Thursday, June 22, 2006

Open Letter to Street Lobbyists

Dear Friendly Street Lobbyist,

No, I'm sorry, I don't have a moment to talk about Greenpeace. What I would like to talk about is you. Look, I know that this is your job, OK. I know that, for whatever reason, you feel that you have love to give, and smiles to share, and kittens to save. I'm not saying I don't care about Greenpeace. I like Greenpeace. I don't like kittens, but let's not even go there. Deep down, I'm glad you're out there, waving at me, trying to stop my 60mph stride, sticking out your clipboard. It's just on the surface that I hate you. See, here are my two problems: One, you're in New York City; and two, you're talking to me.

Here's the deal with problem number one: On any given New York street at any given time, there are only two states that a person can be in:

1. They are too busy/stressed out/crazy to stop (even if they are standing still -- it's possible they've just had a cerebral hemorrage).

2. They are blissfully free of work/stress/psychosis/major illness and are reveling in the fact that they have nothing to worry about and no one to bother them. Except, of course, YOU.

Why don't you go to Minnesota or somewhere where people, I don't know, actually like talking to strangers? You're in New York, buddy. We walk past homeless people. We let pregnant people stand on the subway. Even those of us who are nice, decent human beings have low tolerance for strangers. Wegive to charities, but we like to do it through things we actually trust, like credit cards and the Internet.

Here's problem number two: I personally hate you. I'm sorry to those of you who are advocating for gay rights and environmental action -- I actually think what you're doing is good (not that I'd stop to chat), but your causes are blighted by the assholes who ask me where I get my hair cut. A girl actually once said "Hi!" to me, like she knew me. Not, "Hi, can I ask you a question?", not "Hi! Save the Whales?" Nope, just an enthusiastic "Hi!". I stopped, wondering if I knew her from high school. That's when she raised her clipboard.

Here's a tip: I have a fake cell phone call at the ready a half a block away. I am impervious to all charm, all pleading, all reason. If you faked a heart attack I would just dodge. I will only stop to talk to you if I have been hit by a car and you are resuscitating me. Even then, I won't sign a thing. So, friendly street lobbyists, do yourselves a favor, save yourselves from another heartless asshole. When you see this face ....

[my stupid internet won't let me post a photo here, so just imagine me here, looking menacing yet pretty]
Turn away.


  1. HAHAHA! I feel that way about the girl scouts trying to sell me cookies. I hate that they make me feel guilty just because I don't want to buy their brand of diabetes and obesity.

  2. Dr. Heckle well said!
    And let me just raise my hands and shout "testify" to the post.
    I'm Canadian so even if I was late to an appointment chances are i would stop and listen to the lobbyists until my ears bled and i spontaneously combust.
    Damn polite-ness such a weakness. I need ppl like u to head butt these folks so they're starry eyed and i can run by fast.
    Dude i even apologize to homeless crazies when i dont have change... or smokes...true story..

  3. Hmm.... well this was my job during summers back when I was in university. I didn't work at Greenpeace itself, but I did work for other environmental groups and charities. I would probably have worked for GP, but whoever was hiring in my city only liked red headed girls who were very skinny and no more than 5ft tall. It was pretty disturbing how many they found who fit this description... maybe they were manufacturing them or something.
    Anyway, I can totally understand how people don't like being bothered on the street (even I don't like being bothered, you know)... however, financially it really works. While I was always pretty incredulous that people would just hand over their credit cards to a stranger on the street and sign up to give X amount every month, there are lots of people who do it. In fact, it's one of the most effective ways for charities to raise money. So I stand behind it from that perspective.
    And then, even if I spent my days harassing people at least I felt like it was for a good cause. My roommate worked at a bank calling people who had massive overdue loans and asking them to repay their debts even though there was no way they could. Even though people were seriously rude to me all day long, I still was in a way better mood than she was at the end of the day.
    I'd say that canvassers aren't usually naive kitten-lovers running around pleading with tears in their eyes for cash, but students who need to make rent, and don't yet have the credentials to do something more sophisticated (and respected) to support their causes (and themselves). And it does work too...

    Anyway, I'm sorry to be the big, pain-in-the-ass wet blanket here... I really enjoy your blog and I don't mean to take things too seriously, but you know, it's not a fun arrangement for the person asking you for donations either. Why not pick on those people who spray perfume on you in shops? Those people have nothing to redeem them.

  4. And the brain laugh continues... :)

  5. From someone from MN, I wouldn't want to talk to them either; I even pass by the old clipboard ladies in the mall...yes, I feel guilty, but no I don't have time to fill out some survey I could give a rats ass about anyway. I only feel guilty that you have to do that insignificant job, when we all know that 87% of statistics are made up on the spot anyway...

  6. Here in this relatively small city, we still don't talk to them. Especially the one guy downtown who holds a gigantic cross and screams at everyone within a mile radius. "THE END IS NEAR! REPENT!" sometimes I just want to get up in his face, point and scream "Stranger Danger!" and then whip out some pepper spray, or a tazer. HE's creeepy... Although theres an awesome guy on that same corner who plays the xylophone. He's cool.


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