Chuggers = charity muggers who hassle you in the street
December 13, 2014 3:04 AM   Subscribe

What is the Miss Manners approved method for dealing with chuggers?

I realise chuggers are just doing their jobs and trying to earn a living. Generally, I too am trying to earn a living while they're attempting to talk to me, as my job involves visiting several retail locations during the course of a day. I am literally on the clock from the point at which I pull on my car's handbrake in the shopping centre's car park to the point at which I release it to drive off. I don't think my boss would appreciate me standing talking to these people .

My current method is to completely ignore them, usually by setting up the relevant call on my PDA. However, this feels really dehumanising. I've been a retail worker on the receiving end of such treatment and I don't want to put people in that situation. It makes my skin crawl when I do it.

I've tried googling variations on the theme of "miss manners chuggers", but haven't turned anything up. A direct quote from the lady herself would be fantastic, but failing that, a suggestion of terms to google would be most appreciated.
posted by Solomon to Human Relations (46 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
"No thankyou" with a smile always works for me.

Like you say, most chuggers are just trying to make a living & don't deserve to be treated like dirt any more than anyone else does.
posted by pharm at 3:09 AM on December 13, 2014 [3 favorites]

"No, thank you", with a firm shake of the head is fine, as far as I'm concerned. If you already know you're not going to sign up, you're doing them a favour by not allowing them to waste their time chatting to you.

Part of the challenge is not to feel guilty about saying no - if you seem like you're wavering, they'll redouble their efforts. The way I see it, it's actually better to make choices about charitable giving in a thoughtful and strategic way, instead of being influenced by random people interrupting me on the street. (I also prefer not to reward charities that choose to focus their resources toward these kinds of tactics). This - and the fact that I do regularly give time and money to charities that match my values - makes it pretty easy for me to say "no thank you" to charity muggers without a shred of guilt or uncertainty - and that makes them take my "no" seriously.

If the person is particularly insistent or grabby, I shake my head and say firmly, "No, I'm not going to stop and talk to you". If they try to block my path, I shake my head, walk around them and say, "Please don't block my path". But those situations are quite rare - mostly a "no thank you" is just fine.
posted by embrangled at 3:28 AM on December 13, 2014 [5 favorites]

Miss Manner's suggested form of refusal when one is asked for spare change by the homeless is a regretful, pleasant, "Sorry!" That would work here as well.
posted by orange swan at 3:39 AM on December 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

Smile nicely, say no thanks, don't slow down.
posted by ottereroticist at 3:40 AM on December 13, 2014 [3 favorites]

(Also, this might seem obvious, but remember that a conversation is something that requires the consent of both parties. You're not morally obligated to continue a conversation you didn't want and never agreed to participate in).
posted by embrangled at 3:42 AM on December 13, 2014 [42 favorites]

I just point at my watch and say, "Sorry, I'm in a rush".
posted by kinddieserzeit at 4:05 AM on December 13, 2014 [4 favorites]

Nod and keep walking, or say "not today, thanks."

That's as much as you need to engage.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:09 AM on December 13, 2014 [11 favorites]

You don't mention it in your question, but the most difficult thing about chuggers is that they often open with a bright "Hello!" as you approach them. In this case simply saying "No thank you" often feels a little rude as a response.

I've had reasonable success responding to their "Hello" with an equally bright "Hello!" but not slowing my pace. If they say "How are you doing?" I say "Fine, thanks," without slowing. It forces them to say "Can I talk to you for a minute?" which opens the option of a fairly mannerly: "Sorry, no thank you." But quite often we don't even get that far, and they leave it at hellos.
posted by distorte at 4:09 AM on December 13, 2014 [30 favorites]

The ones I run into will generally start with a question like, "Would you like to help a child in Haiti?" or "Do you care about marriage equality?" which are hard to actually say "No" to, so I mostly just say, "Not today!"

If it's an aggressive person who tries to block my path or whatever, I have no problem getting angry about that and telling them to leave me alone.
posted by mskyle at 4:39 AM on December 13, 2014 [8 favorites]

If they say hello, just say hello back and keep walking. If they say anything else, say "sorry, I'm working", can't chat" and still keep walking.
posted by hazyjane at 4:43 AM on December 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

Just say you signed up already. No need to say otherwise.
posted by discopolo at 4:44 AM on December 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

respond in a foreign language and look confused.
posted by HuronBob at 4:47 AM on December 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

I often go with a smile and "good luck out there." It's not an invitation to hear their sales pitch, but it is an acknowledgment that they're a real person, doing their job. (And that they'll need that luck to make quotas.)

Thank you for even saying anything. I used to do a similar flag-people-down-on-the-street job, and the worst part of it was people treating me like a tree or other inanimate obstacle to work around.
posted by ActionPopulated at 4:56 AM on December 13, 2014 [17 favorites]

"Sorry", while shaking your head.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:56 AM on December 13, 2014 [3 favorites]

"I give online" is a good one.
posted by parmanparman at 5:45 AM on December 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

Miss Manners has absolutely answered this question, if you want an answer from Judith Martin herself:

"You aren't obliged to hold conversations with any of these people, but it is courteous to acknowledge their existence, at least that of such strangers who aren't suggesting that you date them. A quick 'sorry' as you pass is enough."

(I've never heard the word "chuggers" before, so maybe it's not a common usage outside of your particular geographical region? Maybe that's why your searches turned up little?)
posted by decathecting at 6:13 AM on December 13, 2014 [27 favorites]

If you're committed to being polite to these people, (speaking as someone who spent two summers doing this type of work for causes I believe in) can I suggest that you not call them "chuggers"? The term that is more usually used is "street canvassers". I know that they can be annoying, and sometimes rude, but comparing someone who approaches you to ask for a donation to a cause to someone who takes your money with threatened or actual violence is a little offensive to me.

Or let me put it this way: Imagine this question was about how to deal with retail workers who get pushy about signing up for the store loyalty card. The question would have a very different cast if you used the term "retail peons" throughout to refer to the store clerks.

As for how to deal with them, a simple "no, thank you" without breaking your stride is sufficient. Anything else simply drags out the interaction, which if you're 100% sure you won't give is just as annoying for them as it is for you.
posted by firechicago at 6:16 AM on December 13, 2014 [18 favorites]

Really depends on the cause - we have students who do charity solicitations, and I am polite and occasionally donate, and then there are the ones who are working for charities as third-party fundraisers, where I know only a fraction goes to the charity and it's profit-driven and generally crappy because it hits public goodwill for immediate profit with longterm distrust. If you're on the same general work routes, it would be worth your time to quickly google the charities coming up again and again - ask the canvassers for a brochure because it should say in the fine print who the third-party fundraising company is. Google the company name + scam and check charitynavigator for the charity. I now refuse to donate to three of the charities that use canvassers at the mall I go to most often because I know they use the funds badly and/or I loathe the third party fundraiser.
posted by viggorlijah at 6:23 AM on December 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have to disagree with firechicago's admonishment here. The term that is more usually used is not "street canvassers", it's "chuggers". At least in the UK and Ireland, and you appear to be asking from the UK. It's a less-than-flattering term that's been earned by a practice that exploits and greatly damages friendly street culture. Not calling them "chuggers" certainly won't help you deal with being harassed by chuggers. (Of course I'm certainly not suggesting you shout it in their face!)

There may be a cultural remove between what's considered acceptable in the US and the UK. I certainly wouldn't be against a mildly derogatory term for retail workers who get pushy about signing up for the shop loyalty card. It's an effective and non-personal way to push back against aggressive commercial incursions into your personal space.
posted by distorte at 6:35 AM on December 13, 2014 [26 favorites]

[Folks, as a reminder, we need to stick to the specific question here (What is the Miss Manners approved method for dealing with [street solicitors for charity]), rather than have a general discussion about the topic. Thanks. ]
posted by taz (staff) at 6:42 AM on December 13, 2014

I've tried being friendly but disinterested, I've tried explaining that I don't give my credit card info on the street, I've tried explaining that I donate online or by mail, I've tried explaining that my charity giving is limited to certain charities I've already vetted and I have no more to spare - the reaction is comparable to replying to men on Ok Cupid to politely say not interested: rude & insulting for not giving them what they want. I now offer a very bright and cheery, "Oh! No, but *thank you*!" with a smile, and it shocks them into silence - enabling me to continue on my way. YMMV, but it's both polite & effective IME.
posted by pammeke at 6:50 AM on December 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

They are really aggressive here in Chicago, and I feel bad for them, because they are almost all young idealistic people being exploited by one of a few huge for-profit companies. I have a coworker who had little cards printed up that basically say "YOU ARE BEING EXPLOITED" in big letters at the top and a little blurb about Dialogue Direct, how charities don't get 100% of the donations they bring in because of a sneaky accounting trick, and a quote from one of the CEOs leaked from an email somewhere that said something like, "We need young idealistic people to do this work because legitimate adult employees would see right through us." Apparently he just hands them the card with a smile and keeps walking.

So, I guess if you're looking for a polite way to do the greatest good, that would be an option.
posted by juniperesque at 6:56 AM on December 13, 2014 [19 favorites]

"I'm sorry, I'm in a hurry." It's the truth for you, just say it politely but firmly. This has always worked for me, as does "I'm sorry but I'm too busy" when someone calls me.

I understand the feeling about being on the other end of this but when you are a retail worker at least they are coming into your place of business looking to be sold something. People who impede your movement on the street are breaking into your space and your workflow and you owe them nothing. You can be nice about it but if they don't realize that, they need to.
posted by BibiRose at 7:06 AM on December 13, 2014 [4 favorites]

Personally, I've found that the key is not making eye contact. Looking past them while shaking your head and mouthing the word "no" has been really effective for me. When you look them in the eye you're initiating contact and inviting them to begin their spiel; interrupting them to get them to break it off or having to sit through the thing just so you can say "not interested" at the end always feels ruder to me that simply avoiding it altogether. I don't know what kind of primate body language things are at play, but it's been my experience that as long as you don't make eye contact they'll quickly move on without even pitching you.

It's a bit like how you can avoid that back and forth sidestep dance on narrow sidewalks by focusing over the person's shoulder as you approach so they know which way you're going to head.
posted by Diablevert at 7:25 AM on December 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

I used to get locked into conversations with these sorts of people pretty frequently. I learned that it had a lot more to do with my body language than what I actually said to them. As people have said before, slowing your place, looking at them as if you're ready to engage in conversation, and just generally showing interest would get me involved in more conversations than anything I said. If you firmly say "no thanks," but slow down to look at whatever they're holding, they've got you locked in already. The real trick is to indicate with both your voice and mannerisms that you do not have the time to spend interacting with them.
posted by lownote at 8:17 AM on December 13, 2014 [3 favorites]

I often go with a smile and "good luck out there." It's not an invitation to hear their sales pitch, but it is an acknowledgment that they're a real person, doing their job. (And that they'll need that luck to make quotas.)

I get bombarded with these and ActionPopulated's advice is exactly what I do. I always get a You have a nice day, ma'am back and then they move on to the next person, no hassle at all.

Those extra few words create the path of least resistance. FWIW, I'd probably start screaming at people after being ignored, too.
posted by mochapickle at 8:31 AM on December 13, 2014

Depending on how I feel, one of ignoring their presence, "sorry, no," or, "you're making it worse."
posted by rhizome at 8:44 AM on December 13, 2014

You could definitely say, "sorry, I'm working" or "sorry, I'm on the clock" or "no thank you". Many times, I'll actually already be giving to the charity they are soliciting for - so I'll just tell them so and say something like, "keep up the good work -you guys are awesome!"
posted by Toddles at 8:46 AM on December 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

If just saying "hello!" and walking right by, or saying "no thanks!" and continuing to walk appears to be unsuccessful (or if I'm trapped as I wait for a light to change), what has worked for me in this situation is to say "I am not going to talk with you right now, have a great day!" I find this is almost always successful because only the most persistent people will continue after that, and when they do I'm either a few more paces down the street or by that point I don't mind being less cheerful and more brusque and saying "My answer was no."
posted by MoonOrb at 8:53 AM on December 13, 2014

I've done this job! And in the UK, too. So here's a few things.

Firstly, to directly answer your question:

* It's fine to ignore them! Perfectly fine. It means they can stop thinking about you and move on to the next prospect, it's like water off a duck's back. However if you can muster a smile and perhaps a mild shake of the head, it is a nice gesture. No need to make eye contact unless you want to.

* It's also fine to say any simple demurall -- "Sorry" or "No thanks" are fine, or "In a rush," "No time," "Busy," "Not today," etc. And if you're working, you can say something like "Sorry, I'm working," or "I'm on the clock," and they'll understand that too. If you already contribute to charity as much as you want to (or even if you don't, really) feel free to say "I already give," though that might prompt them to ask more questions - feel free to respond with any of the options above and keep walking.

* All of the above remain true even if they open with a specific question, or a direct greeting, or anything else. They are trying to get you to answer and engage but you have no obligation to follow that particular hook if you have something (or nothing) else to say.

* Basically, as long as you don't scowl at them, insult them, tell them you hate chuggers, etc, then it's all good. And even if you did, it's not the end of the world, though it is a crappy thing to do.

* If you sympathize with them, it is really, really nice when people give some encouragement like, "Sorry, but good luck!" or "No thanks, but have a great day!" or "Keep up the good work!" or whatever. Or even just a nice friendly smile!

Secondly, a few random observations which may give more context for this kind of interaction.

* As you know, but it can't hurt to be reminded, these are just people trying to do a job, get through to the end of the day and take home their usually meager pay. They know they annoy some people; a few don't really care but most of them want to avoid it if at all possible. It's something that comes with the nature of the job, same as with street promoters, salesmen, etc. They don't think less of anyone who doesn't stop, or who ignores them.

* Specifically, chugging is a job that is plastered all over craigslist, gumtree, the jobcenter, boards, everywhere there's people struggling to find work. Loads of ads in sunny yet pushy language making big promises about commissions, obscuring the nature of the job, etc. So anyone - the young, the under or overqualified, the ill, etc, are really pushed hard into taking this job.

* Accordingly, there is a very high turnover; most people don't make it past a few weeks or months. So most of the chuggers you see are still new to the whole thing and are constantly trying to learn the right boundaries and approaches, to engage people who want to engage without ignoring the others. It's difficult! Especially if you aren't really a "natural salesperson" and are just trying to get by.

* Going with this, they may try out various openings, approaches etc, to try and find something new to do and see if anything is particularly effective. Training also usually encourages trying to use 'lateral thinking' to come up with approaches that people aren't expecting, to avoid being tuned out. So if they say something that seems unusual or 'quirky', that's why.

* There is almost always some kind of commission system as well as a minimum target. Usually rather strict. So the worst thing you can do to a chugger is to waste their time, either ill-meaning by stopping to harangue them with your thoughts on charity, street fundraising, or whatever, or even well-meaning by talking to them for too long without any intention of signing up.

* Having said that, two things. Firstly, if you do want to chat with them in a friendly way, it is usually a nice relief and helps the day go by faster with less misery. But because of the above, please don't take up too much time. Secondly, they always have a set 'spiel' and they will want to deliver this to you. It usually takes about 1-5 minutes depending on how patient you seem. If you know your answer will definitely be no, please say so first. This includes if you're going to say "Okay, I'll go to your website and sign up there". They get nothing towards their targets unless you sign up directly with them, at least, that was the case when I was doing it.

* They are not in charge of anything. If you have a problem with their charity, or the company that hires them, or the principle of street fundraising, or whatever else, please don't take it up with them. If the appropriate channel is the charity's/company's website, phone number or whatever then take it there -- feel free to ask them or their team leader for the details.

* If you feel insulted or overly aggressed by any particular fundraiser (or team of them) in a way that is unreasonable, you have every right to address that but, again, please don't yell at the fundraisers themselves. It is really, really horrible. If you really feel the need to yell, ask to see their team leader, who will always be nearby and keeping an eye on them (in fact they'll usually turn up themselves if there is an obvious confrontation). If you would like to lodge a complaint, they will ask you to do it through their website or phone number (feedback given in person will usually not be passed on specifically). If you do, it will help the company to manage and instruct their teams better on how to avoid offense. However you may also want to relay any bad experiences to the Fundraising Standards Board if it is more serious or if you want to be more sure of it having an effect.

* Alternatively if you're annoyed, but not angry, by the specific approach you receive, it is usually taken well if you stop to briefly give feedback to the individual fundraiser in a calm and respectful manner. It's fine to say something like, "Sorry, but you're being too pushy," or "Please don't get in my face like that," or "You should see I'm not in the mood for a conversation," or "I don't want to answer that question," and then move on. As above, they are usually still learning and are incentivized to skirt boundaries. As long as you're not being intimidating or spiteful about it they should usually apologize and let you go on your way.

* There are various rules and guidelines they have to follow, e.g. not operating right outside shops, tube stations, etc. They cannot walk with you and talk (because even if you want them to, others might see it as harassing). They will usually not bother people who stop to e.g. sit down, eat lunch, wait at a bus stop, etc. And in general, they are supposed to not badger people after an initial question if they don't engage, get too close to people or get in their way, etc. If they break those rules, feel free to call them out on it according to how seriously they break them, by the means above.

* Just to re-emphasize, making chuggers hate their job is not a good deed. There will always be more. If you demoralize them, even if you make them quit, it will just mean higher overheads, and worse-trained and less-cheerful people out there. If you want to affect how/if street fundraising is used, take it up with the relevant company, charity, ombudsman or other authority.

* One last thing to bear in mind is that street fundraising is usually a pretty reasonable investment for charities to make. A few years ago it was significantly ahead of any fundraising channel in terms of ROI. This is starting to decline now that the public in general is 'getting tired' of them; the easy pickings are already signed up and they don't have the novelty value. Nevertheless, if the charity wasn't making more money from them than they spent, then they wouldn't be on the street. The fact that they're doing some good is one of the few/only nice things for these workers to hang onto that makes the grind of canvassing bearable, so please don't treat them like parasites.

I guess that's about it for now... happy to answer any questions. :)
posted by Drexen at 8:55 AM on December 13, 2014 [23 favorites]

That's a huge plate of beans from Drexen. I just hold up a hand and shake my head as I pass, without slowing down. I don't want a discussion or a friendly encounter, I want to get on with my day.
posted by zadcat at 10:42 AM on December 13, 2014

I am no Miss Manners, but this is my approach to these and other unwelcome interactions:

1. A polite "Sorry, no" with no qualifications or excuses. Smile, make eye contact, shrug your shoulders, wish them luck, any friendly/polite gesture you like, but do not qualify the no. It was very difficult for me to train myself not to provide excuses, like, "I gave already," "I'm busy" or even just "not now," but any excuse you give can be used as a wedge. They often have scripts designed specifically for these, to turn a rejection into a negotiation. But a straight up No is a straight up No, and most people will respect that. Once you have given them a clear "no," any further arguments are violating an important (I'd say sacrosanct) social contract. This is important to remember in the event that they try to plow through, because you may need to be ruder than you're comfortable being.

2. You may now cut them off if they continue. Depending on their demeanor, and frankly, on your mood at the time, you can give them one more polite rejection, or you can go straight into rudeness. So you can, effectively, react anywhere on the, "Sorry, but I said no," or "BACK OFF NOW." (I don't know if this happens in the UK, but I have had people physically grab at me or try to block me, and those are the guys who get yelled at.)

Like I said, it was very tough for me to stop qualifying, and it was also difficult to get myself in the frame of mind where I even could be assertive with people trying to steamroll me, but people like that were demanding too much of my time and energy, so it was really worth it to kind of get pre-mad about people not taking no for an answer. I can now dispense with them much more quickly and effectively, with pretty much no residual guilt at all. It's great!
posted by ernielundquist at 10:52 AM on December 13, 2014

I used to live in a city in the U.S. where some of these folks were incredibly pushy and persistent, especially if I gave off a friendly vibe as I said my "No, thanks!" They'd follow me down the street, trying to get me to stop and chat and donate. "I'm not interested" or "I'm in a hurry" just seemed to invite more persistence ("Are you not interested in ending world hunger?" "It will only take a minute of your time, promise!"). I think they had a scripted response for almost every usual variation of "no."

One day, I was truly in a hurry because I had a tub of melting ice cream in my bag. I was asked by one of these folks if I care about the environment, and I said, "My ice cream's melting, I have to get this home!!!" Their reaction was to immediately back off to let me save my precious ice cream. An idea was born, and I've used this tactic successfully with other pushy pushersons. I think it works because, well, who doesn't love ice cream!?

Of course, this will only work if you have a bag with you, and if it's not freezing cold outside.
posted by sweetpotato at 11:32 AM on December 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

I think it really is about body language/tone of voice. And the fact that you asked for the Miss Manners response indicates that you are probably giving off a vibe that encourages them. I always just cut them off with a preemptive "not interested." This is very effective. I say it right away and don't sound apologetic. They get the message and back off right away. It's not really rude, you're not going to hurt their feelings. You just have to be firm in your response.
posted by catatethebird at 12:55 PM on December 13, 2014

Their act of friendliness is totally self-serving. I regard them as about equivalent to obnoxious and intrusive advertising, and respond accordingly - that is, I act as of they're not there at all. I don't make eye contact, I don't engage verbally, I don't slow or speed up my pace, I don't feel guilty. If they happen to cross my gaze, I look straight through them - I don't alter my behaviour in any way. I don't give them any psychological reinforcement whatsoever.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 1:56 PM on December 13, 2014 [3 favorites]

I can't walk more than a block or two from my front door without passing someone wanting something, from a homeless person asking for change, to kids selling to candy, to adults with petitions (they don't all directly approach me because there are a lot of other people walking around my neighborhood.)

As lots of others have said, I find that "Sorry" with a little smile is usually more than enough. I just wanted to add that headphones or ear buds discourage all kinds of unwanted interactions. I often wear them just to block the din of city noises.
posted by Room 641-A at 2:02 PM on December 13, 2014

Realize that they are using an approach that abuses social norms to make you feel like a jerk if you don't slow down and talk.

Realize that they are probably making a commission and are motivated to figure out as quickly as possible who might or might not give money.

Not slowing down or giving any glimmer of hope is the best thing you can do for both of you.
posted by the jam at 2:33 PM on December 13, 2014 [5 favorites]

I've found that saying, "I already gave to your charity. Thanks!" helps. They usually respond with a "Thanks" and a smile. It feels weird being dishonest, but it gets them to stop bothering me.
posted by parakeetdog at 4:03 PM on December 13, 2014

"I'm sorry, I can't help you."
posted by Grumpy old geek at 4:15 PM on December 13, 2014

I find it stressful to fail to acknowledge people doing this, and not necessarily obvious that you're doing it (which causes them to escalate their attempts to contact). Personally, I find these interactions most satisfying if I meet their gaze as soon as they notice me, hopefully before they get their greeting out. And I smile a fairly loose smile*, and only make the loosest of eye contact while shaking my head, if necessary saying a breezy "No, thanks".

Planning your path so you don't pass within 2 or 3 metres of someone doing this, but without making any obvious detours to avoid them is also useful. It depends how wide the pavement is, and how far ahead you can see them.

I used to find people doing this problematic (for all the reasons about people exploiting basic social protocol to create a sense of obligation that other posters have mentioned), but I have to say that this laid back, but pre-emptive approach normally leaves me with a genuine friendly smile on my face. It's the kind of thing that the British style of semi-detached public interaction works quite well for.

*That sounds a funny way to describe a smile. I guess I mean making the gentlest movement possible to make your mouth into a smile while leaving your face as relaxed as possible. It's all about the looking and feeling relaxed.
posted by ambrosen at 4:22 PM on December 13, 2014

I don't break stride, big smile, breezy "no thank you!" I feel like Miss Manners would be OK with that.
posted by gaspode at 8:18 PM on December 13, 2014

"No thanks, not today". Don't stop walking.

They won't take it personally, they know they have a sucky job which is basically to annoy people.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:16 PM on December 13, 2014

If it's a cause I really like (Southern Poverty Law Center is pretty common where I am in California, for instance) I'll say something like "No, but thanks for doing this work."

The people who say "spare a minute to save a starving child?" I'll say "absolutely not!" because sentimental manipulation pisses me off.

Everyone else gets "not today, thanks."

Anyone who dares follow me (it's only happened once) gets me yelling in their face that they'd better back the fuck off.

It does get tedious. For 15 years I've worked in a well-to-do neighborhood catering to ex-counter culture types. (Gourmet Ghetto in Berkeley if anyone's wondering.) It's prime hunting ground for people who were previously idealistic and still feel guilty over their $150 t shirts. However, it is SO blanketed with these canvassers that even the most guilt-ridden ex-hippies have ended up jaded and irritated by them.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:17 PM on December 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

people treating me like a tree or other inanimate obstacle to work around.

Sorry, but that's an approach that works for me: no eye contact, focus past them, veer a wide radius... they'd have to actually move their body to be in my line of sight. If the sidewalk is crowded enough, someone else will be an easier target. I sometimes go with "sorry - good luck!" but if I can't deal, then just avoiding works. "Already gave" is also good.
posted by salvia at 11:21 PM on December 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

"I'm sorry, no"

"I'm sorry, not today"

"I'm sorry, I'm in a rush"


... depending on your level of guilt-riddenness/assertiveness. They are quite aggressive in Chicago, sometimes if I'm in a sociable mood I'll make a kind of humorous regretful face and just say, "Nooo, sorry!" Like we both know the score, sorry, I have some shopping to do (and prefer to think about my charitable donations for more than 5 seconds).
posted by stoneandstar at 2:15 PM on December 14, 2014

I have a couple of friends who were chuggers. They said the best response from someone who is not going to stop was to keep moving, smile (if you feel up to a smile), shake your head and say 'Sorry', 'No thanks' or something similarly neutral. Note that they're working hard to meet quite high targets, so anything more than this is wasting both your time and theirs. As long as you're not screaming at them in the street (which happened to my friends dismayingly often), they'll forget you by the time you're out of their eyeline.
posted by Happy Dave at 3:54 AM on December 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

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