June 10th, 2008

little blue dog

17.8 hours in a day

"How are you doing sir!" He sticks his hand out in a terse gesture of insincere camaraderie.

"Fine, thanks. Hey, my hands are dirty, sorry."

His cheerful grin does not waver. "Have a minute? There are one thousand and sixty-eight per day, I only need one."

It sounds so rehearsed that I figure it has to be a setup: if I give in, he's got me; if I correct his math, somehow he'll turn it in to a lead-in for his shpiel. Clever! I smile and shrug, walking on.

Personally, I would be about a hundred times as likely to stop and talk to a sidewalk solicitor if he just stood there passively, smiling at passersby, maybe advertising his cause on his t-shirt (e.g., "PLEASE ASK ME ABOUT CHILDREN'S INTERNATIONAL" or "I'D LIKE TO TELL YOU ABOUT GREENPEACE"), so that at a glimpse you could ascertain at least an idea of what you're in for.

Seriously, these people are the IRL equivalent of pop-up windows.

But in a commercial environment where the type of consumer they should be targeting (savvy, sympathetic, and having some disposable cash to pitch toward their cause) is used to having more and more control about what he chooses to pay attention to, obtrusive advertising is less and less likely to have any effect other than by brute force bullying (a la Dave Chappelle's "what if the internet was a shopping mall" sketch) and/or subtle manipulation of social etiquette (I mean gosh, it's rude not to shake someone's hand when it's extended toward you, isn't it?). Apparently it works, but that doesn't make me feel very proud of my average fellow human.

Of course, even a hundred times one chance in a million is a pretty slim probability, but still.