Yesterday, I was at Twiggs in University Heights to unwind after a day of teaching, around 6’ish pm, when I saw some people with clipboards hanging around outside by the entrance. I didn’t know what they were up, nor did I find ever find out. I just didn’t care to find out. They may have even been working for some cause I’m for, but the strategic ambush posture didn’t go very well with me.
As I did my Internetting and sipped my coffee, I thought of my exit strategy. I imagined being rude, I contemplated simply running past them, and I thought of running towards the street corner and crossing the street. I just did not want to engage in conversation with them at all, as they would have kept talking so I would buy whatever they wanted to sell, whether it was making a contribution to their cause or consider their product. It reminded me of when I was recently in Washington DC walking around in Chinatown, only to be accosted by someone from Greenpeace. I didn’t mind the initial conversation, but I did not want to get roped into making a donation right there on the spot. I simply made an excuse that I had to meet some friends to get away from her, but the woman wasn’t too happy that I got out of her grip.
I settled on wearing my headphones and listening to my iPod. However, they weren’t deterred as two of them tried to rush me when I was a few feet out the door. I then put my hand up in the classic “talk to the hand” gesture and moved on. I called Twiggs afterwards to voice a complaint about the clipboard people.
A part of me felt rude for quickly dismissing them like that. However, I resent that they placed themselves in a position where they had a captive audience.
The outdoor solicitor problem got so bad at the Trader Joe‘s in Hillcrest/Uptown area that they put up a sign telling customers that they were not obligated to talk to these street hawkers. It’s pretty bad when we need institutional blessings to say “No.”