Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Chapter 438: How To Make Small Talk With Your Kidnappers.


Unlike our previous chapters on the finer points of kidnapping and abduction, this section deals with a truly serious danger: awkward silence. Thankfully, this hazard can be neutralized with just a little bit of coaching.  

"Now wait," you say. "Aren't hostages usually bound and gagged?" If only you were so lucky! As we learned back in chapter 73, the vast majority criminals only adopt their lifestyle in order to overcome their own social awkwardness. Many kidnappers won't want to pass up the opportunity to hold your attention hostage. Pun intended! 

When you are abducted and inevitably left gag-less, it's important to note that kidnapping is distinctly different from garden-variety bank robbery or mugging; you can't just fall back on crime-specific interest and chat about a topic like the declining strength of the American dollar or the relative merits of the metric system over imperial (despite the latter's undeniable charm.) Kidnappers hail from a variety of backgrounds. They're likely to run the gamut from unemployed horticulturists to unemployed agriculturists. That being the case, you'll have to rely on the most common of conversation topics, but remember, you can't see the weather from the back of a windowless van.

The best course of action is to start with the absolute knowns and let your captors take the conversational wheel. After all, they've already taken the literal one! The optimal place to start, for instance, is with the incontrovertible fact that your kidnappers are kidnappers. Try something simple."Sooooo, you're kidnappers, huh?" It may seem forced, but your kidnappers are just as afraid of awkward silence as you are, and clichéd conversation starters are clichéd for a reason: they work.

If your kidnappers are miraculously immune, either due to lack of ears or lack of fragile egos, it doesn't hurt to have a follow up line prepared ahead of time, something like "You know, my great grandfather was a kidnapper; I guess that makes me 25% kidnapper! Err, no. 12.5% I guess, right?" This example is a particularly good backup for several reasons:
  • The botched arithmetic provides sufficient evidence that this is not some sort of pre-rehearsed line.
  • The botched arithmetic also opens up the conversation to the discussion of botching arithmetic, a topic with which your unemployed fashion designer captors are doubtlessly familiar.
  • It opens up the conversation for the discussion of great grandfathers; everyone has four of these by the very nature of existing. 
  • The quasi-rhetorical nature of the closing question invites the kidnappers to respond, but preserves your dignity if they choose not to.
In the case that neither of these approaches work, it is quite likely you aren't being kidnapped at all and are instead being delivered to a surprise party of some sort. Hope you remembered your cyanide pills!