Commentary by Maj. Stephen Gray
50th Comptroller Squadron commander
I apologize in advance if this article is a little too Andy Rooney-ish.
Recently on a flight back to New England for the holidays, it hit me. It was then that I knew what I could write about for this article. I had just arrived at my seat and began people watching and started getting more and more frustrated by the minute. I flew on an airline that doesn’t assign seats and I was mesmerized at how oblivious people were to the hundred or so other people who needed to make it to an empty seat and get settled so we could get in the air. I will refer to those type of people as “oblivions” … oblivious person! However, as I sat waiting for the flight to take off, I started thinking about ways Airmen can be less in oblivion through better situational awareness and, in turn, be better supervisors, subordinates, Airmen and citizens of society, in general.
We have all heard the acronym SA and we all know it stands for situational awareness; but do we all understand it and practice it in our everyday life? There are various degrees of situational awareness. The spectrum runs the gamut from the SA a gunner exhibits in the rear vehicle of a convoy in Afghanistan all the way to the people simply boarding a flight to New England. SA can take on many forms to include: common courtesies, safety mindedness and just being keenly aware of people and your surroundings.
So how can having better SA help me be a better Airman? Well, when you see your Airman moping around the work center just not being themselves, ask them what’s wrong. When you walk across the parking lot and see a piece of trash out of the corner of your eye, walk over and pick it up. When you board the elevator and think you hear someone a few steps behind you, hold the door and check. When you approach the gate with passengers and see the “100 percent ID check” sign, don’t wait until you pull up to the sentry to tell your passengers to have their IDs ready. When you need to carry on a conversation in the hallway, stand to the same side as the person you are conversing with so people don’t have to walk between you. When you know your boss needs something done, don’t wait until you are asked to do it. When you’re leaving for the day and headed home, even though the light turned green, count to two and look both ways before entering the intersection. When your co-worker seems bogged down with tasks, they probably are; so ask if you can help them. When you’re boarding a plane, have your stuff ready to stow before you walk down the jet way and quickly store it in the overhead and get the heck out of the aisle so those behind you can get to their seats. I could go on forever but I know Public Affairs has other news to report in order to increase your SA.
We all go through our busy days taking care of business but it takes very little effort to raise your SA and not be oblivions. By being keenly aware of your surroundings, the core value of excellence will permeate in all your actions whether it’s helping a subordinate, a coworker, your boss, a complete stranger or society in general.
Hopefully after reading this article you raise your situational awareness to be better passengers and more importantly, better Airmen.