We have to be very careful when we take advise from folk. Today I proved without doubt that happy noise is good.
I have been teaching Eikaiwa to a marketing expert who works for a very large Japanese firm. This person mentioned he had seen our guys in the streets of Kyobashi and had some advice for me.
He said that our guys were too direct, “in your face” and that we should back off (relax) a bit, take it easy and be more gentle in our approach. I was told Japanese people are quiet in the morning and don’t like noise or in your face kind of people.
Wow, O.K. I thought this man should know. Maybe we are too loud. So for many weeks now I have been taking it easy out there. Quietly doing my flyers. The number of flyers didn’t change at all. I didn’t see more or less flyers going out. Problem was that I wasn’t having fun anymore!
I have always liked using my voice. For a short time as a young boy I had the chance to do some part time work for a fruit shop in East London. The owner of the shop (my uncle) taught me to “cry” out to passers by and tell them how wonderful our fruit was. Although my adolescent voice didn’t carry far I enjoyed the work and did my best. Later in life as a non commissioned officer in the Royal Australian Army I was taught to shout out parade ground commands to as many as 200 men at a time. I had to shout out in a very loud clear voice that could be heard by everyman on the parade ground. You have to know with two hundred pairs of boots marching on asphalt you need to yell very loud to be heard. Actually this took some voice training and many days I would come back to my room from the parade ground with no voice at all. However gradually the timber developed in my voice I I enjoyed my work as a parade officer.
The next chance I had came many years later when a Japanese friend of mine asked if I would do a favor for his father who owned a butcher shop inside a Hankyu department store. He asked me if I would stand in front of the shop and hand out flyers for an Australian meat fair. I reminded him that although I did live in Australia fro many years I am British. He said it didn’t matter and so as I was on holiday from work I agreed. To my surprise when I went down into the basement of Hankyu I found many vendors behaving just like East London Hawkers. They were crying out to passers by about their goods. So I thought, “Why Not?” My first cry was kind of timid, after all I was standing in the middle of Hankyu. It didn’t take long though for my East London fruit shop and Royal Australian Army training to come blasting out. There is was. Bang! I let it go at full blast. A triple banger. “Ozi Beef Fair, Come and get it” “Come and Get Your Ozi Beef” “One Day Only. This is your chance” I tell you every hawker in the place went silent. They just all stopped dead and looked to see where that noise came from! The place was shocked. I just kept going and soon they all got back to work. I was a real laugh. Needless to say the butcher was delighted and his store quickly filled as this crazy foreigner custom built melodic phrases and blasted them out across the floor.
Today I tossed that take it easy advice out the window. I decided to do some Hawking. I had a ball crying out to passers by. “Today is Wonderful Wednesday” ‘Smile it will change your life” “Come on now Give me a Smile” My flyer team helper just fell over laughing. Pretty soon the thousands of passers by were giggling and laughing. Small groups of young woman and men formed as many slowed their morning pace to see just what was going on. Smiles were everywhere. The entire Kyobashi Prominard was alive.
It been a long time since I cried out as an East London Hawker. But today the parade ground was mine. I am not sure if anyone will sign up at our English School in Kyobashi but two things are certain. Kyobashi is a happier place today and I had a whole lot of fun.
My advice, do what makes you happy.