We’ve all seen them – lying in wait on busy sidewalks, looking friendly and trying to get eye contact like an attention-starved puppy. Although they exhibit a range of appearances (beards to bowties to crocs), they all have at least one thing in common – clipboards. That, and they want your time, attention, and money.
Yup, I’m talking about those grassroots campaigners, aka the clipboard people.
I feel for these peeps, I truly do. They’ve taken on a task that requires constant rejection and, more often than not, palpable social loathing. But do they really deserve our fear and disdain? After all, they’re just fellow humans trying to do good by good and make the world a better place. They should be treated with minimum assholery, right?
But don’t tell me you haven’t had the fight-or-flight instinct kick in as soon as you spot their sweet, friendly, waving figures on the horizon. Plus, let’s be honest – we’re all kind of jerks anyway. So if we’re going to ignore them, we might as well be strategic about it.
Here are 15 ways to power past the clipboards with minimal stress and maximum time saved so you can get home and binge-watch Netflix:
1. Fake call your mom
Engage in the classic go-to fake phone call. Make sure to answer loudly and pretend to be irritated by her curiosity about your dating life.
2. Mime your way out
Point to a non-existent watch and shrug. Pretend to be dragged off by an imaginary giant hook. Side shuffle out of frame.
3. Walk behind a weaker candidate
If you feel meek, seek out a meeker pedestrian. Trail behind as they inevitably get caught up in the uncomfortable task of addressing what ways they can help the whales of the world.
4. Dramatically pretend you forgot something
… so that you feel justified in walking abruptly in the opposite direction. This one’s about production value, thus the more animated you are, the better you’ll feel about yourself. Throw up your hands. Face palm. Shake your head in disbelief.
5. Carry around a prop clipboard at all times
There’s an unwritten rule that people with clipboards feel threatened by other people with clipboards. When in range, hold up your own clipboard while making direct eye contact and furiously scribbling a grocery list. Walk past undisturbed.
6. Fake cry
Look up sadly and mutter an elongated, “Sorry.” If they continue their approach, muster tears that would do your improv class proud. Wail until out of vocal range.
7. Throw out fighting words
These don’t have to be traditional profanities. You can simply yell out hot topics like… "Bay area rental costs!" Or, "Google bus!" The resulting debate will create enough chaos to save you.
8. Yell, “FREE (insert anything)!”
This will be effective in distracting not only the canvassers but also any surrounding pedestrians. The resulting stampede to get whatever free offering you’ve falsely promised will be enough to give you cover for the getaway.
9. Organize a flash mob game of sidewalk Red Rover
Band together with others and challenge the clipboard people to a game of Red Rover. Your pure and animalistic drive to escape the situation will most likely propel you through their opposing linked arms. Likely.
10. Call an Uber to drive you past the danger zone
Whip out that phone and get an Uber to drive you down the street or into a safe zone (NOT Market Street). Use this one only if you are really desperate to get away and/or have a shitload of money burning a hole in your pocket.
11. Put on a sweatband and pretend you’re on a run
Attire yourself with any available workout gear and trot past with the laser focus of a marathon runner. If an attempt to communicate is made, point to your Fitbit and pant.
12. Out question their questions
Use their questions against them by escalating the passion until one of you gives up.
"Do you care about the children?"
"Do YOU care about the children?????"
"Do you care about the environment?"
"Do YOU care about the environment?????"
13. The hug and roll
It’s already a popular technique to rid yourself of a clingy bedmate spooner but the potential in this circumstance is equally valuable. Silently approach as a clipboarder waves you over, go in for a hug, and roll away upon release.
14. Moonwalk backwards past them
Channel the king of pop and get fancy with your footwork. Crotch grab optional but bonus points for receiving any monetary tips for your street performance.
And if all else fails...
15. Give up and accept your fate
There’s no way out. They’ve made eye contact, you’ve slowed down, and the spiel has begun. Nod along and find solace in the fact that your sacrifice will save others from the same destiny. You’re a noble, noble soul.
Photo by Guerilla Haiku Movement via Flickr