Step aside, Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger; Wright brothers, your fifteen minutes of fame are over. The world has a new hero in the history of flight: Le Van Thuan. Haven't heard of him? Earlier this month, Thuan found himself trapped on an airplane next to a mother and her crying baby after his Vietnam Airlines flight landed in Ho Chi Minh City.
What did he do to earn his place in the Aviation Hall of Fame? Before the plane had even come to a complete stop, Thuan opened the emergency exit and deployed the inflatable slide in order to, he claimed, help the mother and baby get off the plane more quickly.
How was this man rewarded for his efforts? He was slapped with a fine of 15 million dong. When I first read this, I thought this was some kind of weird, sexual Vietnamese punishment that was outlawed long ago in the U.S. under the Constitution's Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
Reading on, I learned that dong is the currency of Vietnam, and Thuan's fine was equivalent to roughly $900. The emergency exit was worth every penny--or dong, as the case may be--though clearly this man should be collecting a reward check, not opening his own pocketbook.
Thuan's actions were admirable on so many levels. First of all, he had the restraint to wait until the plane landed to take action. It would be completely understandable if he'd torn a hole in the plane mid-flight to "help" the mother and her baby exit the aircraft more quickly. Secondly, I can't help but applaud his bold, blatantly untrue explanation for his actions, that he was "helping" the mother and child exit the plane more quickly. Well played, sir...
Now, I realize that there's not much parents can do when their baby starts crying on an airplane...but here's a thought: don't bring the baby on the flight to begin with! The rest of the passengers paid a lot of money to enjoy their cramped, uncomfortable seats in silence. If you need to transport your baby, go Greyhound.
The crowd on the bus won't mind the crying--after all, people buy Greyhound tickets with the expectation of general pain and suffering. That's why it's so cheap...where else can you drive across the country for a mere $15 ticket? And if you need to cross an ocean with your crying baby, I hear they're doing amazing things with cargo ships these days...
In a world so full of conflict, it's nice to see that cultures all over the world can all agree on a bitter animosity toward crying babies. It's downright heartwarming...
In case you're interested, the following are links to some official, and perhaps more objective, recaps of this hilarious event: