Saturday, 8 December 2012


*steps up onto soapbox*

Ask and you shall receive, or so the saying goes. It kind of makes sense. After all, how do you know what someone wants if they don't tell you (and you're not a mind reader)?

I learned a new word from a friend recently: chugging (charity mugging). Carried out by chuggers, they are what we would politely refer to as street fundraisers. Street fundraisers are mostly in town on a Friday, but chuggers seem to be everywhere all of the time.

Here's a true story:
Scene: Me waiting to cross the road at the traffic lights, iPhone plugged in and watching the traffic (as you do).
Random chugger: "Have you signed the petition to save the Arctic?"
Me: "Pardon?"
Random chugger: "You can save the Arctic."
Me: "Really? How?"
Random chugger: "Just sign this."
Me: "No, thanks."
Random chugger (shakes head, looks downhearted): "That's all it would have taken."
Let me get this straight. All you need is my signature on your piece of paper and the Arctic will be saved? Heck, why bother asking anyone else! If I sign it, will you go home and leave everybody else alone, safe in the knowledge that I have just saved a significant part of the planet and they don't need to worry about it any more? No, didn't think so. I also find it hard to believe that you weren't going to ask for money next, either.

There are particular brands of chuggers that are exponentially worse than others. I'm looking at you. And you. And definitely you. They are the ones that step in your path on a busy street so you have to walk around them, or wave in front of your face, ready with a great conversation opener like, "It looks like you're enjoying listening to some music." What gave it away - the iPhone, earbuds and glazed look on my face? I managed to escape that one unscathed and crossed the road. I walked about three steps ... there's another from the same charity standing in front of me and waving me down. Seriously. *sigh*

Now, I'm all for charity collections and have spent many a rainy day over the years (it always rains on the days I volunteer) rattling a collection box on a street corner before branding donors with a sticker or badge, letting them off the hook for another week. But I think chuggers take things a step too far. In fact, they turn me off those charities completely. I have no doubt that their charity work is (probably) very worthwhile. I just think there must be a better way to fundraise and gather support than annoying people as they go about their business every day of the week.

*steps off soapbox*

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