Thank You for Packing My Parachute!


Posted June 6, 2021

Every morning, I start my day by taking a ride to the neighborhood coffee shop, followed by a trip around the park with the windows down. In the past, my mornings were consumed with the rat race of the 40-minute commute to the office.  These days, I’ve adjusted to the new routine of working from home and substituted the hectic morning drive with a short drive to reflect and connect with nature, while consuming the necessary dose of caffeine before my work day begins.

As I was circling the park this morning, I noticed a group of high school athletes running as a team around the park.  They were most likely conditioning for the upcoming season of Cross Country or Football. As they ran in unison during the early morning hours, it made me think of the importance of working together as a team and supporting one another to achieve a common goal. Teams come in many forms; businesses, sports or the military. One of the most important aspects of any team is the establishment of trust among teammates throughout the quest to win the customer, the game or the war.

One of the most inspirational stories I’ve heard is that of the U.S. Navy jet pilot in Vietnam, Charles Plumb.  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 six years in a communist Vietnamese prison. He survived the ordeal and now speaks on the 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.”

For a team to win, all team members must work in tandem to reach the company goals and have the unwavering sense of trust in one another.  The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  As an executive of HOTWORX & Planet Beach Franchising, I understand the importance of my role and how it supports the organization. Although each of us have a different role on the org. chart, the mission remains the same.  I sleep easy at night knowing my teammates support one another fully and express my deepest gratitude to them for packing my parachute!


Written By: Jodie Mateu, VP of Special Events & Productivity

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