it sometimes happes to me to meet some bright person who is interested in learning a programming language; what usually happens, after a brief talk, is that I lend them my Camel book and ask them to read the tutorial in the first 30 pages or so.
Non programming peopole usually cannot get a hold of the thing, and I believe that this happens because they don't understand "How can this thing help me?", so they get bored after a while not seeing a clear payoff for their fatigues. I do understand how Perl can help me - I am used to write all sort of one-liners to solve my everyday computing chores, but this happens because I know the language and therefore it's very convenient for me to do so.
I wonder if - in your experience - there is any problem that the average Windows-Office user faces every day and gets tired of that can be easily solved by a beginner in Perl, so it can light people up and be a reason to start studying Perl and programming in general?
And have you even introduced a not necessarily geek friend to programming, and what is your experience in this case?