Coaching consumers

A while ago I read an article about teenagers hanging around on the streets, the nuisance they might cause, and the so called street coaches, who are there to make sure things don’t get out of hand. There were three boys in the associated photo and all three of them were wearing hoodies. Next to them there was the street coach in his red jacket with a logo on it, to make it clear that he is ‘at home on the street,’ which is the name of the project.
A bunch of keys was visible from under his jacket, as well as a discount card from a well-known supermarket chain. That is when I understood.
It is not hoodies or the way people dress, what they may have in common. It is the supermarket for which everyone seems to have this tiny discount card.

Years ago when I was working in a department store – one that is famous for their sausages – a great deal of annoyance was caused, when these snacks were sold out on a Saturday afternoon. The misery was easily shared by other disappointed customers. Some even were complaining at the customer service of this store.
Consumerism is what people have in common, it is what connects them and how a crowd can be affected.
Hence I suggest that all M.E. support groups in the world put themselves on sale on the next M.E. Awareness Day at May 12. Hire a stage in various department stores and get someone spirited and vigorous to inform consumers about this awful illness. I imagine that one chain of department stores has a special discount on blue towels and serves cup cakes with a blue topping in their diners. And another chain of stores can do the same for their blue underwear or smoothies. Give shops a big supply of blue till rolls and add a catchy one liner to the back of it. Make sure that stacks of flyers with information are on the counters where the sausages or other snacks are being sold. Volunteers can also go out on the streets and give shopping people the flyers or even better: put one in every hoodie that comes by.

As a street coach I would not be of any use. On my jacket it would say ‘at home on the sofa,’ But who knows… I might have a career being a M.E.ntal coach?!

So dear fellow M.E. patients, let me invite you to be part of this tongue-in-cheek way of informing people that such a thing as M.E. exists. Place a Blue Mark in or near a supermarket or department store and let it be a surprise to other consumers. It is not necessary to get this done on May 12, you can start with it already! And don’t forget to take a picture of it, so we can share it on this online art project with others.

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This post is also available in: Dutch

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