My sister won’t visit me because of Ebola. Which I don’t have.

I bought my sister plane tickets for her birthday, for her and her kids to come visit me. Now she’s saying she won’t come because she is too afraid to be in an airport and doesn’t want to expose herself and her family to Ebola. How can I change her mind? I’m also mad because it’s wasting money I spent on the tickets.

Funny. It’s a sister-travel kind of morning; I just told mine I wanted to come visit her, and now she’s suddenly claiming she’s going to be “out of the country” that week.

There’s nothing you can say or do to change your sister’s mind, but I have a technique for getting people to do what you want without them even knowing it, and it’s going to change your life. Here are a couple of scenarios when I used it, and totally got my way.

Scene 1

Me: I think we should re-do the kitchen. We need all new appliances, and the countertops are ugly, and it’s a dark and depressing pit of despair where I spend 95% of my waking hours.

Husband: No. I don’t want to.

Me: Great. I’ll call and get some estimates.

(six months later, we have a lovely new kitchen)

Scene 2

Preschooler: I don’t want to go to school and I’m not getting dressed and I’m going to eat my cereal with only my face and no hands or spoon!

Me: Okay.

(cereal is eaten)

Me: Look, now you’re all wet from milk, you silly kid, and there’s a Cheerio stuck up your nose. Let’s put on some dry clothes!

Preschooler: Fine but I’m NOT GOING TO SCHOOL.

Me: Okay.

(kid is changed and put into car and taken to school)

Do you see what I did there? I just said okay, and moved ahead as if my husband had said, Sure, let’s get a new kitchen!, or my four-year-old had said, I can’t wait to get in the car and go to school! So just agree with your sister that Ebola is terrifying and we’re all going to get it, and that only the wisest, most sensible people know to avoid leaving their houses for any reason whatsoever. And then a week before she’s supposed to arrive, tell her you got tickets for a show or made a reservation at a great restaurant, and then a couple days beforehand tell her you spruced up the guest room and the kids even put a chocolate on her pillow because they’re so excited to see her. She’ll come see you. You’ll make it happen through sheer will. No worries.

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