It’s a classic scenario: You’re on your way to have dinner with a friend when suddenly you see a kiddie ride. You climb inside, allured by the promise of fun, but become trapped because of your adult body. Since there’s no way you’re going to escape within the hour, you’re forced to miss your dinner plans. Since your friend is going to be rightfully angry, here’s how to tactfully cancel those dinner plans when you’re stuck inside a coin-operated train.
Apologize for being trapped
Tell your friend the situation— that you saw a toy choo-choo train by the mall food court and became so enticed by the idea of playing conductor and yelling things like “All aboard!” or “Last stop, Buffalo!,” that you climbed inside. But make sure they know that, even though it was fun while it lasted, you’re sorry you became trapped. Your friend shouldn’t get mad about a cancellation when the reason is so relatable. It’s the combination of understanding your urge to get inside the kiddie ride and the heartfelt apology that will keep the mood up.
Reschedule for a day you won’t be near a kiddie ride
Offer up an alternative and concrete plan for a day you won’t be near a kiddie ride, such as “There’s a new bar that’s really far away from the mall and I’m around next Thursday if you’re free.” Making sure you don’t get distracted by a toy train’s fun whistle and flashing lights shows your friend that you value her over your childlike inability to fight your own impulses. But be sure you’re free on the day you choose. Cancelling plans twice is a double no-no!
Clarify that you’re still trapped and need help
Don’t just say that you’re trapped and minimize the situation. It actually creates more pain for your friend if she thinks that you’re staying inside the choo-choo train forever. Let her know that you’re still very stuck and need help now. This clarification is vital! If you just ghost after texting a train emoticon, your friend will assume you got free and will think you’re a total dick for not just coming to dinner late. She needs to know that you’re still in the Wild West-themed play area at the mall, and unless someone comes soon, it’s going to stay that way.
Make a plan to escape
But your friend can’t do all the work! By keeping communication open and making it clear that you do have a plan to escape, your friend won’t have the burden of your stress. Explain that you’ve seen the movie 127 Hours, about the climber who cuts off his arm to escape a canyon, so you know what to do if there’s no other choice. Indicate that there are mall cops and even customers who could help you if she’s busy. It will calm your friend’s worries and keep her from seeing you as stupid or at risk, so she’ll want to hang out with you again.
Just cut off your arm
Go ahead and just cut off your arm if you’re stuck and gotta bail. This is a great way to show your friend that you truly were stuck, and that there was no way you could make your date. Your friend will have no choice but to accept your cancellation. Free from both the kiddie ride and your obligations? Now that’s a win-win situation!
Try these tactful tips to cancel plans respectfully when you’re trapped in a kiddie ride, and your friends will finally be understanding of your plight!