Friday Free-for-All #4

In which I answer a random question generated by a website. Here’s this week’s question Feel free to give your own answers in the comments.

What’s the most ridiculous thing you have convinced someone is true?

This one goes back a few years, probably the late 00’s or early 10’s, when I was working for a D-List celebrity’s web and merchandising company, and one of the things we did was send staff along for his various live appearances in order to sell merchandise at the venue.

Since, at the time, I was the one managing operations, I rarely traveled to these events myself because I was dealing with getting the product to and from them. I think the only two events I actually worked were both in California, one a local drive to Thousand Oaks, and the other a weekend trip to Cupertino, near San Francisco, with a co-worker.

But once up a time, there was a trip coming up to St. Louis, and two of my co-workers were scheduled to go there. One of them was from St. Louis, so it was a nice bonus for here that she’d get to see family. The other one was not. Originally from Florida, he was a fairly recent transplant to Los Angeles.

I’ll call him Stu. Nice guy, bit of a hipster but in a nice, non-pretentious way. And it’s probably unfair to label him that. He was just into traditional ways of doing things, like when it came to photography — a film fan in the digital age, and the kind of person I’d like to introduce to anyone ripping on Millennials by way of saying, “See? You’re wrong!”

So Stu was flying out with Beth the next day and we were all at the local bar near the office for some celebration, although I don’t remember the occasion. All I remember was Stu talking about how excited he was to be making his first trip to St. Louis, and Beth telling him he’d love it and mentioning place they should go to, when my inner eye twinkled and I just couldn’t resist.

“You’ll really love flying into the city,” I told him. “You know the St. Louis arch? It’s right by the airport, and the planes fly through it to land.”

Now Beth knew I was bullshitting. I knew I was bullshitting, but she caught on immediately and didn’t miss a beat. “Oh, it’s pretty incredible,” she said (or something like that, I don’t remember) and she played right along with the joke.

In improv, we’d call this “Yes, anding” the offer.

And the more that Stu asked, “You’re kidding, right?” the more I’d insist I wasn’t and the more Beth would back me up. By the end of the evening as he was heading out — they were leaving first thing in the morning — he was excited as hell to see it for himself.

I didn’t get the full report until Tuesday morning when they were back in the office, but Beth pulled me aside and said that as the pilot announced final approach, Stu got out his camera and aimed it out the window, ready to get the shot of his life. Waiting, and waiting, and waiting… and then his anticipation sank as fast as the plane, disappearing completely as the wheels hit the tarmac and he sighed. “That son of a bitch,” he muttered.

He wasn’t really pissed at me and, in fact, was impressed that I’d pulled off such a prank. And, besides, we both knew that I’d done it out of love, not spite. I really did like the guy, still do, and I’d only pull a prank like this on someone I did like. What? I’m going to waste the energy on someone I hate? No. Those people I’m going to either ignore, or rip a new one and then ignore.

And it was a harmless prank with no real consequences, because a harmful prank with consequences is something that I would never do, not even to an enemy. Maybe I’d pull a terribly inconveniencing prank with no real consequences on an enemy, but never anything harmful.

Other than that, I can’t really think of any times when I tried to make somebody believe something ridiculous. But if you’re a more than casual reader of this blog, you know that I roll the opposite way. I love to try to make people understand and believe real things.

By the way, while it is technically possible to fly the commercial jet with the biggest wingspan (300 feet) through the Gateway Arch (width between the supports at the bottom, 522 feet), the eastern side is dangerously close to a lot of buildings that would get in the way of a plane trying to get that low, although the western side does face the Mississippi.  Bottom line, the FAA would never go for it. The best you might be able to achieve is a private helicopter flight through it.

Although the permitting and planning for that probably makes it as ridiculous an idea as what I once convinced Stu to believe.