December 13, 2010

Getting what you want from life. The Punk Rock Lollipop Study

Recently while I was out hob nobbling with hob goblins in the warehouse districts of West Oakland. One of life's subtle and very succinct messages came to me in the form of a bag of Lollipops.

   Not just any lollipops mind you but a bag of 500 Dum Dum Lollipops in assorted flavors. I had purchased the bag on a whimsical rush of childhood nostalgia a week before and had been consuming them at a alarming rate. I had made up my mind a few days before that I should place the bag in my car and find opportunity's to share my childhood joy with as many complete strangers as possible.  

     The right time presented itself on Halloween Night 2010. I had removed myself from my childless very un halloweenish neighborhood and landed my space craft at the Phenomenauts Headquarters in West Oakland.
The Phenomenauts, in case you didn't know are Space Cowboys, of the Rockabilly/Punk Rock ilk. They have for the last 14 years hosted a Halloween party at their "HQ" called "The Zombie Masquerade". While the name seems to say you must come dressed as a zombie this is not the case. All sorts of lifeforms and un-lifeforms will be drinking their own beer, moshing and consuming spirits.

    So, as I stood in the throng of people,  engaged in some interactive stretching exercise's( care of our Guests from the Land of the Rising Sun). I remembered the lollipops. I swiftly strolled to my car and fashioned a suitable bowl shaped container from a colorful plastic bag. Then filled it to the brim with equally colorful candy! Low and behold my first stranger stood only feet away. She was changing colors and expelling equally vibrant colored fluid from her face hole.

   The young woman was  very politely trying not to vomit on my car. Especially now that she saw that the owner was standing in front of her. At first she turned a greenish color at my offer. But changed her mind  and happily decided that lollipops must taste better than her mouth did at the moment. She very happily exclaimed, "Wow, and this is my favorite flavor to."  That was when it struck me in the back of my mind to pay attention to this statement and to carefully remember what would come after.

            As I made my way through the milling people both outside the building and inside I happily offered lollipops from the open bag to everyone I passed. My first circuit was rather disheartening. People being naturally distrustful these days were hesitant to accept candy from a stranger. Not everyone was so fearful of course, but people naturally being followers on the average declined the offer since no clear evidence of social acceptance was visible.
          The first 15 to 20 who said yes, cheerfully reached into the bag without looking at what was being offered.  95% of those who took what was offered without any fear of me or my gift, and also without rifling through the bag for a specific flavor, all exclaimed, "Wow, this is my favorite one."  After my first pass people realized I was exactly what I seemed to be. Just a nice guy handing out candy to people at a halloween party. No hidden agenda or evil plots against their health or happiness; so they started accepting lollipops as well.

I handed out approximately 400 lollipops. Often people came back for seconds and sometimes thirds so the group of actual individual people who took place in this study is about 180. Over 2 and half hours they got every last lollipop  I had, or that I didnt eat myself.

As I stated a shocking 95% of all people who took what was offered without reservation believed they had received exactly what they were looking for. Only 10 or 15 people who were offered candy either refused outright or politely declined.  Another 20 people spent upwards of 1 to 2 minutes hunting through the massive pile of assorted flavors looking for their favorite ones. Only 2 of the people who hunted through the bag found the one they wanted.
  All the others who had done so had either settled on one they didnt mind, or gave up and told me I didnt have the flavor they liked. I asked them what that flavor was?   2/3 of those who told me the flavor they wanted were surprised when I pulled the sought after flavor from the bag with little searching needed.

  Only one woman who did not find her flavor in the bag still got the lollipop she wanted. She had spent the most time of  all searching for the perfect candy for her halloween night. Only to exclaim after 5 minutes that she couldnt find what she wanted.  It just so happened that I had engaged in some bartering outside with a large Roman Centurion who wanted a handful of dum dums. In trade he had given me two SKULLY POPS. Which are white and purple grape flavored, lollipops shaped like a human skull. The sad woman was dressed in full garb for Dias De Los Meurtos, (The Mexican Festival of The Dead)  I reached in my pocket and offered the skully pop. She began to grin from ear to ear and happily told me, "This is just what I was looking for."

From a scientific  point of view. 95% of people who had no expectations about what was offered; personally believed they had found the exact thing they were looking for. While those who became picky about the flavor or had something so specific in mind were more likely to find disappointment. Sometimes even when the very thing they claimed they wanted was right in front of them, they could not see it.

In closing I would say this to you all. Dont get to picky about what gifts life presents to you. You may find yourself staring right through the one thing you always thought you wanted. You may look so hard for the right thing, that you will never get anything. Standing there disappointed about your life and what it has for you. All the while you will  be standing on what you need.

  Be joyful and know what direction you want wish to go in life.  Dont get caught up in how you get there. If you can manage to accept the joys and surprises of your life you may, (95% chance) find exactly what you are looking for.

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