Flash mobs, Mormons and other things

A few weeks ago while on a hike with the kids and a few others from the hiking group, I met a guy who was involved with an area Geocaching group so I joined it a few days later. Turns out, these people pull occasional flash mobs in Albany and Corvallis with a surprisingly large turnout. On Saturday morning, me, Payton and Spessa’s kids drove to Target to cheer for shoppers coming to the doors, as if they were winning a race. They had a finish line banner for them to break through and there were a few signs that people were holding. I was going to make some posterboard signs, but instead I decided to whip up these buttons to hand out to the winners:

Here’s a picture of the flash mob crowd several minutes before the event started:

This is us, lined up on either sides of the doors, waiting for the next victim:

And here’s a father, running towards the finish line with his son in his hands, thankfully not tripping and falling on the way:

I managed to get a parking spot close to Target so I could point my camera out the window of my car as the event happened. I also tuned my scanner to Target’s frequencies, hoping to hear employees talking about us, but I only heard one thing which I think was related to us and it wasn’t that hilarious. I had a digital recorder with me to record the sound up close.

Even though I told the other guy with the camera that I was videotaping from the back of my car, which I pointed out to him, he decided to stand directly in front of my window for most of the flash mob, rendering my already spotty video even crappier. If I’d known there would be such a large turnout (at least 40 people) for this event, I would have just held my camera with me since I’d probably be unnoticed in the middle of the crowd. I was only expecting maybe a dozen of us to show up. Here’s my video:

Everyone had a really great time with this. Most of the customers entering the store seemed to think it was hilarious. A lot of them ran through the crowd, reveling in the cheers, raising their arms in victory and breaking through our finish line. Some took pictures. Others were too shy to deal with large crowds screaming at them, so they went to the side of us instead.

I was really hoping for some conflict with mall security, Target managers and/or the police. Especially the security guy that works at Target who doubles as their floor sweeper. I would have been thrilled to have been asked to leave by any of those people. But only the Target manager came out near the beginning, asking who was in charge and what we were doing. I told her corporate said it was okay, but she ignored me. After a couple minutes of questioning us, she smiled as she ran through the finish line and back into Target as we all cheered for her. For the rest of the event, quite a few Target employees gathered at the doors to watch us from inside.

Fifteen minutes later, we quit on our own. It’s too bad we couldn’t have continued for another 15 minutes, but I guess the organizers wanted to keep it short to lessen the chance of us getting on everyone’s nerves and/or getting thrown off the premises. It was a great time and I can’t wait for the next one.

11/11/2008 EDIT: A picture of the mob was in yesterday’s newspaper with a short paragraph about the event. This seems counterproductive to a flash mob. Isn’t the point to weird people out without them ever knowing who you are? Here’s the picture, click it to enlarge:

click to enlarge

11/13/2008 EDIT: PabloMac uploaded his video and it has considerably less ass in it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=whTkx-63AeM

Later that day, the Spessas and I took the kids to the Wunderland, which is a nickle arcade in Salem. They left this afternoon, and I took Emily and Payton to Springfield with me since I needed to visit Best Buy. While we were there we saw Madagascar at the theater. It’s a movie I didn’t necessarily want to see, but I still enjoyed it a lot.

On the way out of Best Buy, the security alarm went off. I did what I always do in this situation – I yelled to the kids, “RUN!!!” and I bolted out the door. I was hoping for a chase, but it never happens. The only place I’ve ever been chased was at Wal-Mart where the old lady at the door walked after me (running would have been too strenuous on her) saying, “Sir? Sir? Please come back!” (By the way, I wasn’t shoplifting at Best Buy. They just forgot to deactivate my tag since I bought it from the return desk.)

On Friday afternoon I came home and decided to check my mailbox which is out on the sidewalk. I rarely check it since all my mail goes to my PO Box, and it was filled with a huge pile of junk mail as usual. As I was opening the box I spotted 4 young men in suits getting out of their car. Mormons! I had one of those movie moments where I’m frantically trying to get the key into the lock to escape the impending conversation. I wasn’t quick enough, though. As I pulled my junk mail out one of them walks up and cheerfully says, “Hi there!”


“That’s sure a lot of mail you’ve got there!”


“How are you doing today?”

“I really don’t want to talk to you. Bye!”

“Do you know of anyone who might need help from us?” he asked as I turned to leave.

I quickly walk back to my house. As I shut my door I turn to notice that they didn’t see which apartment I went into. A minute later I watch as two of them begin knocking on every door in the complex. The other two, I assume, went into the other neighborhood.

So I did what any other normal person would do. I took off my pants, put on the weirdest pair of boxers I own (red ants all over them) and grabbed my video camera. When they knocked I ran down the stairs, quickly shoved my cat into a closet to keep him from running out the door, flung open the door and screamed, “I am the true lord of the dance! No matter what those idiots at work say!” and then I slammed the door on them. I videotaped it all, of course, and you can click here to see the video.

It’s hard to see their expressions in the YouTube video, so here’s a frame capture from the DV version.

I’ll leave it up to the viewers to decide what emotion the one on the right is feeling. I like to think terror, but it’s probably more like WTF. WTF is an emotion, right? I went upstairs to my open window afterwards and listened to them for several minutes while they giggled about me. I was surprised to hear one of them repeat what I said to them verbatim. I wonder if they visited any of my other neighbors afterwards and asked them about “the weird guy.”

If you’re wondering why I shouted what I did, you should listen to this song, especially around the 30 second mark. Well, I guess that doesn’t explain why really, but at least you know what the reference is from.


  • awesome. the only way that would have been even cooler if you recorded their discussion after you freaked them out like that.

  • You should have been our president. Obama can never hope to do ANYTHING as cool. You are so cool, that even if you don’t get “Knight Rider” shaved into your head, it will appear there anyway.

    You rock. B)

  • Wow, I hear about the weirdest things on your blog. I have never heard of the flash mob things before. It’s like an underground cult of Brad.

    Darn those Mormons! But they are so good looking ;)

  • “That sure is alot of mail you’ve got there”… I wonder if I ever said anything so mindbogglingly obvious back in the day. I hope not, but I really can’t remeber. I probably did.

    We once had an important church guy come and tells us (among other things) that we ought to smile more. For months afterwards half the missionaries went around with these huge maniac out for blood smiles. I can safely say I never did that. What was really fun was the same guy, in his official press-release photo was wearing sort of a grunty looking grimace.

  • Awesome post as usual but… Come on Brad you should have gotten really creative with your opening-the-door-to-missionaries outfit.

    Here the top three from my LDS mission…

    The guy wearing nothing but bubbles.

    The 400 lb lady wearing nothing but a bra & panties. (Why even open the door?)

    The guy wearing a newspaper.

    Oh the memories!!

    I’d never heard of a flash mob before but I think I’ll start one! lol.

  • I’m sorry Dana, it’s the best I could do on such short notice. I don’t think they even noticed what I was wearing since I was so quick about screaming at them.

    HL5, you should tell me the billions of crazy things that happened to you while knocking on doors. Would my weirdness have brightened your day?

  • definately!

    I met tons of crazy people… I have tons of stories… Days worth.

  • the unusually hairy and tanned guy with an overbite wearing just boxers, gripping the doorframe above his head with one hand, while absentminedly scratching his armpit with the other, explaining to us in a sleepy voice that he believed that he was descended from a monkey.

  • Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha HAHAHAHAHA!!!

    Where do you get so many weirdos to do a flash mob? I want to do that!

    I’m afraid I can’t answer the door in my undies when those pestilential Mormons come here. They all know me. But, I’m glad that you can! Funny Stuff!

  • It reminds me of this piece of hilarity:

  • That’s OK Brad it was really short notice. However if you ever take the initiative to order a Book of Mormon or video then be sure to prepare and then record it. I’ve got to say that I lived for those moments on my mission. lol. I’ll never forget the guy that invited us in and then proceeded to tell us all about his religion “gay neo-nazis for christ” he even went to the trouble to make posters.

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