The techniques of selling things on the subway are many and ever expanding. Here's a new one on me that's quite common here: as you ride, reading the paper or whatever, people put things in your lap. Yes, it's weird. I can't say I didn't jump the first time. You aren't meant to do anything with the things, just let them sit there while the salesperson goes around the while car depositing items in laps. (It's possible to hold up your hand and decline the lap-gift, bit few people do.) Then the depositor/salesperson goes back around the car, picking the items back up. Occasionally someone likes the item and a sale is made. Interesting. I've come to kind of appreciate the ritual. It's like being given an opportunity to test drive the item. "Look how that little sewing kit looks on my lap. Niice. If it owned that sewing kit, I could take it out and put it on my lap just like that whenever I wanted. Oh yeah. Gotta have it."
And a sale is made.