Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Street Walker

Last month I teased you that I was doing something I hated for a piece of writing.

Well, here's what I hated... (I hated it enough to post about it twice, actually.)

And here's the writing.

I totally had a change of heart, like the Grinch. Except I ended up giving someone my credit card, and I didn't get to carve the roast beast.

If you're in NYC, pick up a copy of The Observer to see it in print!


  1. I have a friend who's an engineer. Recently he's been working on a project at an uptown Hospital. He was loathed to tell me the details until he finished.
    It was an animal testing lab.

    I think you're ok in terms of conflicts of interest, comparatively speaking.

  2. Anonymous9:30 AM

    A Greenpeace canvasser once said to me, "You look like you care about the environment!" To which I responded, "Not today."

    Love your writing; it's hilarious. I find that even if I wanted to, I probably couldn't stop reading.

    Melanie @Unravelled Threads
    Don't forget to enter my custom elastic waistband skirt giveaway!

  3. I feel you. I avoid people who smile at me on the street too.Only to counter the Ugly New Yorker image, I go out of my way to give street directions to confused looking foreigners or people from Jersey. I will even ask people staring at a map if they need help. Only thing is, once I've stepped up to the plate as a New York know it all, I give street directions even if I don't know where the hell Morton Street is from Union Square. I mean, I'm being nice. Do I have to be right too?

  4. Great article. How brave of you to actually do this too! :)

    Liked your line about "Can I wear sunglasses" the best.

  5. That was awesome. I was a telemarketer in high school and college (bland Midwestern voice) and renewed memberships for the NRA. Hated it so much I'd cry before going to work, but I made so much money I couldn't quit. Apparently former NRA members are suckers for crying 16-year-old girls.


  6. I've never been stopped by Greenpeace, but the Salvation Army on the other hand...

    Damn them and their good causes! I just hate being stopped on the street at all... I don't even like running into people I know.

  7. I once heard a guy stun a Greenpeacer into silece saying that he had to go home to feed his polar bear.
    Great article. Cracked me up and made me almost choke on my coffee. Is it just me or does the guy in the pic look like he's pulling for his gun?

  8. honestly, you are SUCH a phenomenal person. i know. i know. i sound like a crazy obsessive stalker. i'm not. =) i DO, however, enjoy your pieces SO much!!!! that was an absolutely AWESOME article to read!!!! i do the SAME EXACT THING!!! sometimes, i actually DO call jason before walking out of target, just so that i have to act like i'm in a hurry and REALLY into the phone call. he knows the routine. those people make me not want to go to that Target, because they are ALWAYS standing outside.... you did a truly amazing thing. this is like aggressive, cold-calling sales tactics.... you've got to have a STRONG backbone to stand out there and face rejection nearly all day. it's their job. it's what they've learned to do, and some of them have perfected the art. now if they only needed someone to stand out there and sell shoes and shoe cleaners.... i'd TOTALLY be the girl. ;)

    Thanks for this....

  9. I disagree with Amanda. When strangers smile at me on the street, I question their sanity.

    The problem with stopping to talk to street canvassers is that once they ensnare you, they don't let you go. I now know what it's like to be an insect trying to escape a venus flytrap.

  10. awesome blog! and you just helped raise awareness for two campaigns! I work in nonprofit and alot of times our volunteers return defeated if they havent gotten pledges or sold the pins. But i just tell them, commercial's cost at least a quartermillion a spot, and alot of folks pvr and fastforward through them, they are saving us at least a quarter million by simply being present and displaying their passion for the cause.
    That gets in ppls heads too, and can develop into more and more.
    Like a pay it forward sort of thing.
    A little bit goes a long way.

    I loved the article btw great writing :)

  11. Working in center City Philadelphia every day I am assaulted with great regularity by these bleeding pony-tails. I usually just say "No time" but sometmes I issue a sarcastic reply such as" Working to feed my own kids leave me alone" to the Feed The Children crew or...."Sierra Club kicks Greenpeace's ass and I only support winners" to the earth shoe patrol. I like your article very much...particularly the modest goal of not pouking or sayinmg fuck...laughed out loud at that.
    Love your Blog !

  12. Anonymous3:35 PM

    We don't have many street lobbyists in San Diego, but my recent encounter with one left me feeling the hate. Imagine walking out of Target, blissfully minding your own business, when a woman wearing a Greenpeace t-shirt jumps out in front of you and yells, "HELLO WHALE LOVER!" I screamed a little & ran away. Good on you for giving it a shot... I don't think I could have done it.

  13. When I live in Las Vegas, I had to go Thur the airport many times. One of the "HAIRY CHRISTIANS" came at me in a sheet and looked like a member of the Manson family. Too bad for him. I'm 6'7" 275lbs and not in the mood to give, sooo I ran over him when he stoped right in front of me. He yelled something about world peace and food for the poor. Made my day!!!!!!!

  14. So did it feel like a crazy, one-on-one used car style sales? It sounds like it might be.

  15. Love this blog, found it a few days ago and have been checking it madly ever since :)

  16. Anonymous8:50 PM

    Nice article!

    I openly despise canvassers, because in L.A. they hit you up on your way out of the grocery store! Yeah, ask me for money for starving children after I just paid $3.50 for one can of artichoke hearts. Not even the whole ones...quartered. I'm lucky not to starve to death myself. Bad timing, people!

  17. I got cornered while vacationing in Philadelphia, and the guy was so nice and made some great points that I just couldn't be rude. So I listened while he talked and talked - when he made the cash pitch, It broke my heart to tell him that I was from Canada and wasn't even eligible.

    You are a brave woman to put yourself through that torture!

  18. I live in Colorado Springs, and for the most part, I don't believe that we have canvassers here. Well, other than those idiots who come to my door even though I have a no soliciting sign. "But I'm not selling anything." "Look up solicit in the dictionary, asshole." I'm that girl who looks at the girl scouts and tells them I don't want their cookies. However, we do have malls here. And in those malls, we have those obnoxious idiots who are selling Dead Sea beauty crap, and they always want to rub something on you. Once, when i was HUGELY pregnant and walking the mall (hey, it was summer, and the mall has a/c!), this guy told me I looked like I could use some help with my skin. Really asshole? I'M GROWING A BABY HERE. No control over the hormones, mmkay? He's lucky I didn't rip his head off. But, one look at my expression and he suddenly turned to attack some other woman on the other side of the mall. And no, I'm not sorry that I caused someone else to become the focus of his poor sales tactics.

    That's just the nice girl I am.

  19. I love the "Hairy Christian" comment. My sister once handed them $20 in San Francisco and let him know she wanted changed.....and he ran with the $20and she chased him but lost the race. I used to waitress in a small town 3-4 lives ago and I got to meet more assholes who got their sense of self-importance by acting the Queen or King of England with their demands for royal treatment over a damn hamburger. You were brave to hit the streets...

  20. Love reading your posts!
    Just wanted to let you know I linked to one of your Go Fug Myself posts on my own blog today... Thanks for the laughs!

  21. Color me impressed. I have a hard time talking to strangers on the street. I find I'm often on the side of Colleen, awkwardly questioning people who smile foolishly at me while on the street. (I should move to France. It's a social norm not to smile at strangers there.) Luckily I've never really had to do anything like that. So, A+ for effort. Haha

  22. Color me impressed. I have a hard time talking to strangers on the street. I find I'm often on the side of Colleen, awkwardly questioning people who smile foolishly at me while on the street. (I should move to France. It's a social norm not to smile at strangers there.) Luckily I've never really had to do anything like that. So, A+ for effort. Haha

  23. Anonymous9:15 AM

    Not only could I never do what you just did, I am completely incapable, averse to, allergic to, and basically repelled by anything that involves asking anyone else to buy, sign, give or otherwise be persuaded to do anything they have not chosen for themselves. I am not a fan of canvassers, but if I believe in their cause (especially if it is a voting issue that involves merely a signature) I am willing to stop. But being on the other side? Impossible. I refuse to recruit students to the university where I teach; I refuse to make fundraising calls to alumni; I refuse even to attend free fundraising events that could be perceived as encouraging donations. Clearly this is a deeply rooted middle-class phobia about money or privacy or social contact or something. The one exception I once made was canvassing for Obama, and even then my experience was horrifying. They sent me and my 13 year old son to the one lone neighborhood in a completely liberal lefty city that was filled with former Democrats turned GOP supporters. I got lots of insults and slammed doors. Never again. So I applaud your bravery, appreciate your humor (as always), and am convinced by your awe of those who are actually good at this difficult job.

  24. Anonymous4:41 PM

    You are hilarious and smart and funny and witty and grounded and awesome and I love your blog and your Project Runway recaps.


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