At first, it all seemed so very “meta:”
Just a tip basket on the railing of a footbridge next to the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park (Georgia O’Keeffe fans, rejoice–the retrospective is excellent). No musician, no artist, no writer, no poet, no actor, no mime. Just the tip basket. Busking as conceptual art, I thought; ingenious!
Then the saxophone made itself heard.
I leaned over the railing and observed this gentleman:
So he was collecting tips from two different locations, and trusting that no one would swipe his earnings from the bridge. Impressive faith in humanity! However, I observed that the tip basket had grown full, and remembering the Social Experiment in the Office (Part I here, and Part II there), I chose to serve my fellow artist by adding a dollar of my own and lowering the basket to him using the twine taped to the basket’s handle.
“Wait, wait! Don’t lower it yet!”
This came from a 20-ish young lady with dark brown hair. She fetched a dollar bill of her own from her purse, added it to the pot, and then gave me permission to lower the basket.
This came from another 20-ish young lady with dark brown hair. She fetched a dollar bill of her own from her purse, added it to the pot, and then gave me permission to lower the basket.
This time I did succeed in lowering the basket. The saxophonist expressed his thanks for our help and offered to play requests for his supporters.
I moved on, having chores to run, plays to write, scripts to mail, acting to practice, et cetera. Could not help but wonder, though: had I accidentally conducted my own accidental social experiment?
The unanswerable question: would the young ladies have contributed to the support of live music in San Francisco had I not made an effort to present the musician with all of the money that he earned?
Honestly, I have no idea.
Vonn Scott Bair