of returning to the airport, the pilot made a critical mistake and shut down the wrong engine. Now, with the loss of two engines, the plane stalled and crashed into a hillside, killing 99 of the 100 people on board.
DynaPapa, his other sister, and his mother were vacationing in Spain at the time of the accident. DynaPapa’s mother was a high school Spanish teacher and often took her kids to Spain for the summer, while his father remained home in Briarcliff Manor, New York. This was (obviously) before the internet so his mother didn’t do much pre-planning. They simply drove around the countryside and stayed at motels in whatever town they happened to find themselves that day or week. DynaPapa’s father worked for IBM and upon receiving the news was a complete basket case. (OlderSister was his favorite child. Everyone in DynaPapa’s family readily admits it.)
To show you how differently companies used to treat their employees, IBM contacted their offices in Spain and several of the employees conducted a search and seek mission to find DynaPapa’s mother so they could deliver the news. IBM then coordinated with a US airlines and bought them first class tickets so they could immediately return home to New York. Not wanting DynaPapa’s family to be bothered with the chore of packing, IBM dispatched employees who handled that task and shipped all of their belongings back to the US. Additionally, IBM sent two of its employees on the flight. One helped DynaPapa’s mother and the other entertained DynaPapa and his sister. Can you imagine a large corporation doing all of that for an employee’s family in this day and age?
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