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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Not very magical, still... » » Impossible tasks for hecklers? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

JJDrew
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Loyal user
Arizona
221 Posts

Profile of JJDrew
I work in a magic store located, unfortunately, in a mall. On occasion some rather obnoxious characters decide to go to the magic store and bug the magician (I'm sure it happens in other stores as well, but I think we get more than the normal amount).

Today we were besieged by two 12 year old boys who knew everything, thought everything was dumb, and could do everything themselves anyway, the sort of people that want you to waste your time doing tricks for them so they can try to catch you out.

I responded as usual by declining to perform and responding to their questions as politely as I could, but these two really began to get under my skin. The asked repeatedly, and I mean REPEATEDLY to be allowed to examine the magic light bulb and the nickels to dimes to attempt to decipher their mechanisms. My coworker had already refused the privilege (I could see why, they were extremely impolite to him) and I supported his decision.

As they were making their requests I was fiddling with two small-carved pieces of wood. One was in the shape of a ring and the other was in the shape of a spool. I got these at a pet store for my parrot to chew on and was sort of messing around with them to see if they might be useful for some sort of magic effect. The ring had a diameter that almost, but not quite, allowed it to fit over the end of the spool (its widest point).

Finally, fed up, I held up these two items and said that I had bought them at a puzzle store a week before, and that the ring was supposed to somehow fit onto the spool but that I couldn't figure out how it was supposed to work. I said that if they wanted to figure something out, maybe they could help me with the problem. They asked me if I would teach them the two tricks that interested them if they were able to solve the puzzle and I happily agreed. This bargain struck, they went to work.

They tried to cram that ring over the end of that spool for two solid hours.

They tried to find some hidden mechanism in both the spool and the ring.

They enlisted the help of other customers in their endeavor.

They became convinced that the guy at the puzzle shop had pulled some sort of trick and had a different, larger, ring. They proceeded to "fix" the puzzle for me and whittled the interior of the ring until by golly, it fit onto that spool.

For the first half-hour, it was all I could do to keep from busting up laughing.

At the end of an hour I started to feel sort of guilty.

By the end of two hours, the boys had, somehow, become more civil and I actually found myself liking them. The guilt was gone.

Believe it or not, this impossible task I set them made me two new friends, created a great toy for my parrot (Now he gets to try and get the ring OFF the spool), and made everything have a happy ending. By the end of that time, they forgot to request their payment for solving the puzzle and were enjoying it for its own sake (if they return and request it, I'll teach them the tricks they wanted to know about). They even said that it was the best trick (by which they meant puzzle) they'd ever seen.

(They also recommended I buy a duplicate ring and use the whittled one myself to create an "I can do it and the spectator can't" style effect).

I have no idea what to make of the whole thing. Was I mean to give them the challenge? I wasn't planning on embarrassing them by ever telling them that it wasn't intended to be solvable, I just wanted them out of my hair so I could wait on other customers. I thought they'd get bored, give up, and leave.

The way it turned out, maybe I'm onto something when it comes to dealing with hard-core hecklers.

Just thought I'd share a REALLY strange experience and see what you folks thought about it.
JesterMan
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Veteran user
Maryland, USA
319 Posts

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JJ,

As my brother in law often said (maybe he still does), sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes the bear eats you. Today, enjoy your meal. Smile

Years ago I worked in exactly that same environment, the shop was one of those hole on the side of the wall type stores, no back room to hide out in, or any other means of escape.

I think that you handled it beautifully, and how nice that it even worked out for everyone involved.

JM Smile Smile
JM Smile Smile

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Reis O'Brien
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Inner circle
Seattle, WA
2467 Posts

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It sounds to me that the kids just really wanted to set their brains on fire and have fun with that. By giving them the "puzzle" to work on, you unwittingly gave them exactly what their little minds were hungry for. They probably half expected you to just kick them out. That's a fun game to play when you're 12, "Let's get kicked out of somewhere and then go to the food court and laugh about it." But you stepped up to the plate and involved them in something. I say that you handled this with serious grace and skill. They will remember you, and I bet they will be a bit more cordial the next time they come in. But then again, they're 12, so....
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A C Spectre
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New user
Connecticut
75 Posts

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JJ,
I agree with FireDice, I think they were being obnoxious in order to get a predetermined reaction from you. You, however, blew their minds by reacting in a totally unpredictable and if I may say, very gracious way. You have shown these two kids that just because someone is older than them, they aren't necessarily a stuffed shirt. Who knows, you may have even planted the seed of inspiration in one or both of these characters, but like FireDice said, let's not forget that they are 12! Either way, my hats off to you. I think what you did was great!!!!

A C Spectre
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