Freshmen, Advising

By Emily Gold / May / June 1999
November 14th, 2007

Ever wonder what to do with your life? Not sure what movie to see? Having trouble with that special someone?

For a mere twenty-five cents, Seth Pipkin '02 and Darius Pierce '02, self-styled "advice guys," will offer words of wisdom to anyone who stops by their makeshift booth outside the Brown Bookstore. The advice guys hold no degrees (they haven't even picked concentrations yet), and their combined life experience is less than forty years. Even so, customers of all ages keep lining up, enticed by the pair's vocal street ads: "Let mere pocket change bring you lifelong change" or "Why wait for enlightenment when you can get it here for a quarter." They even serve drive-through clients, who toss quarters from car windows, get some quick advice, then speed away.

The pair has doled out advice to a would-be third- world dictator, to a group of hungry visitors looking for a good dinner, and to several spiritual types seeking the true meaning of life. (Pipkin's reply: "You have to create your own.") Sometimes the advice guys are less than serious, as when they advised the guy who did not feel like going to a concert with his friend, even though the friend swore that only a family death could keep the two of them away: go to the concert, Pierce said, or kill a member of the friend's family. And to the high-school girl paying off Christmas-shopping debts, Pierce advised, "Consider changing religions, because Christmas isn't working for you. And don't give people quarters on the street."

But being an advice guy isn't all fun and word games. To a pregnant woman not sure whether to keep her baby, Pipkin and Pierce counseled to talk it out and think it through. When a college woman spoke of the self-absorbed boyfriend who broke her prized bass guitar and never seemed to take her seriously, Pipkin suggested she nix their plans to live together. "Very often," Pierce says, "it's not like we suddenly provide them with some epiphany. Sometimes it's just a matter of sorting things out."

Pipkin and Pierce took their advice-giving talents to the street after a few floormates sought out the pair's guidance and seemed pleased with the results. The first booth was so successful that they started doling out advice regularly - they can be seen sitting on Thayer Street most Fridays during the school year from 4 to 6 p.m., earning a whopping $5 to $7 in an average afternoon.

"But I heard the best advice in the world is free," a skeptical passerby remarked one afternoon. To which Pipkin replied, "Rumors. Just rumors."

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Related Issue
May / June 1999