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  • Jered Stewart

Don't Wait Until It's Too Late

May! Finally spring has sprung and we are getting some warmer weather. New England has a wild climate, where it can be 35℉ in the morning and 70℉ by lunch. Don’t forget to wear your jacket over your short sleeves. May Day is an interesting “holiday”. Historically it was a European holiday marking the unofficial beginning of summer halfway between the spring equinox and summer solstice. It doesn’t seem that May Day caught on in America as I don’t remember dancing around the May Pole or having bonfires on May 1st. Growing up in Maine I think there were times we still had snow on May 1st!

As a child I remember watching movies and hearing the call for “mayday”, which is quite different than the holiday of May Day. The common “mayday” call is a call for help, often used by the pilot of an aircraft or the captain of a ship as a distress call. The mayday call has its roots in French, as it was originally used as “m’aidez” which roughly means “help me”. I’m sure we’ve all heard the “mayday, mayday, mayday” calls in movies at the moment of desperation when the plane is going down or the Titanic is about to sink.

I’m not very good at asking for help. I have somewhat of an independent spirit you could say, and I like to do things myself. Sometimes others might take this to mean I don’t trust them or I don’t think they can do it right. But that often isn’t true. Most of the time I enjoy the sense of accomplishment of having completed something myself. It feels good to complete a project, or see something through from beginning to end. And I did learn growing up that if you want something done right, do it yourself. That might not always be the best advice for a leader, because oftentimes we should be delegating, training, and letting others learn to succeed or fail. But, I will admit, it is hard for me. I still have more to learn, and perhaps learning to say “mayday” might be on my list. Maybe I need to ask for help more often.

The one thing that strikes me about the “mayday” call is that it always seems to come at the last minute just before disaster strikes. Perhaps there is a lesson in that that we shouldn’t wait too long to ask for help. I’m not a pilot and don’t know the protocols, but if you need help in your life, don’t wait until disaster is imminent before asking for help. And please be willing to help out someone else, especially if you hear their “mayday” call!

Happy May 1st! Enjoy this May Day and don’t forget to call for mayday when you need it.

Many people have pointed out that “m’aidez” is not proper French for “help me”. The proper grammar would be “aidez moi”. Regardless, the international radio telegraph convention wanted an easily distinguishable distress call that would not be confused so they adopted the “m’aidez / may day” call at their 1927 convention. It seems to have stuck.

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