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    Bit to Do

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    I am afraid of the “Do Something” machine. It’s a warm day in early October, and I’m sitting at a table at Gravely Brewing with Jenna Morales of Fieldtrip, a local marketing agency that’s taken on an attention-catching project. A big black vending machine that Fieldtrip rented and stocked has been popping up around town. Today it’s at Gravely, fresh off a truncated run at the canceled Bourbon and Beyond Festival, and destined for a trip to U of L. It looks like any other vending machine, only there’s a little screen on the right, and the price is nothing. I watch as a young woman presses the screen and a card drops down into the receptacle. It bears a little crystal ball design, with a round pin tacked to it that reads “Do something.” A dare is printed on the back. Earlier, I peeked at a card someone had left on top of the machine. It said something like, “Act like a monkey for 30 seconds straight.” Others include singing out loud and calling up folks you haven’t spoken to in forever. In a word: yikes.

    “Do a handstand!” the woman exclaims. She follows her male companion off to a nearby wall she can use for leverage, and attempts once, twice, three times, her legs falling down like wilting palm fronds. Finally, a waitress runs over to help hold her ankles, and the deed is done.

    The idea for the machine came from a Conan O’Brien antic and has been used in various campaigns, though it usually involves a transaction: Do a dare, get an item. But Fieldtrip’s newest iteration is about the experience itself. You don’t do the dare to get anything. You do the dare to do the dare.

    “You haven’t tried it yet,” Morales tells me, and I know my fate is sealed behind the vending machine’s glass face. I press the button, take my card, and try not to visibly bite my lip as I turn it over. I get off easy: “You know that project you’ve been meaning to start?” the card says. “Start it. Right now.” I take out my notebook and jot down a first sentence to an essay I’ve wanted to write for a long time. It’s not much. But I feel stupidly brave. Who knows? Maybe that button I pushed just got me started on my best work yet.

    This originally appeared in the November 2018 issue of Louisville Magazine under the headline "Prompt Propeller." To subscribe to Louisville Magazineclick here. To find us on newsstands, click here.

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    About Dylon Jones

    Dylon Jones is a senior editor at Louisville Magazine.

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