Sunday, March 09, 2008

Old Geeks Doing Old Geeky Shit

paul chiaroscuro
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
Yesterday, I organized a piece of surprisingly lame performance art - possibly the most unnoticed flash mob ever. The idea was great and the participants were great but damn Ingles: they foiled my genius plans by a simple act of uncaring technological change. I hate it when that happens.

You see, a month or two ago, I was in the self checkout line at Ingles, as I so often am, and the cute hipster boy in line behind me scanned his Ingles Advantage card at exactly the same time I scanned mine, which made our robot cashiers spout out "Welcome, Ingles Advantage Card Holder" in spooky and surprisingly loud unison. It was hilarious and creepy and also, Hollywood, it would have made a really cute meet if I was flirtier and single and younger and cuter, because then we could have laughed sheepishly at each other and started talking and walked out the supermarket to, I don't know, be shot at by random drug lords or abducted by aliens or have to flight the Blob in the weird meat aisle or something. I give you this idea, Hollywood, for free. At any rate, it stuck in my head as cool (the robots in unison, not the guy, although he was cute) and it occurred to me that doing it with FOUR people would be super rockin' cool and a nifty kind of performance art piece.

Enter too much beer on Friday night, J & S & Z & H and lo, before I knew it, we had plans to meet at the Ingles, dressed in black, to synchornizedly make our way through the self checkout and in the process, record the whole thing for posterity or Youtube, whichever comes first, on S' video camera and A's various recording devices. So I emailed A and he was up for it and then we all met, dressed in black, at the Haywood Road Ingles at 3:30 yesterday afternoon. Two people had dropped out, but by wonderful synchronicity we ran into P, pictured here later that evening. and he agreed to be the fourth weirdo, even though he wasn't wearing black. But then, after all, it is West Asheville and there were already four disaffected hipsters in black at the self checkout when I got there.

We were a little nervous about the Ingles people maybe arresting us or something but I reassured everyone that actually, noone was going to arrest us: we are old geeks. Doing something old and geeky. This is not a crime but more the kind of thing that supermarket staff look upon with bemused tolerance and the sincere wish that the old geeks would go away as soon as possible. Also, most of us are, like, regular customers at that Ingles - they're not going to toss us out for anything short of total mayhem.

So we wandered around the store for a while (first time I've ever had a social event at the supermarket) and then met up by the self checkout. As soon as they were deserted, we went into action. It was a little confusing due to lack of coordination, rehearsal or any of those good things (hey, it was me who was organizing it, so, uh, yeah) but we kind of got it going. Four people, four Ingles cards, four baskets full of random groceries, all scanning at once. It should have been awesome. Unfortunately, though, the machines were so not loud you couldn't really hear the synchronization at all. I mean the canned voices were ridiculously quiet. Even though the store wasn't busy, you couldn't hear the incredible coolness of the robots saying the same things at the same time above the muzak. And, to add insult to injury, the cashiers, security and etc. didn't even notice us or care, despite the fact that S was boldly filming away from the frozen foods aisle. And also, in a side note, it's too bad that the self checkout robot doesn't loudly announce what you're buying, because that would be hilarious.

So we did it but it kind of fizzled, alas. Ingles, clearly anticipating unauthorized art, must have turned the volume down. Damn the Man, I say. Turning the sound down! Still, we tried. Then we went on over to S' house to celebrate Mojo's first birthday with beer and many snacks and a good time was had by all and perhaps some day we will get a super amazing flash mob with synchronized robot sounds that really pays off. Or just drink beer.


skippy haha said...

this is AWESOME hangoverjournals! beautiful idea & kudos to you all for following through & getting away with it.

zen said...

AHA! I've found an Ingles with loud self-checks AND it's open 24 hours, Store #130 the one on Long Shoals Road out Arden way. We really ought to practice (along with a couple of physical flourishes (like synchronized swimming) and then hit the place at 2 AM.

Gordon Smith said...

I'm in if you need another warm body

Jessica said...

I agree! I go to the Long Shoals Ingles and it is SO embarrassing when I go through self check out with beer because it screams "PLEASE SHOW THE CASHIER YOUR ID NOW" and then everyone looks at you like "how dare you - on a Sunday afernoon??"
I have the great pleasure of working with zen and he has introduced me to your blog. LOVE it. We were talking about your Ingles performace art. I can't wait to see the YouTube video on this one.

Jennifer Clevenger said...

Seriously, you must post the YouTube link.