Freedom or Banana : Choice is Yours

“Before you attempt to set things right, make sure you see things right.” – Blaine Lee Pardoe

Vessel was enroute from Port Said, Egypt to Izmir, Turkey when it encountered some engine troubles. Engineers called up the bridge to stop the vessel and vessel was stopped – adrift in the East Mediterranean Sea. Berthing window in Izmir was confirmed and the schedule was a bit tight. Considering the time constraint all engine hands were mustered and troubleshooting started. Within 30 minutes the problem was rectified and the vessel was back on her voyage. However, during the repair operations one of the engineers got an injury but luckily the injury was a first aid case and was healed by minor dressings.

No one likes an Injury and despite the fact that “SAFETY FIRST” is our mantra, somehow during the rush to repair – Safety First lost it’s priority and was no where first. When things are going smooth, the likelihood of having an accident can be very much under appreciated and we tend to forget that there can be many slips between the cup and the lips. Many times our case is similar to a monkey who smells a banana and slides his hand inside the coconut, later on realizing that it was nothing but a trap. His tunnel vision can focus only on banana which compromises his freedom. Question is how the idea of freedom can be introduced again in the tunnel where the only thing that smells is banana?

Yale University, Year 1965, psychologist Howard Leventhal gave booklets to his students explaining the dangers of Tetanus and the importance of inoculation to see how many of them will go for the shots. To his shock and despite giving relevant information only 3% of his students got inoculated. Later on he gave them a map of the health center, times when shots were available and asked them the time they would visit and which route they would take to get the shot. The percentage of students who got the shot suddenly raised to 28%. Students were busy in what they thought was important but by asking them their plans Howard inserted tetanus inoculation in their tunnels.

People carry umbrellas only when they see the clouds. Readiness of the umbrellas without the presence of the clouds is what we have to prepare ourselves for. Transiting dense traffic areas like Dover and Singapore strait, the presence of Captain is essential on the command center of the ship(bridge). As a Captain I know exactly when the vessel will transit the strait but then again doing a premortem of the situation I always request the duty officer to call me beforehand. “Prevention is better than cure,” goes an old saying and the answer to ensure this is to introduce ways by which important things which might be missed can be reminded to us. Ways can be many but the idea is to introduce the missing part back where it belongs. Safety first should always be first. If there are chances where it can be second then there should be constant reminders to ensure that safety comes first and first only.

I know none of the above will act like a magic pill that can drop down the number of accidents on board. The problem is deep and sometimes the monkey does not like to exchange his banana for his freedom.But, understanding the psychology of the problem is more important than the problem itself. But if you are not a monkey and are looking for a way out of the tunnel vision then start doing the premortem of the situation, seeking out in advance what might go wrong. Once the culprit is known then the rest is to take it out of the picture. An apple a day keeps the doctor away is known to all but introducing a way to eat it daily is what we have to look for.

“Banana or Freedom”, “Safety or Injury” – The Choice is yours. After all, you are the captain of your ship.

Published by Harsh Pandey

A shapeless Pigmy searching for his own awakening. Otherwise, I am a master mariner, commanding merchant ships on international voyages.

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