"All sorts of entertaining" - Elizabeth Seckman

"Michael and his pals make me wish I lived in Adelaide" - Cherdo

"If I had a daughter, I'd send her to Australia to meet him (and marry him)" - Robyn Alana Engel

"An Australian version of me. Only younger. And Talented. And better looking. Okay, nothing like me." - Al Penwasser

"Whom must I fuck or pay to get a quotation at the top of your blog post?" - Janie Junebug

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

New Experience Challenge Week 12: Uncomfortable

It took 12 weeks to have an experience which I really didn't like. I was messaged by my friend Henry on Facebook asking me if I wanted to take part in some hidden-camera "pranking" on Saturday. Always up for a story, I agreed.
'So what will it involve?' I asked.
'Oh, you know... mocking people, staring at them, telling bad jokes.' ...Right. I had a bad feeling about this.

I got to the Adelaide Uni where this was taking place. Henry was there with his friend Edward who was the cameraman. We were at the Hub, which is the central meeting place at the uni. We took a table and got set up.
'Okay,' said Henry. So for this one we'll ask someone for directions to another building and then when they answer we like, mock them for being such a smart ass. Like "Ooh, look at me, I'm all smart! I'm wearing a fancy shirt and I know where everything is!"'

Now could I really bring myself to do this? I've spent a lot of my life making myself likable and friendly - the type of person that makes people go "I like that guy." It kind of goes against all of that to go up to a stranger and mock them like that. I watched Henry do the first couple. He'd go up to someone and say 'Excuse me, do you know where the Barr Smith Library is?' They'd point it out and give them directions and he'd wave his arms around and go 'Oh, you take the stairs do you? Oooooh.' They'd look at him weirdly and start walking off and he'd start laughing and go 'Haha I'm sorry! We're doing a hidden camera prank. There's our camera there. Over there. That's Edward and that's Michael over there in the white t-shirt. Say hi Michael!' I'd have to lift my face out of my hands to give a half-hearted wave. I was embarrassed to just be watching.

The reactions from victims were varied and I imagine they would have been funny if I wasn't so mortified. Some of them were like "Oh, that's pretty funny. Others were like "I see..." and walked off there was one girl from Canada who was in her third week in Australia and she was actually getting upset. She was saying things like 'Well you don't have to make fun of me!' It came to an end when he did it to a girl wheeling her bike through the hub. He makes the reveal to her and she says 'Well that's not funny.' Henry says 'Do you mind if I put it on YouTube?' and she quickly and emphatically says 'No.' He starts walking back to the table and she calls out 'And you need to delete that.'

'Yeah, we will, he replied.' And we sat in silence for a moment before hearing her again. 'Are you students here?' 'I just kept my mouth shut. I've never been a uni student in my life. Henry said he was a media student and this was for his class (that was crap) and she said 'Well I work for the Vice Chancellor, so...' As if she was trying to muscle us. So at that point we left. I hadn't joined in on any of the shots, much to my relief. The next thing we were going to try was something I was much happier to be a part of.

It was one we called 'the phone stealer'. It involved person A (played by me) sitting near a person or persons in the park and putting my phone down next to me. Then person B (Henry) coming along and admiring my phone and asking if he could have it. I say yes and he thanks me and walks off. I liked it because it was cleverer and less confrontational. We went out to a grassy area by the Torrens where there were a bunch of people lying down. I went to sit down next to an older man who was reading a book and opened up a book of my own. After that came the worst acting I'd done in a while. Henry came up to me and said 'Hey, this is a nice phone.' I said 'Yeah, it's... good!' in a voice two octaves higher than normal.
'I've always wanted one of these.'
'Yeah... it's... it's an S3...'
'Can I have it?'
'Yeah sure.'
You sure?'
'Yeah!'
'Thanks man,' and he walked off. I waited there for about ten seconds and then looked at the man and said
'Did he just take my phone?'
'Yeah.' He said incredulously.
I swore under my breath and got up and chased after him, but he wasn't expecting that. He was just standing there waiting for me to tell the guy it was a prank. I kind of caught up with him, yanked back my phone and talked under my breath with him while the man watched us with distaste. Let's have another go.

We scanned the bank of the river looking for a target. We saw two men fishing on the opposite bank and so we left Edward on this side and crossed the bridge to approach them. When I sat down near them, one of them was in the middle of catching a big one. They'd even gathered a bit of a crowd. We went through the same routine, but this time we were on the same page. We pretended were were old friends who knew each other and my acting was a lot better. When he walked off with it and I turned to the two fisherman I realized that them and most of the crowd were staring at me.
'Did he just take my phone?'
'Yeah, man...' said the fisherman who'd caught the fish.
got up and chased him like last time and after watching the video feedback, I discovered that we had the whole crowd's attention for the whole race. The timing was fantastic. Once I caught him we did go back and make the reveal to them and they found it relatively funny. It was a decent end to the day, but I won't be doing it again.

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