The best defense is a good offense…

May 30, 2009 § 3 Comments

My not-so-secret strategy to befriend every canvasser in Portland is starting to work. Yesterday, on my walk home, I encountered two different Children’s International workers with positively delightful results.

The first was V, who I know because he was my surprise-and-delight target a few months back. V is my favorite to run into as he is always all about the free hugs. We chatted for a few minutes about the heat and people being mean to him. I was then able to get my free hug (and one of those fist-pound thingys) and head on my way.

The second was a girl I’ve spoken with a few times, but whose name I can never remember. She looked at me and said “Yeah, you already have a sponsored child, huh?” I nodded. She smiled. “You would.”

Really? I’m adding that to my list of favorite things people I don’t really know at all have said to me. “You would.” I love it.

I’m a long way, obviously, from getting to the point where I can walk anywhere in this city with similar results, but yesterday made me feel like I was on my way. I’m pretty amped about my little mission. As someone who walks basically everywhere, and then takes walks for fun, the idea of completely eliminating all awkward “No, I don’t really have enough money” (which is pretty true) encounters is super appealing. I’ll keep you posted.

FYI, if you’d like to participate in the movement, here’s the not-so-genius strategy: Be aggressive… be, be aggressive and approach a canvasser first. Smile as big as you can, shake their hand, ask how they’re doing… they’re used to being avoided, and this throws them off their game. Ask what they are supporting, but come right out with “I honestly won’t be signing up for anything today. I do, however, support what you’re doing and think it must suck to be out here.” The first time, you will be stuck talking for about 5 minutes while they try to make the sale. Say no, but tell them your name. After awhile, you’ll start to only run into canvassers you know, and if you repeat the game plan enough times (I seem to average two times before they remember me), they start to recognize you, wave to you, and not pitch to you! If you ever want to skip immediately to the no-pitch buddies step and have a few bucks, buy them coffee. Works like a charm, and costs a heck of a lot less than $25 a month. Most seem to position themselves strategically near coffeehouses anyhow. ๐Ÿ™‚ If you do ever want to sponsor a kid or something, do it. They seem to have a solid network, and will spread the word and completely lay off you if you do. (Disclaimer: this does not work with all canvassers, as canvassers are people and all have different needs and reactions. I’m not responsible if you try it and get stuck buying a polar bear. Be strong. Persevere.)

I know most of you think I’m insane now, or still, but I spend a lot of time thinking about this stuff. I walk past the same 10 canvassers almost everywhere I go. People bring it up in conversations with me weirdly often. It’s a daily issue, kids. So just roll with it. This is working better than anything else I’ve tried so far.

If you see V, give him a hug. He likes that.


§ 3 Responses to The best defense is a good offense…

  • thatoneguy says:

    >I have no desire whatsoever to join you, but am intrigued by this plan. Since I don’t think you’re insane (yet), what’s the motivation?

  • karyn says:

    >Well, I suppose a peaceful walk to work is the primary objective, but I was originally motivated by the feeling of guilt I got every time I hurried past someone who was trying to get my attention for (usually) the sake of a good cause. I have empathy issues, and I couldn’t get over how much it would suck to be ignored or written off all day, especially if you were genuinely interested in the cause you were supporting. The longer I lived here, the more conversations I had with people who felt the same way, or just hated the whole exchange… for such a small thing, people seem to bring it up a lot, and I wound up thinking about it all the time. A couple months ago, I came across an old blog where Mike P asked, “How would Jesus deal with canvassers every day?” (mike and those questions ๐Ÿ™‚ )… which I read at about the same time I’d had the 417th conversation about it with a friend on a walk. That got me thinking, and though I don’t know how Jesus would do it (He’d probably do something amazing and convert them instantly to his cause instead… a “throw down your polar bears and follow me” sort of thing), I feel like I’m closer now than I was before… this way, I don’t have to ignore them or lie about not having money, they feel appreciated, and I don’t get a sales pitch. We’ll see how it goes. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Liesl says:

    I love that we share “empathy issues”. Lovely post. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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