The last time that I flew, the airline flight attendant instructed all
of the passengers aboard the plane on how to handle a mid-flight emergency.
She explained that in the case of an air pressure drop, oxygen masks would
drop down from the cabins. She ordered adults traveling with children
to properly secure their own masks over their faces, before they assist
the children and other passengers with theirs. As a parent of small children,
these instructions seemed counter-intuitive. I understand that my children
depend on me to do almost everything and that they would not be very successful
at placing their masks on without my help. I place their safety and well-being
even before my own. Why would the airline tell me to secure my oxygen
before my children’s? The reason, I think, is that ensuring my own
mask first provides the greatest odds that we all survive. What would
happen if I should run out of air while I am trying to gather my children
and place masks over their faces? I may very well run out of air mid-way
through without being able to put on my mask or that of all of my children.
But, if I swiftly place my mask on, my lungs will be full of air and I
will have the strength that I need to gather my children and place their
masks on as well.
Were it not for this emergency protocol that the airline provides, many
of us would do things backwards if we found ourselves in a mid-air crisis.
I cannot help but wonder if this airline emergency protocol can be translated
to assist with other types of emergency situations that we face with our
loved ones, such as a financial crisis. This past week I met a very sweet
woman whose house was set to be sold at a Foreclosure auction at the end
of the month. The Home Owner’s Association was foreclosing on her
house for her failure to pay maintenance fees. She owed them about $10,000.
When I reviewed the court record I saw that the Home Owner’s Association
had given her numerous opportunities in the past four years to repay the
amounts in monthly installments and time and time again the woman would
default on the payment. The total debt for which they were going to foreclose
on the home was $10,000.00. During our consult, I asked her why she had
been unable to take advantage of the opportunities the Home Owner’s
Association had given her to save her home. She said, “because I
have been helping my children.” She explained that she has four
children all over the age of 35 whom go back and forth from living with
her whenever they find themselves in financial troubles. “They come
live with me when they are going through a rough time and then they leave
and leave me in a deep financial hole every time. I have not had electricity
in my home for six (6) months” she said. The lady and her children
seem to all have been going through a financial crisis at the same time.
But, she had prioritized giving them money to take care of their financial
situations over paying her electricity and her Home Owners Association,
amongst other things. Aside from the discomfort of living without electricity
for such an extended period of time, this was going to result in her losing
the house that she had lived in for twenty-six (26) years. Fortunately,
she came to Loan Lawyers just in time for us to be able to stop the sale
date and try and save her home. We may try and work out another deal with
the HOA so that she can repay the fees that are due and get the foreclosure
I do not know much about the situation that her children were in, nor do
I pretend to know. There are many situations that justify giving all of
our financial resources to our children before allocating them to anything
else. But, there are other times, when, much like a parent flying with
young children, we must sometimes understand that the right thing to do
in a crisis situation can sometimes be putting our mask, be it an oxygen
mask or a financial mask, on first so that we can be best equipped to
serve those around us to our maximum capacity.