Canvassing or Harassing

by Ellen Rex

It’s a beautiful Thursday evening on San Diego State’s gorgeous campus, and I’m exhausted from a long day of lectures, midterms, unnecessary human interaction and work.  All I want is some passion tea from Starbucks and an unreasonably large Subway sandwich. As I walk to East Commons, unwinding and enjoying the chilly breeze, I spot them—the infamous, self-righteous, holier-than-thou Save The Children canvassers.

As I get closer, I make the grave mistake of making eye contact; not that they would have let me walk through without demanding my attention, but it was worth a shot. Canvasser No. 1 is busy badgering and cornering a girl who is trying to explain that she doesn’t give her information to strangers (smart), while canvasser No. 2 is eyeing me and moving to stand directly in my path (not so smart). The poor girl finally breaks away from canvasser No.1 and now both are fully focused on me. This really isn’t the kind of male attention I was hoping for.

As I attempt to walk through them, I hear my all-time favorite Save The Children attention getter, “Aye! Do you want to help save the children?” First of all, the correct lead-in is, “Excuse me,” not, “Aye.” You don’t know me. We’re not bros. Be polite and formal when speaking to strangers, especially when you’re trying to get their money. Secondly, let’s be honest, you don’t even know which children need to be saved. You don’t care whether I help save them or not; you’re just doing this to make some side money, which means you have no right to be judgmental when I politely decline. Your rude, “Wow, really?” response to my polite, “No thank you. Sorry,” is really not appreciated.

My second favorite attention getter from Save The Children canvassers has to be, “You look like someone that cares about the children.” First of all, there is no good answer to that. If I say no, I’m a heartless jerk. If I say yes, I’m stuck here listening to your spiel for the next 20 minutes, even though I already know there’s no way I’m giving you my credit card information. Secondly, how does someone look like they care about children? Is it the long brown hair? The dark jeans and combat boots? Would you say the same thing to someone with a mohawk and lip piercing? Maybe they care more about the children than I do. You don’t know, so, stop judging a book by its cover.

The Save The Children canvassers are the only ones I’ve ever had a problem with. The sweet, older gentlemen that ask people to sign the petition of the day are always very nice. When I refuse to sign because I don’t have time to read over the petition, they tell me to have a nice day, even though I just completely blew them off. Even the frat guys trying to get me to go to Rubio’s or La Casita’s to help them raise money still smile and say, “That’s okay; have a good night,” when I tell them I’m going somewhere else. When I say, “Sorry, late for class” to the environmentalists trying to get me to help them save the whales, they smile and say, “Okay, maybe later,” even though we both know I’m not coming back. So, why can’t Save The Children canvassers be just as nice?

They are one of the few groups of canvassers that are actually paid for their work.  Other canvassers do it simply because they believe in the cause and want to help, yet somehow they manage to be far less judgmental than their Save The Children counterparts. As representatives of the company they work for, Save The Children canvassers should be setting a good example and creating a positive image for the organization, not one where they seem like obnoxious, self-righteous jerks that make everyone want to find a way around them and avoid all eye contact. Thank you frat guys, sweet older gentlemen and environmentalists for keeping my faith in humanity alive after these unfortunate encounters.