The mind is a funny thing.
I was recalling a quirky event at the Minnesota State Fair. I’d attended this past August with some childhood buddies.
We were chatting on a bench when a precocious little girl approached me holding two flowers. A bashful mother stood ten feet away, holding a bouquet, watching her daughter make the pitch.
“Would you like to buy a flower, mister?”
It was impossible not to smile. “They sure are pretty,” I said. “How much?”
This was way too much but the kid was cute and I had the cash.
Then she revealed her sales skill far exceeded her age. “Both of them?” she lit up, making direct eye contact.
Shocked at her fearlessness, I was putty in her hands.
“Sure,” I chuckled as I handed her a twenty dollar bill.
Mom rewarded me with a shy smile and mouthed a silent thank-you.
Off they went to sell the rest. This duo was unstoppable.
Despite being fleeced out of twenty bucks, I was feeling good about helping the kid.
A few minutes later, I’m talking to my buddy, two unwanted flowers in my hand, when a borderline bag lady interrupts.
Her aged eyes big, slightly crazed, she walks directly to me.
“Those sure are pretty flowers.”
“They are, aren’t they?” I say, sizing up the weirdness.
“I wish I had flowers like those.”
“Would you like to have them?”
“Oh, I sure would!”
Her face lights up as I hand them over.
“Thank you, thank you!”
Off she walks, crazily focused on nothing but the flowers.
I’m feeling pretty good about that exchange too. It takes so little to delight someone who could use some joy. My twenty bucks lit up three people and made me feel good twice. Plus I got rid of flowers I didn’t want to carry anyway.
I was relaxing into that warm, 5-month-old memory when my mind tossed out a surprise.
And made a connection I’d never seen coming.
Those three people were working together! I bet the bag lady was the grandmother, the mom was her daughter and the kid was the grandchild.
They walked the fairgrounds using that kid to sell the overpriced flowers. Bag lady grandma followed a few minutes behind to recollect them to be sold again.
I bet this trio was pulling in hundreds (or thousands!) reselling that same bouquet of flowers! The return on investment must’ve been a thousand to one.
What a beautiful con! It was so perfect because even now, I’m glad I participated. The two pleasant exchanges, plus the delayed realization of their skill, gall, acting and costuming, were worth every penny of those twenty bucks.
You gotta appreciate talent when you see it.
And you have to appreciate the human mind that still makes new connections months after old events.
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