The people at the Washington Post Magazine decided to conduct an experiment: They had one of the world’s leading violinists set up as a street performer at the entrance to a Washington, D.C., Metro station, and start playing his violin. Would people notice? Would he be showered with money? Would there be a riot?
In the three-quarters of an hour that Joshua Bell played, seven people stopped what they were doing to hang around and take in the performance, at least for a minute. Twenty-seven gave money, most of them on the run — for a total of $32 and change. That leaves the 1,070 people who hurried by, oblivious, many only three feet away, few even turning to look.
The article, by Post staff writer Gene Weingarten, is awesome. Highly recommended: Pearls Before Breakfast.