Street Peddler Avoidance Strategies

It’s the time of year when the other denizens of the tundra and I are able to leave our heated homes to wander amongst the lichen and general renewal of plant life.  All in all, it’s pretty great.  The main drawback is everyone is out, making it hard to walkabout without being accosted by people wanting something from me – generally my vote, my signature (on a petition or a contract), or my money. 

This is a real conundrum for me, and I have to balance my disinterest and wariness of strangers (my pocket has totally been picked and it was NOT fun) with my inherent politeness.  That’s a difficult group to reconcile!  Fortunately, I am both tricky and amazing.  To aid me, I developed a couple of tricks to deal with the most common situations.

Vote: I don’t vote where I live.  Boom.  Done.  Easy.  Honesty eliminates me.

Signature: Ugh.  There are causes that I support and contracts to which I agree.  However, neither of these has ever happened on a street corner.  Ew.  If I’m during the workday, I give a quick, “Sorry, on the clock.”  If I’m not, well, I lie.  I pretend to not speak English.  I took a Slavic language in college, which turns out to be $150K well spent as it permits me to copout gracefully.  A simple, “Sorry I don’t speak English” in my foreign language and fantastic accent. 

Money: I don’t donate on streets and am fine saying so.  For the kids (and “kids”) selling candy, I wish them luck and say I have a food allergy.  I *do* have a food allergy; I neglect to specify that it probably isn’t to whatever they are selling – although I suspect scam-supporting and cyanide-laced Snickers aren’t good for my health either.

The other day I was in a total rush.  Loaded down with stuff, fighting a massive headache, as sweaty as a fat man in a steam room, and in an obvious scamper.  It was clearly the perfect time for me to change my cell phone plan and thus the ideal time for the dude from Cricket mobile to stop me for a special opportunity.  Exactly what I was looking for, except for the not-at-all-what-I-was-looking for detail.  I decided to employ my typical response to signature seekers.  Too bad I was in such a tizzy that I totally screwed up.  I got the “I don’t speak English” part out, but I unfortunately got it out in my perfect, regionally-accented English.  It was not the most believable ploy and Mr. Cricket did not fall for it AT ALL.  He told me he just wanted a moment of my time for a super special offer just for me.  I’m pretty special, but I believed him about as much as he believed me.  Ergo, again in English, I told him, “No really.  I really don’t speak English.” 

Fortunately for me, the traffic signal I’d been waiting on chose that moment to finally turn green and I crossed the street, away from my mortification.  As I walked away, I pondered why he didn’t fall for my trick and how he knew I understood English.  It took me a solid block and a half to realize that I’d forgotten to apply the trick part where my “I don’t speak English” is either not in English or with my foreign accent.  Whoops.  Hopefully it will stay warm long enough for me to practice my avoidance skills, because I clearly need some practice.


2 Responses to “Street Peddler Avoidance Strategies”

  1. 1 kb
    June 7, 2010 at 9:47 am

    avoid eye contact and keep walking. it works particularly well when wearing sunglasses.

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