When I was a kid, my parents put a “No Soliciting” sign on our front door. I wasn’t a fan of the sign. I didn’t even know what soliciting was (and I’m pretty sure that if I had known, I wouldn’t have been a fan), but it seems kind of mean to say “no” to something right off the bat like that. Why the negativity, parents? It was a stern little square sign that didn’t even have a little stick figure briefcasey sales dude with a circle and slash. That level of artistic detail might have made the sign more agreeable to a youngster.
I never became more conservative as I got older (my dad always said this would happen), but I did eventually acquire my parents’ distaste for soliciting. I do not like soliciting. I do not like it here or there. I would not like it anywhere. I do not like it in a house. I do not like it with a mouse. I do not like it, Sam-I-Am.
At least in a house, though, you can avoid a solicitor by declining to answer the door. I’m a big fan of this type of confrontation avoidance. In person out in public, it’s not so easy.
One thing in life that gets on my last nerve is the 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver. The Sixteenth Street Mall in downtown Denver is teeming with aggressive people who want to talk to you only as a means of furthering their own purposes. Solicitors (broadly defined)! Usually this involves people asking you for money or, worse, Greenpeace employees who want to talk to you for hours and get you to do something to comply with their agenda.1 I do not like it when people speak to me only as a means of furthering their own purposes. In fact, it’s one of the minor annoyances of life that I hate the most.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not an asocial jerkwad or anything (most of the time). I don’t mind if you talk to me to be nice or social. I mean, I smiled for a good 5 minutes after a woman complimented my German grandma bunion shoes2 this morning. I like that! And I like pleasant social interactions, too, even if you’re not complimenting me! It’s cool if you talk to me about something at the gym or on the street or at the DMV or in line at the beer store or wherever, as long as you’re being nice and aren’t doing it just because you want something.
Today there was a very underweight older woman wearing a tiny shirt held together by a string (it wasn’t ripped — this was the design of the shirt). First she left me alone and tried to approach a dude wearing a tie. When he didn’t stop, it was my turn — something about a dude taking her money and a boarding house. I’m always very polite, “Sorry, I have no cash at all. I’m really sorry.”
And it’s true. I have no cash at all. I hardly ever have cash, partly for this very reason but also because what the hell am I going to do with cash anyway. Cash is so old school. And I am really sorry.
And you know, I was just going about my business here after working out, but thanks for reminding me of the fact that it’s not just cash I don’t have — it’s money in general. Then I start thinking that you probably have no money but I actually have negative money and I’ll be paying off these goddamn law school loans forever and my husband and I are gainfully employed with full-time jobs but still can’t manage to maintain our modest lifestyle in a tiny house in the ‘hood and maybe buy some new clothes once in a while and send our kid to daycare without going into the hole and and and waaaaaah woe is me.
Oh, man. That’s awful. I’m the eggshell head change-requestee — you take the person you’re hitting up for cash on the street as you find her. And apparently you don’t want to find me. Not that I’ll tell you any of this woe-is-me shit. I’ll just silently resent you like the fine, upstanding former Midwesterner of Northern European descent I am.
I mean, look. I don’t want to be a (total) asshole. I get it. There are people who are way worse off than I am and I feel bad about that. Despite the fact that I’m broke, I recognize that I occupy a relatively privileged place in our society. I wish there was something I could do about all this shit but realistically, there isn’t. I don’t have the means in any respect — money, time, connections, anything. So that sucks.
And I kind of wish I could wear a no-soliciting hat or something, so people would know that I really don’t like soliciting.
1. The Greenpeace people lurk outside the entrance to the empty shell of a mall where my gym (for the next month — I did quit) is located. They wear green vests and are super-aggressive about talking to you. Here’s the thing, though. Or maybe here are the things, plural, because my problems with the Greenpeace people are, well, many-fold. First of all, every time I’ve seen someone actually get sucked in to their web of being talked to, he or she is stuck there for, like, a long-ass time. At least 10 minutes or more. I don’t want to spend that much time being talked at by someone who is speaking to me only as a means of . . . yeah, you know. I’m in a hurry to get in and out of the gym and get home to my peeps, and my parking meter is going to expire, so no time, thanks. Then, they’re going to want you to do something. I’m not sure what because I’ve never stopped to listen to this shit for the required amount of time. They have to want either money or action. They will get neither from me. First of all, I have no money. Second, I’m not going to take any action at their request. I’m not going to do any volunteer work for you because I already do volunteer work I chose myself without being accosted on the street. I’m not going to sign up for anything so you can send me spam emails. I’m not going to sign any sort of petition presented to me by anyone on the street ever under any circumstances (marijuana legalization is an exception, because the language of that would be very straightforward and you have to have exceptions). People petition for crazy shit and it gets on the ballot because people on the street think it sounds okay and sign it and it ends up being a steaming pile of horseshit that should never pass in a million years but now we have to worry about it because it’s on the goddamn ballot. I mean, I’m sure my expensive-ass lawyer mind could figure out what you’re asking me to sign, but I don’t want to be put on the spot like that. If I’m going to sign something, it’ll be because I want to and I’ve independently researched the issue. Finally, I’m not going to give you money or do what you’re requesting because doing so would be encouraging you to stand on the street and annoy people. I don’t want that!
2. I don’t have bunions. I just accessorize as if I do.