100 Free Pencils

So, I was thinking last night, “Why don’t I ever see people giving away free stuff, with no catch?” And then I realized it was because I wasn’t giving out free stuff!

So, this morning I bought 100 pencils, a sharpener, and a sign. I went to Davis Square, set up a small table, and proceeded to convince strangers to accept a free pencil from me. It was awesome. Took me four hours to go through them all. For those non-math folks out there, that’s 25 pencils an hour or 0.417 pencils a minute.

Most people were very suspicious that it was all free. Some noted the CVS logo on the pencils and thought I was some experimental shill for CVS. But I just happened to buy their cheap pencils, folks!

I did meet some cool people. There was this sociologist lady that was curious about the whole thing, a dude on a unicycle with his kids, and various friendly groups of people. A lot of kids liked pencils (I brought paper for the kids too), though their moms were a bit nervous.

The trick was to offer out a pencil towards them so they knew that they could just grab and run if they wanted. That way, they were less likely to suspect some trap.

Nick helped me out after a few hours (he had other things to do most of the day). Naturally, we documented it with some photos.

11 thoughts on “100 Free Pencils”

  1. Hey, check out freecycle.org. A whole community of people who give stuff away free to each other on a daily basis. Very refreshing.

  2. Cool… next time it would be neat to give away a pencil *and* a small notepad to each person, perhaps contained in a small plastic bag. Would be interesting to see how many more people would take it. Of course, it would take significantly more work to put together than just giving out pencils…

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