Making Your Jaw Drop

Do you remember that initial moment when you discovered something that made your jaw drop? The first time I flew at age nine, my jaw dropped. My first flight also happened to take place a week after the horrifying crash in Sioux City, Iowa, of a United jet. Let’s just say I was a bit nervous.

I originally had the middle seat, but a very kind lady offered her window seat so I could see everything. Flying into Las Vegas, at night, was incredible. The lights from the Strip were visible from miles away. For a girl used to living out in the country, with her closest neighbor a quarter-of-a-mile away, it didn’t seem real.

As you get older, the jaw-dropping moments become fewer in number, but no less desirable. What I’ve found interesting is the increasing number of people who are certain they can make your jaw drop. Realistically, not everyone can be a Steve Jobs presenting an iPod or iPhone, but that doesn’t keep people from trying. Then, it becomes a question of authenticity.

More companies than I care to think about settle for over-promising instead of delivering a real jaw dropper. Infomercials are a perfect example of this practice. We’re talking about kitchen gadgets, weight-loss supplements, or exercise equipment. These categories are not jaw dropping, but marketers frame them as such. This inaccurate positioning does little to convince the viewer logically of a product’s value. But because we want to have a jaw-dropping experience, we call the 800 number and agree to three easy payments. Invariably, we’re disappointed because it isn’t real.

The disappointment doesn’t keep us from searching for the next one. I think that’s why you see lines snaking around Apple stores for hours on end. We’re willing to keep trying to satisfy the need to be amazed. We enjoy the rush of adrenaline, the initial moment of awe where our brain can only say, “Wow. That’s so cool.” I only wish it lasted a bit longer, because once it’s over, the hunt for the next moment is on again. And I’m afraid a knife that can slice through cans or shoes isn’t going cut it (pun intended).



1 Response to “Making Your Jaw Drop”

  1. 1 Shannon Ehlers
    September 2, 2007 at 12:35 am

    Amazingly, this may have been the most moving thing I’ve read in a long time. The reason I say ‘amazingly’ is that it is your allusion to the crash of flight 232 that moved me. At the time this happened, it was actually pivotal for me. I lived less than an hour away from Sioux City (I have for most of my life and still do), and this was a true “jaw-dropper” for me.

    I hadn’t ever flown at the time, and I wouldn’t for at least another ten years. When that crash happened, though, it affected me so personally on so many levels. I was working at the lumber yard in my hometown. When the news came over the television there, my mother and grandmother were in Sioux City, visiting my Aunt who lives there. I had no idea whether they were alright or if anyone had gotten hurt beyond the casualties reported.

    After verifying that my family was all fine, I just watched the news come in and remember the feeling that I had as I watched. It was a feeling I would only experience a few times, most strongly during the events of September 11, 2001.

    A few days later, my boss at the lumber yard, who was a volunteer firefighter and EMT, was called to go and provide support at the scene of the crash. His official reason for being there was to search for body parts. It just seemed every day that something worse came up.

    Sorry if my comments took away from the direction of your posting. I know that the type of jaw dropping events you were focusing on had positivity associated with them, but this brought back all kinds of memories for me and made me think about all of this all over again.

    I think that the moments that bring out these strong emotions, whether they are good or bad, really are like footnotes in our lives – they help to mark imortant points and to explain some of the backstory.

    Thanks for this opportunity you gave me.

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August 2007
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