What: Solicited people’s help
Why: People are not used to help solicitors
How: offered something good: chocolates
When: September, 2010
Where: 7th ave and 18th st, New York
I wanted to test how people would react if we took some annoying situations and, at the same context, used it for the opposite purpose.
My idea was to take the exactly same scene of people soliciting help but, instead of begging for money, offer something that almost everybody would enjoy: chocolates.
First, I took a box and wrote with sharpie (exactly as I see most part of homeless people do): “I NEED YOUR HELP. I have all these chocolates but I’m on a diet. Can you take some?. I went then to a sidewalk and sit beside my sign, and waited.
Some people didn’t notice, others laugh, but just a few people stopped. First, they were more curious about what it was than the chocolate itself. As the time was passing, I started to directly offer, instead of waiting for someone to come.
The second part of this prototype was inside the subways, where I had a much more active reception. I tried three times, and I would always come up with the same speech (also pretty similar to those I’m used to watch): – I’m sorry to bother you. My name is Isadora. And I just want to wish you all a great day and offer some chocolate. It’s free.
At the first iteration, there were a lot of kids in the train and they seamed really excited about this idea. A lot of people took it. On another train, I repeated the same speech, but nobody accepted.
Finally, on my third tentative, I decided to try to make people laugh and I added the comment about being on a diet and that they should help me lose weight. It was pretty successful, people with all ages were laughing and taking my chocolates.