On the way back from experiencing the Goldie effect, something rather unusual happened on the flight – not finding a mythical ape-like creature in the North American wilderness unusual, but unusual.
The flight was in the evening, so the crew had turned off the cabin lights to that low, warm glow that you only get on airplanes and charter buses. It is a quality of light that plays tricks on your eyes, so Alan was surprised when something fuzzy scurried past his feet.
You know those moments when you hear or see something but the sensory input doesn’t fully register for a few seconds?
Context is everything, so when a small creature runs by your feet 35,000 feet in the air, you say, “I think a ferret is loose on the plane?” There is no room for a more definitive tone unless you are holding the thing in your lap and staring at it.
Another few seconds go by, and we see a furry little tail scamper past again. This time we are sure. We inform the flight attendant – who later tells us that it is a first in her long career – but she fails to look shocked at the moment.
A couple of minutes later, she is on the overhead speakers, “If anyone has an undeclared pet on this plane, please come forward; your animal is loose and running around the plane. It will be better for you if you just admit it is you, thank you.” The cabin lights pierce the dim mass transportation lighting in hopes the passengers can help recover the creature.
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Now, a critical piece of information was missing in her intercom communication: what type of animal it is. Perhaps she noticed Alan wasn’t Jack Hanna and decided she’d better keep it general.
The vagueness had a comical effect on the other passengers; now, a creature of unknown variety and origin was running past their feet! It took another minute before the ferret was spotted again, this time producing a wave of shrieks, laughter, and passengers hopping on their seats.
The ferret was eventually captured and returned to its owner, who had snuck it on board in her purse and had proceeded to fall asleep. A nap that resulted in her enterprising pet going for a mile-high stroll. Her ultimate consequence appeared to be a stern talking to. Unless the FAA has a ferret no-fly list, I think she may do it again.
Why am I telling you this story? In business and life, if you own a ferret that is loose on a plane, admit it was you. There is no hiding from this reality for long.
Being upfront and forward with the interested parties will alleviate the pressure on the situation. More importantly, making the circumstances right again hinges on having the proper information. Name it and face it head-on. You will be glad you did.