I know you’re just doing your job
04/07/2009

I work in the Pearl District, and there is this crappy thing that happens here. It’s this: canvassers hang out on the corner and harass you as you walk by. They are always or almost always working for a righteous cause. That’s not the problem. The problem is how they try to get you to talk to them. Sometimes they’ll say "can you spare a second to save the rainforests?" Sometimes the’ll spot you coming across the street and try to reel you in with a compliment, something like "nice shirt, bro!" And if you say thanks, they ask if you care about children. Or sometimes it’s a pretty girl and she says "hi!, do you want to talk to me for a little bit?" I don’t think it’s sounds as invasive and manipulative as it feels. The thing is that they really force you to a place where you either have to stop and hear their spiel or be rude to them. And it happens all the time. It can happen a couple times just on the way to coffee. And before very much of it it makes you want to avoid anyone who is making eye contact or smiling. The other day I heard some girl talking to her friend about how someone had given her a stern "no thank you" because she was dancing on the sidewalk. It makes people think that if someone is dancing it is because they have some agenda!

Anyways, my basic feeling about this is that it is a misuse of friendliness. So what I did was write some words and had Tony put them on a card that you can hand to these people. here it is:

i know you're just doing your job

here’s how you use them:

when I was halfway across the street this guy said “I like this!” and when I was all the way across he yelled “I’m really a good person!”

I believe him.

 

Comments

  1. Turning down canvassers is hard for me, too. Some pretty girls from the ACLU asked me if I wanted to support gay marriage today, and I spent five very stressful minutes reading the fact sheets on their clipboard and wishing I had some of your cards with me.

    I just got my BFA in communication design this spring and I don’t feel like I can handle manipulating people for a living. I spend a lot of mental energy ignoring ads and I don’t want to sap thousands of other people that way.

    How do you reconcile your discomfort about manipulation with your professional work as an advertiser?

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