Friday, April 30, 2010

One of the things I like best about my job is reading letters from people I call “Allen Edmonds Men” – stand up guys who invariably take their multiple roles in life very seriously, and themselves less so. They always have interesting, often entertaining and even inspirational tales to tell about an experience with their Allen Edmonds shoes. We’re honored to be associated with these men.

Earlier this month I received a great letter from Bob Moore, a business executive from North Carolina. Finishing a work trip to New York, Bob was wearing a pair of Allen Edmonds when he boarded that fateful U.S. Air flight that ended up making an emergency landing on the Hudson River.

With his permission, below is Bob’s inside story of what happened that day,which he prepared for family and friends. If you’re looking for some reassurance about the American spirit of goodwill amid today’s scandal epidemic, read on…

Best wishes,

Paul D. Grangaard
President & CEO
Allen Edmonds Shoe Corporation

“Flight 1549.

The Airbus was a little late leaving LaGuardia airport. Nothing unusual with that. Leaving LGA on-time …. now that would be unusual. About a minute or so into the flight, I heard a loud “BANG” coming from what I thought was the right side of the plane. The plane was shaking. Then it seemed all the mechanicals stopped because the normal noises ceased. We started a slow turn to the left and I figured we were returning to the airport because something was really bad. I don’t think any of us on the plane realized for certain we were going down until the pilot announced for us to brace for impact. I then assumed the position of doing my best to inspect the shoes of the guy sitting behind me. It seemed forever between the “bang” and the captain’s announcement and an equal lifetime between his announcement and the impact.

In that position at that time is when I had the calmest moment of my life. I realized we were going to crash and die. I asked the Lord to let me in and that I was looking forward to seeing Him. I prayed for Him to watch out for Manchie and the kids and be with them. I hoped we would miss any heavily occupied buildings (that was a just a thought, but apparently He looked after that too).

Impact was not at all bad. My hands were on top of my head since I was doing shoe inspections and my right hand was slightly scratched and is swollen. No damage to my other hand or my head. I then thought, “Well, Bob, seems you may have a thing or two left to do here on earth.”

As soon as we stopped, and that doesn’t take long when you land on/in the water, we started our herd mentality to exit the plane. I think this was about the first time I heard “women and children first”. It was repeated often and was actually followed as best we could in such confined spaces.

We exited onto the right wing. The water was up to the top of my shoes when I got on the wing or shortly after. Our raft had inflated, but was upside down and pushed back against the side of the plane. Men closest to the back edge of the wing were trying to wrestle the raft closer and turn it over so folks could get on. Well, the guys were having no success with righting the raft, but had managed to get it closer to the wing as the water reached our knees and then someone yelled…“get on the raft…. The bottom is ok…. It will work that way.” That’s when the women and children rule kicked in again.

Then eureka…!! A guy noticed a ferry heading our way. The ferry’s ladder had a small platform at the end just at the water’s surface. When my turn to leave the plane/boat came, we had to jump for the ladder as it was not always right at the wing. The ladder only accommodated one at a time, so we stayed there until each “right wing” person got aboard. Aside: was I on the correct wing or what?

I was soaking wet and slightly cold. Being immersed in freezing water and standing in freezing air tends to chill a person. Some gentleman draped his suit coat over me and a lady asked if I wanted to use her cell phone. Turns out, they were two of the passengers on the ferry when our plane went in.

Of course the ferry terminal was not prepared for large influx of cold, wet non-passengers. The two kids running the small snack shop in the terminal opened it up to us, giving us coffee, tea, hot chocolate, snacks…. whatever we wanted. Later, the owner showed up in a tux and wearing shades. I thanked him for what he was doing and he said: “hey man, it is the only thing we can do. We have to do this, it’s the right thing”. Or something close. He echoed the sentiments expressed in words AND actions by literally every person who was there…

…Got a few hugs and kisses from Manchie when I walked in the house. Guess an extra day in NYC made her miss me even more than usual. Not long after getting home, Manchie’s phone rang -- it was a USAirways customer service rep checking up on me. She said they would return any personal items they recovered and reimburse for medical expenses and lost items. Wish I could claim that new iPod, the brand new computer, my two Italian suits, Blu-Ray dvd player, those three pair of Allen Edmonds shoes (actually the ones that got ruined were Allen Edmond… drat.), the 42” flat screen TV, and the 2009 Escalade….

The overall experience was actually very positive. Seeing people at their best and coming to know that our life on this earth is fragile is rewarding. It tends to focus you on the important things.”

Bob Moore (fourth from the left below)