December 31st, 2010

36 electronic devices are still on in the cabin… and other awesome lies.

You know how I am about traveling.
I take pleasure in tiny rebellions, like only putting my cell phone in ‘airplane mode’ instead of turning it all the way off. And I think maybe i’m not the only person who does this.

So the other week I’m on a flight and the flight attendant (who, I’m absolutely positive, moonlights as a dominatrix–she actually took the time to threaten the small children sitting across from me that they’d get no cartoons if they didn’t pay attention to her rules and behave. She was so scary that the mom just stared at her in mute horror until she went away) got on the horn and said ‘there are 36 electronic devices still on in the main cabin.”

At which point a couple things happened. First, you could just about hear 75% of the passengers simultaneously wondering ‘do they have some kind of sensor for that now? Geez, I guess it’s possible, right? I mean, it’s detectable, right?”

And then, 3 seconds later, the main cabin fairly sparkled with reflections as several dozen cell phones were whipped out of their little hiding places and turned to their ‘fully off positions.’

Including mine.

I’m now absolutely positive that Mistress Scarypants was lying through her sharpened teeth. But you gotta hand it to her. It worked like a charm. Her lie didn’t hurt anybody. It just made a bunch of jerks (like myself) feel chagrined for not following the rules.

I’m sure there are life (and business) lessons about the value of lying in all this. And I’m sure that I’m absolutely the best person to figure out what that lesson is, and to help everyone operationalize their own business-related lying processes. But it’s going to take me a minute.

As long as we are talking about that flight, I might as well share some of the other randomness that I experienced during those hours. I was pretty bleary for most of the trip, as i was busy enjoying the full-blown migraine that bloomed a few minutes before boarding. But as we started descending, and as I started surfacing, I began to notice the other passengers surrounding me. To my right, a hugely obese man who had apparently purchased two seats for himself…and for his four giant-sized cups of dunkin donuts iced coffee with lots and lots of cream. No ice. Just a total of 128 ounces of creamy cold caffeine. And he didn’t drink a drop. Not a sip. We were headed from Boston to Seattle…is there something special about Boston Dunkin Donuts iced coffee? Perhaps he was bringing it home like a sourdough starter, so that he could ferment his own mediocre coffee back in the land of designer caffeine? He was transfixed by his cups, like a very large momma duck overseeing a cardboard carrier-nest of eggs.

Behind him was a guy who also purchased several seats. Actually, this one purchased the entire row. For himself…and his two cats. He was dressed entirely in various shades of camouflage, so that various parts of him would be invisible in different circumstances (for example, the top of his head would be entirely safe during a bought of urban warfare, his midsection free from fear of being shot in the woods during springtime, his legs fully safe in the autumn…) His kitties were similarly protected in their kitty-camo-cat-carriers.They spent their time meowing gently from under the seats of coffee man. Meanwhile, their owner settled into the aisle seat and set up an elaborate and fully equipped fly-tying shop, complete with task light, clamp devices, bins of supplies, hemostats, things with nozzles, and assorted spools of various threads.

In front of me, stretched across both rows of seats, was a large family who apparently spoke no english, much to the ongoing fury of Mistress Scarypants, who berated them in her loud russian accent (she really did have a russian accent–I’m telling you, the whole flight was surreal) as they refused to understand her queries about their beverage needs. They preferred to spend their time playing musical laps with their two screaming children, even as she bared her fangs and tried to mime ‘do you want more water, DAMMIT’ in their general direction.

Anyways, I’m interested in more discussion of lying. Leave comments now, please. In the immortal words of Nurse Diesel, those who are late will not receive a fruit cup.