Well summer is here again in the UK, and my walk from the office to the station has undergone its yearly transformation. Gone is the peaceful after-work walk along London's South Bank, and in its place is the stress filled parody of the Trench run from Star Wars. In place of the tie fighters and laser towers are the enemy of all late running commuters - the dreaded chuggers.
Better known as Charity Muggers, chuggers are those people, armed with a clipboard, a bright green jacket thing and a stupid expression who attempt to sign you up to giving money to a charity. Unfortunately they seem to be dedicated to doing it in as annoying a way as possible. Picture the scene - one slightly stressed programmer speeding along on his way to the station. Time is scarce - one min too late and the train will have gone. Just as the programmer is thinking that he'll make it to the station in time there is a flurry of movement in the corner of his eye... suddenly a desperately cheerful grin is in front of his face, and a clipboard is blocking his way. As the commuter executes the pedestrian equivalent of an emergency stop, the (slightly strained) grinning clown emits a falsely up-beat "Can you spare a minute for horribly disfigured Albanian chipmunks?". "Grrr do I look like I can spare a minute?" replies the commuter, attempting to get around the chugger who is desperatly thrusting leaflets in the commuter's face. Having finally shaken off the guilt trip attack the commuter sets off, hearing the faint cries of "it'll only take 5 minutes to fill out a form sir!" fade into the distance.... and then another clip board slams into his shoulder. "Sorry about that sir, got a minute for homeless Albanian chipmunks?".
OK, so its not quite that bad, but the chuggers along the South Bank in London have developed a really annoying tactic - about a dozen of them string out along the path about 10 metres apart, meaning that you get accosted every few steps along the way. Avoiding them has now turned into a kind of sport - I have to walk along the path in a way that I always have at least one person between me and the next nearest chugger. I think they look at people walking along, and attempt a blockage in direct correlation to how fast the person is walking - the faster the commuter is going, the more they get in the way. I've seen one chugger actually dive on to the floor in front of a commuter to stop them getting away.
Now I know that they're doing it for a good reason, and I do support the charities (some of the most annoying chuggings are when its one that I already give to), but when I'm clearly walking along in a hurry it is a bit annoying to be accosted umpteen times in five minutes by people asking the same question. I feel like shouting "YOU MORON. IF I DIDNT HAVE A MINUTE FOR ALBANIAN CHIPMUNKS FOR THE LAST THREE GUYS, WHAT MAKES YOU THINK I HAVE NOW?!", but of course I dont because I'm British and Britons are allergic to complaining in public.
Anyway, do chuggers turn up elsewhere as well? Anyone else get annoyed by them, or am I just a moody Scrooge? [ May 18, 2004: Message edited by: Joe King ]
Same story here in the US. They pass a basket in the movie theaters right before the movie starts (what is this, a fucking church?), the cachiers at the supermarket are tirelessly asking for two dollars, and your employer is insisting on a "100% participation" in the donation campaign to a well known corrupt charity.
Doesn't happen much in the US. Usually, they only talk to you if you are staring at them trying to figure out what they are doing. If you are just walking along and don't pay any attention to them, they usually leave you be. I don't know where Eugene lives, but I've lived in NJ, NYC and CA and have never had a grocery store employee ask for money.
Eugene's experience is not anything I have ever encountered in the USA. As far as how chuggers would make out in the US, have you ever seen the movie Airplane where Robert Stack ends up leaving a pile of beaten up Hare Krishnas and others in his wake as he maneuvers through the airport?
I live in St. louis, MO, USA. I can think of 2-3 stores i frequent where when i am checking out, i'm asked "would you like to donate [some amount] to such-and-such a charity?" my wife always says "sure", and i always say "no". There's not really a lot of OVERT pressure, but there's some.
I can think of 2-3 other chains that have little "coupons" you can tear off for different denominations that adds that amount to your bill for the charity. this is not as intrusive, and doesn't bother me at all.
There are only two hard things in computer science: cache invalidation, naming things, and off-by-one errors
I've never had anyone accost me in US. Only once did a store clerk at Kohls ask for a donation of a dollar to which I agreed. Eugene's experience appears to be very unique.
During Christmas time in US, the Salvation Army bell ringers stand by the entrances & exits of stores in the malls & shopping plazas; but they never exhibit in-your-face attidute.
Our area's organic food store (Wild Oats) encourages bringing our own grocery bags by chipping in towards charities a nickel (their nickel) for each bag that we bring (reuse not recycle). What they do is they give the customer (who has brought one's own bags) a wooden nickel (per bag) & the customer can drop it in a container of the charity of one's choice (they usually have 3 charities which vary every few months). At the end of the period, Wild Oats counts the # of wooden nickels per charity & contributes the equivalent of 5 times the number to that charity.
Ever Existing, Ever Conscious, Ever-new Bliss
posted 16 years ago
I live in St. louis, MO, USA. I can think of 2-3 stores i frequent where when i am checking out, i'm asked "would you like to donate [some amount] to such-and-such a charity?" my wife always says "sure", and i always say "no".
Yeah, that's what I am talking about. I see several factors here. My home state is Massachusetts -- I don't know, maybe the puritans in the heavily democratic state are more likely to solicit for charity than those wild people from the West or from the southern states in the Bible Belt. Or perhaps I look like a guy who cares about the local community and the humanity in general. Then again, there is some interpretation of what constitutes excessive solicitation. To quantify my experience, I would estimate that 1 of every 20 visits to the supermarket and 1 of every 30 visits to the movie theater involes chuggers. That may not sound like a lot, but if you go to 5 different places every day, you can expect to be confronted by a chugger every fifth day or so. On top of that, we have a two-month long donation campaign every year at work, with some shorter length mini-campaigns throughout the year.
I've had these experiences in the U.S., specifically, similar to Joe King's in Boston with regard to people pushing both charities and pushing politics of one sort or another, and similar to Eugene in Washington DC with regard to work-encouraged donations to inefficient charities. I've found that in the former case, avoiding eye contact and maintaining a steady pace at all costs are useful, and in the latter case, finding a less than huge organization to work for can help.
Something similar happened to me. You have some of these "Chuggers" standing at traffic signals in Maryland and I normally dont donate much (only once or twice). But once when I ignored a female chugger she started yelling at me. Luckily the signal turned green and I zoomed away!
Another time, I asked for directions in Washington DC and the lady who helped me demanded that I pay her in return. It was a unique experience to shell out a buck for directions!!
Commentary From the Sidelines of history
posted 16 years ago
Its quite interesting that in the US, where people are stereotypically seen as quite assertive, there isn't as much pressure from chuggers as in the UK where people are seen as being rather more passive. This is especially so in London - the average Londoner can walk miles through the city without once making eye-contact with another person. If Mickey mouse jumped out of a drain pipe and started singing "Vogue" then most London commuters wouldn't even glance in their direction. Against this background of people generally ignoring each other, a person who suddenly leaps up and deliberately gets in your way seems extremely odd. Perhaps they know that the average Londoner would be to polite to get angry with them, where as an American would most likely give them a slap
This seems to be a steadily growing trend though - a few years ago I don't remember seeing any where near as many chuggers. There's also been a large growth in the number of door-to-door enquiries, often from dodgy religious groups (I've lost track of the number of times I've been offered scrolls or good news). I feel like printing a t-shirt with a message on it: "I'm in a hurry, I've already got double-glazing, I'm an atheist, I know who I'm going to vote for and I already give money to a similar charity".
What's even more worrying is how much money the charities are spending on these schemes. I read somewhere that something like half the money donated to the Red Cross goes on their administration. [ May 19, 2004: Message edited by: Joe King ]
Not as bad here in the Netherlands but it happens. Here they have another tactic, they wait until you're home and then accost you in the supposed safety of your own home.
I did the math some years ago about what it would cost me to give a more than token amount to every charity that asks for my money and came up with something that was more than my income... That's when I decided to not give any to any of them. Most are heavily subsidised from my income tax anyway so I donate to them whether I want to or not indirectly. I won't let them work on my conscience to give them even more.
I was repeatedly accosted on a trip down the high street last week by one of these outfits. It was close to closing time and not many marks were left. I must have been stopped about 10 times (twice by some of them) aand asked 'do you have a minute'? Of course. The store is closing in 2 minutes so of course I have a minute to sign away �10 a month to Albanian chipmunks! I actually felt hunted.
I've come to the conclusion that the only solution which will work involves wearing steel-toed hiking boots and making use of them in the obvious spot. I don't think the PC's would like that much..... [ May 19, 2004: Message edited by: Don Stadler ]
Ew. You guys are ugly with a capital UG. Here, maybe this tiny ad can help:
Building a Better World in your Backyard by Paul Wheaton and Shawn Klassen-Koop