Paperclipped Their Wings

, , , , , | Friendly | September 8, 2018

(I’m a cashier at a retail chain; this location is inside a mall. One day, a couple of kids, looking around 12 years old, approach my cash register. They hold up a paperclip and explain that they’re trying to replicate the famous “one red paperclip” experiment, in which you start out with a small, low-value object, such as a paperclip, and try to obtain something of much higher value through a series of barters. They ask if there’s anything in the store I can give them in exchange for the paperclip.)

Me: “Um… no, I can’t take a paperclip as payment. I don’t think there’s any store here that will.”

(They thank me and leave. Their speech sounded rehearsed and they didn’t look discouraged in the least, so I assume that they have already tried other stores in the mall and have every intention of trying more. The next customer in line comes to the counter.)

Customer: “Well, that was… bold.”

(I’ve actually always wanted to try this experiment myself, and the original “one red paperclip” experiment is possibly older than those kids are, so I’m rather impressed that they’ve heard of it and that they had the initiative to go for it. I guess they didn’t understand that you trade the items with people, and not stores. I wish I could track them down and find out if their experiment got anywhere!)

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