“The backbone of surprise is fusing speed with secrecy.”

– Carl von Clausewitz


Surprise.  A sudden feeling of wonder and excitement comes over us.

Taken literally it should make time pause for a moment.  Highlight that we are exactly present to the moment.  It’s good to practice presence – to pay attention to exactly the time not in front of you, but right there, right then.  Surprise is the best example of knowing we are absolutely present.

The other day I was at the airport.  Again the same old routine, check in online and go to drop off the large bag I was taking on the journey.  Approached by one of the staff I was asked what was in my bag.  My first thought was it’s none of her business, but I responded.  Then came the surprise…

Back in the hey day of flying staff were polite to their customers, welcomed them on their journey and sought to make them feel relaxed and comfortable, after all flying can be stressful for some people.  The standard procedure had changed, this flight attendant was determined that the carry on bag I was travelling with should only contain a laptop.  Of course I’d packed a couple of books, my camera, shoved in a few other loose items, a bottle of water and my toothbrush.

Repacking time.  Stressful.  Unnecessary.  Shifting your weight for the sake of it.

There is nothing special about this surprise.  Just that as a business model it only works through forcing compliance.  These big businesses seem to forget that a happy customer, one that receives a good surprise might return one day and fly with them again.

Well this time the surprise is on them.  I’ll just be choosing to fly with a better airline next time.  One that takes the hassle out of the journey.