Fitzgerald (left) basking in the fruits of his Machiavellian mind games.
In a groundbreaking act of psychological manipulation, LSA senior Bret Fitzgerald wrote down his own name and email on the Festifall contact sheet for the University chapter of Relay For Life, a club he already belongs to.
“It was already five past eleven and nobody was really coming over to us,” Fitzgerald said. “So, I spun the email signup sheet around and made myself contact numero uno. I then spun it back to the outer edge of the table, real coy-like. That’s when the masses came flooding in. Suckers.”
“People would walk by and then see that other people were signing up and it all snowballed from there,” fellow ‘Relay’ tabler Kendra Page explained. “It’s not enough these days to have a colorful, illustrated poster board, a smile, and a ten yards’ gaze—sometimes while tabling, you have to play dirty.”
Although the maneuver worked for a while, Fitzgerald said, the early influx of visitors to their booth was unfortunately not sustainable.
“It was bizarre. Suddenly, I was starting to lose their attention, so I knew I had to do something, and fast,” Fitzgerald explained. “I felt backed into a corner, so I threw hard candy all over the table, and, by God, I won them over all over again. They came back. They were all then just eating out of my hands.”
In addition to putting out free hard candy, Fitzgerald and Page improvised additional recruitment strategies throughout the day.
“In lulls, I would start yelling a fake conversation with Bret using canned lines like, ‘So what does the Michigan chapter of Relay For Life do?’ and ‘Wow, the Michigan chapter of Relay For Life seems pretty rad,’” Page explained. “Little did the crowd know, but I was a plant.”
While passers-by could not see through the tablers’ “impenetrable mind games,” some of the neighboring booths started to catch on to Fitzgerald and Page’s tricks.
“Midway through Festifall, the Kendo club next to us started to catch on to our game, and we actually ended up teaching them a thing or two,” Page said. “Let’s just say that me and the Kendo guys are pretty cool now. We even swapped lines at Festifall for a while—for fun! I was like ‘M Kendo! Join M Kendo, folks!’ for a sec there.”
Fitzgerald ultimately chalks up the night as a major success for Relay For Life.
“Our retention rate from the email signup was very impressive, to say the least,” he said. “I would guess we had ten, fifteen people in the room at our mass meeting. Fresh blood! I’m so glad our scheme paid off. Although, now I get duplicates of every email thanks to Marnie fucking typing my name into the listserv a second time.”