Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Life of the Party (on the Plane)

If I was still in sales or worked in marketing, I might begin my post today like this: Do you travel much? Do you ever wonder how you can ingratiate yourself with your fellow travelers? If so, I have some great news for you – a SURE-FIRE, 100% GUARANTEED method of making friends FAST! There are no tricks – no strings attached – no gimmicks – and you can master this method in TEN MINUTES! When you get off the plane, everyone around you will LOVE YOU!

Sorry about that. I get these little ads that pop up on Gmail or Facebook with some regularity that say things like “SECRETS YOUR DOCTOR WON’T TELL YOU!” as though he hates you and is out to get you. Invariably, the text under the ad has something like what I’ve written above. But seriously, this would work – so maybe you’re curious. The way to win friends and influence people on an airplane is to bring one little thing with you … (wait for it) … a baby.

Or, more precisely, a tiny, cute, (and most important) sleeping baby. There are three steps in the process of winning the hearts and minds of your fellow travelers:

First, get on the plane carrying a baby. This will immediately make you the center of attention, mostly consisting of sideways glances as you walk down the aisle and whispered prayers of “Please, not next to me, please please please not here …” This might not seem like a good thing, but it’s a crucial first step because it gets everyone focused on you. If you walked down the aisle by yourself, nobody would give you a second glance, and they probably wouldn’t be that impressed with you later on.

Now we’ve got everyone’s attention, and particularly that of the people who are sitting near you. They’ve probably flashed you a few tight-lipped smiles. The really blunt ones might be ignoring you, making faces out the window, or scanning the rest of the plane for empty seats. A few friendly people might be complimenting you on your baby, but even they are wondering just how colicky she is and how long it will be before she wakes up. This is where step two comes in: apologizing in advance and showing off the kid. You know everyone’s thinking of your child as a ticking time bomb of misery, so you may as well acknowledge it and clear the air. A wry grin, and a sincere “Sorry-for-my-child-disturbing-your-sleep-later-but-she’s-only-three-weeks-old” will ingratiate you with your fellow passengers. It establishes you as not being one of the Evil Parents who view the world as a stage for their children to shine on, since you’re acknowledging the inconvenience. Plus, she really is cute, so the non-hardened people will feel a little bit guilty for wishing you ill earlier. They’ll probably admire the baby and then settle back down into their chairs, assured in the knowledge that at least you didn’t bring the child maliciously in order to inconvenience them.

Step three is the tricky one: ensuring that the baby sleeps for the remainder of the flight. (I recommend putting in a request for a sleepy kid when she’s conceived.) It’s best if she wakes up once or twice, and even if she cries a little (say, less than thirty seconds). This will awaken fear in those who are around you, which will then be immediately assuaged and will further convince them that there’s nothing to worry about and that your kid really is very cute.

By the time the plane lands, the people who inwardly cursed you when you got on will be smiling and complimenting your infant as you shuffle around and wait for the first-class passengers to get off. Even the most unfriendly will grin at your baby as you walk out of the plane, and everyone in your vicinity will remark (silently or aloud) at how surprisingly good your baby was and how they were dreading the flight for nothing. Their whole day will be brighter, and all thanks to you and your child!

The only thing I haven’t gotten down is the marketing aspect of this plan. Maybe I could sell a realistic sleeping baby doll that frequent flyers could carry around with them in order to make friends. I’d buy one myself, but I’m all set with cute sleeping babies for right now.



Carrie said...

Whew--what a relief, huh? One just never knows with children. . . I hope you have a wonderful visit! Are you coming to Alaska?

ChineseTalberts said...

Yes! How did you know? We always make it a point to stop in Anchorage, check out the big doings in Nome, etc etc. :) Unfortunately, going to Alberta to see my folks would have to take priority.

Ellen said...

Well, I hope Chloe was able to accommodate your 3-step plan!

Katherine said...

This is hilarious! I guess she did ok huh? I am thinking about you on the return.