As you could read on my last post, my journey to New York was a “first”. The main idea was to “be there for CK’s Momma tree”. So this trip was planned short and compact... leaving me 2 days on location (just assuming that it would be just enough to cope with the jet lag – well, not really as you can imagine!).
Being in New York one day before the meeting, there was something I had in mind and didn’t want to miss: getting one of Roger von Oech’s Ball of Whacks. Believe me or not, I was curious about this object ever since I saw it on Roger’s blog. I had been trying to get one from Belgium and just couldn’t find the right site to order it from at the time (Sigh! I notice now that they are for sale, and apparently worldwide, on Roger's Creative Whacks Company site). And by the way, I strongly encourage you to read Roger's blog. It is full of creativity insights, ideas, brain food and also links to very nice people.
Anyway, here is my story... finding this exclusive item in New York city. To make sure I wouldn’t get lost between distances, taxi and timings, I prepared my day trip on Google Earth (perfect tool for NYC, plus viewing paths in 3D is both cool and useful for a visual mind like mine). All I needed was a store address where to find one for sure. At that stage, I made it simple... turned Skype “on” and called Roger himself (we know each other from blogging and exchanging mails every once in a while).
You see Roger was also involved in CK's Momma tree project, so he knew I was in New York for the event. This said, I understand I might have surprised him a bit calling to have a store address. Nevertheless, Roger was "there" on the phone and it was very nice talking to him for the first time (I’d love to do it to chat about another creative topic too, though!). Roger gently emailed me 2 addresses where I should be able to find the Holy Grail... woops... I mean, the Ball of Whacks (BoW) : FAO Schwarz and The MoMA Design Store.
At the end of a long shopping list day (family goodies list always comes first, right!)... there was one item left -guess what!- and a few minutes before stores close. See what I mean? Feet on fire, but I made it just on time to FAO Schwarz. I fly in... (“Hi guards!... What? Guards? Ok, guards...”) and start scanning the store, speeding through the alleys. No BoW in sight. Suddenly something happened, don’t ask me why. My mind just... zapped (you see, like when reading a book and without notice, your mind flashes out of it to create another side story):
Back to normal speed. I just realized that I was not focusing on target and that I was running out of time. Let’s go ask the concierge :
- Him : “Haaa! That thing? Yeah... we had plenty just a few days ago, then something happened... and... woosh!... ALL GONE!”
– Me : “Errrr... may I ask you what happened?”
- Him : “Sure... See, we ran out of Rubik’s cube and were looking for a good replacement in the central shelf and thought about that Ball of Whack –not to say the BoW should have never been displayed there- Then we thought it would be good to have a demonstrator there to show what could be done out of that thing.”
- Me : “Excellent, and then...?”
- Him : “That’s when people went crazy... When they saw a squirrel, a sun, a frog, and all the possible combinations... they started to buy them by packs of 3. They were like: ‘And take two more for your brothers’... kinda thing, see wat I mean? Within a few hours we were sold out. Geeee... I’m sorry Sir, there isn’t ONE left”.
I was happy to hear such a great “sale” story and to bring it back to Roger... but a bit disappointed not to find a least one left. Hopefully after checking with the concierge, I realized that I was not too far away from the MoMA and so continued my quest in that direction. Outside the store (“Bye Guards!”)... I saw a yellow tricycle parked in front of FAO. The guy sitting on it seemed to be very expressive and was laughing with a friend cyclist. So I thought I’d just double check the way to the MoMA with him. My simple question seemed to be like an MIT clue to him. He started to talk in Turkish with his friend who obviously was giving him the directions (4-5 blocks away!). He was so nice trying to translate the information to me in English –I mean with a wonderful accent and smile- that I decided to ask him to give me a ride there.
He turned a ghetto blaster on (hidden under passenger seat) and started to paddle full throttle. As we were ridding our 150 decibels of Latino hip hop RnB around 5th, I realized we were not just playing music... there was also the video clip, right between my feet, on an LCD screen ! ! ! (...found that clip on YouTube : "Jagged Edge ft Voltio: she SO amazing") - Amazing New York city indeed! (check it out).
End of the ride... MoMA Design Store. Open doors... eyes scanner “on”. Left, right, left... “Meep!”... found it: “The Ball of Whacks”! Yeeehaaa! Music, please!
Okay, this story is indeed a little “off the road”. Off regular posts maybe. But I thought I would bring it back to Roger, because I never imagined that on my simple quest to get a red rhombic triacontahedron, I would go through : Google Earth, Skype, FAO guards, giant candies, giant pianos, super-heroes, magic eyes, concierge stories, Turkish tricycle ride, Latino hip hop RnB, MoMA design and innovative items. Since none of this would have happened without aiming to the Ball of Whacks, I want to say thank you Roger for this unexpected extra-ordinary journey! Of course, I’ll come back to the Ball of Whacks in another more dedicated post... In the meantime, my learnings through all this?
- Conversation leads to very nice discoveries,
- Product demonstration (still) helps sell products,
- One product might be bought for different reasons (hint, hint!),
- People buying make more people want to buy,
- Magic... may detour us from our most determined goals,
- Surprises may be found looking down (*).
Now, if you don’t have a Ball of Whacks, go get one right now...
And if you do, go get it, because this object is magic and if you can figure out how... it will reveal its hidden secret.
Any idea of what it is? ; )
(*) PS : Maybe when we cross people in the streets who are looking down, it's because they are trying to find a surprise. Then maybe we can help them find it?