I decided to give this a try and I have to say that the Mall mission was very difficult for me. It's Memorial Day weekend and the malls are packed, but as easy as the newbie mission sounds, it's tough for me. Two reasons, one is a lame excuse and the other, in my opinion, is valid. The lame excuse - There are so many people and none make eye contact. It feels very strange saying hi to someone while they are walking through the mall. The second excuse is that I'm a 39 year old public school teacher in a mall full of students (both current and former). I didn't see many attractive females over the age of 18 and the last thing I need is to come off as pedo to a student that recognizes me. I tried doing this on Saturday and again today at a different mall. Very difficult for me.
Fortunately, I'm reading Rules of the Game by Strauss. His first assignment is to make small talk with 5 random strangers. Male/female/young/old...doesn't matter. So I tried this. I had to hit two grocery stores for some supplies. Since the second mall was also close by I decided I'd hit it as well.
My five victims:
Grumpy old man - I hit him easily as I entered the 1st grocery store. Moving slowly, I said hi and asked him how he was enjoying Memorial Day. He was friendly enough but seemed to think all days run together anymore. I immediately said aloud, "That's one!".
Cute 17-18 year old HB7 - To say I made small talk with her is stretching it. I donn't want to come off as pedo since she could be a high school kid. We intersected at the checkout lines and I said without making eye contact, "I can't figure out which one is the express lane". Totally lame, but I'm trying. She doesn't seem to respond.
Cashier at grocery store 1 - He worked at another store that was recently shuttered and so I mention that to him. He proceeds to rant about how the chain is treating him and he's now driving 40 miles round trip to get here. This guy's not a complete stranger, but since I never really had a conversation with him I grudgingly include him in my assignment.
Girl working a kiosk at the mall - I'm standing in between kiosks checking my phone when this HB 7 Israeli chick asks me where I've been her whole life. I quickly look over her kiosk to make sure she's not trying to sell me something and figure that since it's mostly girly shit I may have stumbled on a gold mine. We go back and forth about how I've been working, but I'd gladly fly her to Australia with a stop in New Zeland. She asks what I do, we speak a little Spanish and I'm thinking this can't be real, but my bullshit detector hasn't gone off. Long story short, she wants me to sit down so she can demo some skin cleanser. I'm like, FUCK!!! I politely let her do a little while I'm trying to figure out how quickly I can get out of this shit. The whole time I'm thinking this girl just played the game on me. She had a great opener and even negged me a little (apparently my skin is red and so I need to buy this shit). She eventually asked about my wife and I said yeah I'm married (lie), "Your wife will love this". I tell her I don't want to waste her time and I'm not buying anything, "Your wife will love this". I tell her I'll bring her back and if she likes it I'll buy some. Don't hold your breath. (EDIT: I just reread this and realized a perfect line might have been, "Let's get a drink tonight and I'll come back tomorrow and buy some of this"...would that have worked?)
Married couple looking at POS ice cream novelty at Macy's - I decided I had to try one more time before leaving the mall. I run through Macy's just trying to get a positive experience so I won't leave on the kiosk experience. I over hear a man telling his wife that he's not sure about this machine and they should probably just buy some Blue Bell. I quickly interject that they'd probably save money buy sticking with Blue Bell. The husband laughed heartily and the wife didn't say much. I exit as quickly as possible and figure it's time for a beer.
As I'm having a beer and feeling sorry for myself for having a shitty outing it occurs to me that Neil's homework was simply to make small talk with 5 random people. Even if they grunt or say nothing at all, just the attempt counts. I decide that the day's not a complete waste and head to grocery store 2 to try and get one last victim. The grocery store is pretty dead but at the checkout I tell the cashier, "It stinks to have to work on Memorial Day, huh?". She says yes but she's only there until 7. I agree, saying she at least gets to enjoy some of her day.
So all in all I make small talk with 5.5 people (the high school girl at grocery store 1 only counts as a .5). It's not as easy as it sounds, but I think I'm off to a decent start. Not sure what Style's homework will be for day 2, but hopefully the learning curve is gradual.
Nice write up. Keep trying