By Terence Cole @talesfromterry
A business leader taught me that there are two main ways to influence people: motivation and manipulation. Motivation is getting someone to do something for their benefit. Manipulation is getting someone to do something for your benefit. The leader said that motivation comes with a blessing, and manipulation comes with a curse. I tend to stay on the motivation side of influence, but it hasn’t always been this way. Especially when it comes to getting people to do questionable activities, such as riding the the trunk of a Toyota.
When I was in junior high, my brother and I would occasionally take trips to a mall called Northwest Plaza. It was a nice mall, but it had a bad reputation because of gang violence. However, we loved Northwest Plaza because it had an awesome arcade named Tilt, and Tilt had all of the latest games.
James was my best friend and he loved video games as much as I did. The problem was that James’s mom would never let him go to Northwest Plaza, because she was scared that something would happen to him. James was a couple of shades lighter than me, and he rarely traveled to the more ethnic parts of St. Louis.
After weeks of convincing, James’s mom let him go to Northwest Plaza with us. My brother, our friend Caesar, myself, and my homeboy James went. Three Nubians and a Caucasian.
My brother drove us to the mall. During the drive, Caeser told us about the time in which he had ridden in his friend’s car’s trunk and was scared for his life.
I thought this was hilarious, and began scheming of ways to get someone to get into the trunk of my brother’s car.
Someone like James.
We had a good time playing games at Tilt, but throughout the evening I thought about how I could get James into the trunk of the car. I continually suggested it to him, and he continually told me to go to hell.
Tip from Terence: Your friends do not always have your best interests at heart. Even if they like you, you’d be surprised at how many of them are open to watching you do stupid things. Be wise enough to discern what is going on in your relationships. If you have friends who truly do not have your best interests at heart, confront them about it, or consider changing your friends. Either they need a heart change, or you need new people to spend time with.
We left Tilt and walked back to my brother’s car. After the fifth time I had suggested that James get in the truck, I realized that he wasn’t going to do it without an incentive. We had gone all evening without eating and I decided to appeal to his sense of hunger:
Me: “If you get in the trunk, I’ll buy you dinner.”
James: “Go to hel… What are you offering?”
I looked around and saw a McDonald’s. I told him that I’d buy him burgers for dinner if he’d get in the truck. He agreed. Having heard this, my brother immediately performed a U-turn and drove to the restaurant. I bought my friend two double cheeseburgers and said:
Me: “Get in the trunk.”
Even though we were only 13 at the time, James was a big guy. He climbed in the trunk, but he couldn’t fully fit. Rather than let a lack of truck space defeat my plan, we decided to let down half of the back seat and snake James’s back so that his head was sticking into the rear of the car.
The fit in the trunk of the Toyota was snug. Really snug.
The first thing that my brother did after driving away from the McDonald’s was roll over a speed bump.
My brother leaned back and said:
JJ: “Are you okay?”
Then my brother put the car in reverse and ran over the speed bump again.
We began to drive home. My brother, Caesar, and I were having a wonderful time hearing James wail in the back seat. Apparently, being shoved in the trunk of a car is just as comfortable as you’d think that it would be.
(Not very comfortable.)
We accidentally exited the highway early, and began driving through a park. After a few minutes we came upon a lit basketball court filled with Caucasians.
We are not racist people, but we are racially paranoid.
When there are three brothers rolling in a car with a white guy in the trunk, they don’t end up on shows like Cops. They end up on shows like Unsolved Mysteries. We immediately turned around and got back on the highway.
About twenty minutes later, we arrived at an intersection five minutes from our house. My brother then had a brilliant idea. He yelled:
JJ: “Hey James, do you feel a draft?”
And he popped the truck of the car.
Have you ever heard a guy scream like a schoolgirl because his legs were dangling in front of a Chevy?
Looking back, we did just about everything wrong during that trip. Please, be excellent to your friends. If you have somebody who loves and trusts you, then honor that love and trust. Use your influence to motivate them to do things to improve their lives, not manipulate them into doing things for your amusement. I’m thankful that nothing bad happened that night. But seriously. Don’t try this at home!
What do you think? Join the discussion on Facebook!