The Box

I watched a film today called ‘The Box’.

It wasn’t a great movie, in fact it was probably below average – but it did make me think.

Basically, a financially troubled couple wake up one morning to find a mysterious box on their doorstep. Inside the box they find nothing but a button. A mysterious old man turns up and tells them that they have twenty-four hours to make a decision.

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If they press the button before the twenty-four hours is up he’ll give them one million dollars (tax-free), but if they don’t press it they won’t get the money.

Sounds like an easy choice doesn’t it? 

Who doesn’t want a million?

Of course, as with any too-good-to-be-true deal, there’s a catch. By pushing the button to receive the million dollars, one person somewhere in the world will die as a result.

So it’s a classic conundrum and a classic question. Do you do it? Do you press that button? And, if you do press it, could you live with the guilt? Whether it be your neighbour dying, or someone in a faraway city that you’ve never even heard of.

After I finished the film, I happened to look at my Instagram feed and I was instantly swept away in a stream of ‘motivational’ posts. Quotes, gym snaps, holiday photos and ‘tough day at the office’ pics.

Many of us are chasing success and we’ll go at great lengths to post about it on social media, but how many of us are actually doing everything that we can to guarantee that we get it?

Sure pressing a button and condemning someone to death is a pretty extreme way to get what you want, and thankfully it’s not what any of us need to do – but, in your own way, are you doing everything you can to get to where you want to be?

 

Why do you need such a big fridge/freezer?

Several years ago, between the second and third years of university, I clinched a summer job as a repair guy for several student accommodation blocks.

Now, truth be told, I have all the DIY prowess of a five year old – so, quite how I got the gig is anyone’s guess.

The days consisted of painting walls, manoeuvring sofas, checking inventory sheets and talking to each other in silly voices over the walkie talkies that we carried.

Also on the site were a large group of cleaners. We were just a bunch of students looking to make some summer money whereas they were very serious and at a completely different stage in life.

Both sides kept themselves to themselves, asides from the occasional lunch time conversation.

It was during one of these lunches that I learnt an important truth. Something which we can apply to marketing, advertising, writing and life in general.

Don’t over-complicate things. Sometimes things are as simple as they seem.


As I sat there, munching on my £4 convenience store sandwiches, one of the cleaners was talking about buying a new fridge/freezer in his characteristically gruff way.

He was going to buy the biggest one he could see.

He didn’t care if he had to move his house around to fit it in.

He wanted the biggest one money could buy.

I thought about it. All sorts of questions went round in my head. Did he have an extra large family? Did he have loads of pets he wanted to keep feed for? Did he bulk buy food from one of those stores that only sell things in industrial sized packages? Did everything in his house have to be a certain size?

And so, with a mouthful of slightly stale bread, I asked him:

“Why do you need one so big?”

There was a moment of silence as he, and the rest of the cleaners, looked at me incredulously.

Another moment passed. A few of them started to laugh.

Then came his reply:

“So I can get more fucking food in it”.

And that was that. Simple.

A lesson learnt. Sometimes things are as simple as they seem on face value.

Why do our minds naturally look to over-complicate them?

If you’re selling a big fridge. Go for the natural USP. The customer can store more food in it! Simple.

I do miss that summer, although it did show me that my future wasn’t in being a maintenance man.