Break the Chain 'Chutes and Letters

Exclusive (1/2/2002) One thing about e-mail is that you can make something annoying seem much more significant if you attach it to something meaningful.

SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT

Who Packed Your Parachute?

Charles Plumb was a U.S. Navy jet pilot in Vietnam. After 75 combat missions, his plane was destroyed by a surface-to-air missile. Plumb ejected and parachuted into enemy hands. He was captured and spent 6 years in a communist Vietnamese prison. He survived the ordeal and now lectures on lessons learned from that experience.

One day, when Plumb and his wife were sitting in a restaurant, a man at another table came up and said, "You're Plumb! You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down!"

"How in the world did you know that?" asked Plumb. "I packed your parachute," the man replied. Plumb gasped in surprise and gratitude. The man pumped his hand and said, "I guess it worked!" Plumb assured him, "It sure did. If your chute hadn't worked, I wouldn't be here today."

Plumb couldn't sleep that night, thinking about that man. Plumb says, "I kept wondering what he might have looked like in a Navy uniform: a white hat, a bib in the back, and bell-bottom trousers. I wonder how many times I might have seen him and not even said 'Good morning, how are you?' or anything because, you see, I was a fighter pilot and he was just a sailor."

Plumb thought of the many hours the sailor had spent on a long wooden table in the bowels of the ship, carefully weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of each chute, holding in his hands each time the fate of someone he didn't know.

Now, Plumb asks his audience, "Who's packing your parachute?" Everyone has someone who provides what they need to make it through the day. Plumb also points out that he needed many kinds of parachutes when his plane was shot down over enemy territory-he needed his physical parachute, his mental parachute, his emotional parachute, and his spiritual parachute. He called on all these supports before reaching safety.

[Full text omitted]

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Charles Plumb is now a motivational speaker, and tells this true story during his lectures. It was published in "Insights Into Excellence," a 1993 book and cassette series that featured 20 different motivational speeches from a variety of speakers. This web site has the unabridged version of the tale, as told by Plumb.

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Unfortunately, this true and inspirational story has collected a stow-away during its travels on the 'net. The last five paragraphs - in defense of forwarded jokes - were not part of Plumb's presentation and have absolutely nothing to do with it. It boggles the mind how it even came to be associated with it, since the parachute story doesn't even remotely resemble a joke. The touching and sincere sentiment of the parachute story carries over to the joke defense and gives it more credit than it deserves.

If forwarded jokes are just your friends' way of letting you know they care, then it is very ironic that, in a recent survey, one-third of Break the Chain readers named jokes and friendship chains as the most annoying type of chain letter. We know that jokes are forwarded with good intentions, but most of us would rather get one personal note a month than a forwarded joke every day.

The inclusion of the joke defense cheapens and detracts from the message of the parachute story. If you were touched by Plumb's tale, forward it on, but delete the last five paragraphs first. Or, better yet, send friends the link to the site mentioned above. Break this Chain!

What Do You Think?

Category: Real, But...
References: None

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