In my previous post on Silicon Valley Code Camp, I mentioned that there were a lot of people making the rounds. And by “a lot,” I mean several thousand. That’s a lot of people to talk to (we try to talk to everyone), and at the end of two days of pressing the flesh in the Northern California sunshine, you can get a little…goofy. A little weird.
Since we had to pre-ship everything we intended to give away, we didn’t have any of our bulkier items available at the table. What we did have were giant stacks of brochures and notebooks, including a couple thousand of our popular “hello world” notebooks.
Near the end of day two we were down to about 100 notebooks, but the crowds were thinning out. We didn’t want to carry any of the notebooks back with us in our luggage, so we began to hype and promote them.
Since we were punch drunk, bedraggled and knackered by that point, our notebook promotion turned into a series of ridiculous sideshow barker-style pitches, shouted in the general direction of whoever passed by the table.
“LADIES AND GENTLEMEN WHAT YOU SEE BEFORE YOU ARE GENUINE GRAPH PAPER NOTEBOOKS. THEY’RE HERE, THEY’RE REAL, AND THEY’RE GUARANTEED!”
“YOU KNOW ‘EM, YOU LOVE ‘EM – NOTEBOOKS! VERY SPECIAL BOOKS FOR YOUR VERY SPECIAL THOUGHTS! THOUGHTS LIKE YOURS, SIR! YES, YOURS!”
“YOU’VE HEARD THE TALES OF THE GRAPH PAPER NOTEBOOKS! WELL, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN I’M HERE TO TELL YOU THAT THEY ARE QUITE REAL, AND CAN ACTUALLY BE YOURS AT ABSOLUTELY NO CHARGE TO YOURSELVES OR YOUR LOVED ONES!”
While we did get more than a few “What’s wrong with you?” looks, most people were amused and happily relieved us of the remaining notebooks. But we still had a stack of brochures to get rid of. A brochure isn’t exactly a utilitarian item like a notebook though, so they aren’t as easy to get into people’s hands.
Most people didn’t have much need for a napkin, but they were intrigued, so slowly but surely, the napkin-wrapped brochures disappeared, until every brochure, napkin, notebook and shred of dignity that we arrived with were gone.
It was an act of exhausted desperation, hamminess and self-amusement, but somehow everything came together at that particular moment, and it worked.
I can’t guarantee that we’ll put on a show for you at the next code camp we attend, but stop by and say hello anyway, and maybe – just maybe – you’ll walk away with a GENUINE, FREE NAPKIN!
(or item of equal value, subject to availability and local regulations.)