Sunday, April 24, 2011

Book excerpts: The Unbitten Onion, Powerhorns Study

Winding down a seven-year study focused on enhancing and promoting effective communications between individuals, the American Communication Association released preliminary results Friday, citing the most effective supplement to meaningful communications is the electronic power-horn, the latest form of the dated megaphone.

Spokesperson and study participant of the ACA, Mehki Vivu, claimed that this type of tool should and will be used more often. "Take a standard two-person conversation; you get lots of nods and head-shakes, but the people aren't really hearing one another. They're just waiting their own turn to speak." Picking up a 10-watt power-horn with built-in siren and detachable mic, she demonstrated. "Can you hear me now? God##amn right you can."

The study focused on two-person communication aids in three individual settings: home, work, and social. School was not chosen as a setting due to various laws regarding state-run schools and noise/interference policies.

To do the home environment, the ACA chose hundreds of families across the U.S. to participate in the study. One participant, Doug Baker of Nags Head, NC, reported dramatic changes in the way he and his wife communicated with one another. "First thing in the morning, I'd grab the horn and get right up next to her in bed. Then I'd say, 'Honey, do you want eggs or pancakes?' Up she'd come, swingin' and spittin'." Before that, claimed Baker, she would just mumble and continue sleeping.

In the work environment, results were mixed, but with overwhelming favor toward the power-horn.

Vivu personally tried the power-horn tactic at several retail outlets, including McDonald's. "Normally, before this [power-horn study] I would order a double-cheeseburger without pickle, and invariably, it would either have pickle, or I would get like Chicken McNuggets instead of what I ordered. So in three of the McDonald's that I went into, I said the very same thing; 'I want a double-cheeseburger withOUT pickles,' right into my 10-watt power-horn. Not once did my order come back incorrect."

Although Vivu's McDonald's orders were correct each time, she did have other problems. On her second visit to the golden arches, a customer in front of her passed out after her announcement. He had been wearing a particularly sensitive hearing aid, according to witnesses. On her third visit, a frightened worker launched herself out of the drive-thru window into a customer's vehicle, later claiming that she thought it was a robbery. "Small stuff," claimed Vivu. "Those things happen everyday--the difference now is that we can get the correct order, every time. It's worth a little confusion, isn't it?"

In a social setting, the power-horn was rated top-notch for getting a message across. Study participant Andrew Behrmer of Ft. Lauderdale, FL, took his power-horn to the beach with his wife and children. "My target," said Behrmer, "was the people who somehow manage to get sand on you. Happens every time. You have your little spot, away from everybody, but they throw a frisbee or whatever and next thing you know, your ham sandwich has crunch nuggets."

The first person Behrmer used his power-horn on was a three year-old boy who was chasing his beach ball too close to Behrmer's blanket. "Yo! Stop there. I'll get your ball, kid," Behrmer said through his more powerful 70-watt power-horn (necessary, according to him, because of the breeze on the beach). "The boy never stopped moving; he was coming at us quick, and when I hollered into the horn, he stayed quick, just in the opposite direction. His parents came to inquire but I held them at a distance with, 'Stand back, or I will increase the volume.'"

In another social setting, Behrmer targeted people who's car stereos were too loud. "At one stop light, this guy had some kind of techno-rap song playing so loud that my rear-view mirror was rattling. I came up with the power-horn and cranked her full power--said, 'Turn that sh$$ off before I throw my wife at you.' Zip. Silence. That felt good--I did it for the rest of the day at different traffic lights."

As the news was released about power-horns, manufacturers are scurrying to up production to meet the expected demand. Vivu is optimistic about the change, claiming that if people could only communicate more accurately with one another, half of the problems in our daily lives would disappear. "And don't forget the pure entertainment value of the power-horn," said Vivu. "Ever walked up behind somebody in a bathroom and barked out a Howdy-Doody with one of these? It's priceless."

--The Unbitten Onion, Issue #31, Study Reveals Boost in Communications Through Power-horns

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