Tuesday, February 28, 2006

In Which I Save the World with Mardi Gras Beads

So the U.S. has a service economy these days. Then where is the service?

So everybody wishes people would treat each other the way they would treat themselves, just like in the good old days. Well, who’s going to start?

I am about to give you The Way to Make People Behave. Not all people. Some people will always be asshats no matter what you do. Don’t let them stop you from trying The Way to Make People Behave.

I’ve noticed that people will do just about anything for a string of plastic Mardi Gras beads, including exposing parts of their body that they normally keep covered even in the locker room. I’m not sure if they know that they can get them by the dozen at the party store. Let’s not tell them, because this craving for Mardi Gras beads is vital to my plan.

Here’s the plan: say a grocery store checker notices that there is one of those coupons attached to your package of bacon which would give you an extra dollar off if you had seen it, removed it, and handed it to your checker. She takes the coupon off herself and gives you the dollar off.

I know. This would never really happen, but imagine. Or maybe she finally puts the eggs on top in the grocery bag instead of under the gallon of milk.

People need to know that you appreciate the little things. “Thank-you” won’t do, because it has become a preprogrammed response, like “did you find everything all right?” So here’s the plan: when something like this happens, reach into your pocket and pull out a string of Mardi Gras beads and give them to her with a short explanation. Tell her to put them on, and pass them on if somebody does something nice for her.

Soon all the nice people will have beady badges of honor around their neck, and everyone else will be trying to earn their own beads by being nice too.

I know. They are cheap and easy to come by. Asshats could buy their own. Yeah, but they won’t be the same and everyone will know. The fact that they are cheap will just make it that much easier to get everyone involved in giving them away.

Incentives don’t have to be expensive or useful. Think of the points that kids play video games so hard to accumulate. Can they buy anything with them? Are they good to eat? No. But it hasn’t effected the popularity of video games any, has it?

Eventually, with my plan fully in effect, everyone will be nicer and everyone will be more colorful. And the Mardi Gras bead making plants in China will experience a happy boom in business. There’s no downside.

So hit the party store tomorrow. The Mardi Gras beads will probably be on sale.

You’re welcome.

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