The Performer


For 30 kuai, you could be the owner of a wooden charm, guaranteed to bear good results in whichever form you prefer: wealth, luck, or something else. The performance, however, is free – whether your contextual background frames this train-based vendor as a huckster or a bearer of good fortune.

His presentation fuses elements of a more analogue/traditional seller’s pitch (big promises of great benefit/value, wide hand gestures and animated body language, a nicely pressed shirt) with flourishes of the new (a wearable microphone/speaker, a card with his cellphone number bearing a promise of satisfaction guarantee and directions for ordering future charms). How does (the appearance of) future availability (suppose the phone number and name on the card isn’t real) affect present willingness to purchase?


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