When I was in middle school, my mother took me out of school one day to attend a “memory” seminar for salespeople, thinking it would help me with that struggle in school. It was one of those day-long sessions where we learned to use “memory hooks” to help with first name recognition and memorizing long ordered lists.
Whether it worked as intended, I’m not sure. I still struggle with names, even in small groups. But I can remember the most trivial of things about places I’ve only been once.
That is why I was driving to DFW yesterday to catch my flight to Wichita Kansas (ICT) so I could get up to Salina Kansas. And during my drive, the sight of a American Airlines plane taking off triggered a memory hook.
As the avid aviation geek I can be, I was not going to miss the announcement of the American Airlines new livery design on January 17, 2013. I wrapped up my early morning meeting with my client on a cold day in Salina Kansas and before heading to Manhattan Kansas (MHK) for my flight. I then drove to IHOP so I could watch the corporate reveal on a live stream while eating my pancake breakfast.
Oh, how I hated that design when it was first revealed. It almost ruined my breakfast. It was hard to try to digest change along with my pancakes.
Captain America, some of my fellow frequent flyers called it. The funny name stuck with me.
It would be mere weeks later when American would announce the pending merger with US Airways. American Airlines moved ahead with painting planes in the new livery design. This even after new CEO Doug Parker polled employees to see if they liked the new design. To me, the new look would suddenly become the last mark of the “old American Airlines”. Many of the purported “enhancements” of the new American Airlines have been announced. Now the livery stands out as the last milestone in an era of progress.
In the 22 months since that announcement, I have come around to loving the new livery design. Even so, I often dislike the changes taking place with American Airlines. As I realized yesterday, the new livery looks quite striking when taking off on a beautiful blue skied day. And I love the look of the new tails swimming across the alleyways of the hub airports.
And Salina Kansas, a city with no commercial air service, now holds a distinctive honor. It is my memory hook for the first time I met Captain America.