Canvassers are OUT OF HAND.

There are so many canvassers (“clipboards” as I sometimes call them) around the UDC-DCSL campus that setting foot outside the building is often best avoided. I can see why people feel like walking and public transit are for losers when we have to deal with this.

Two days ago, as I waited for a bus, attempting to text for arrival times from NextBus with one hand, while working a crossword with the other, a canvasser came up to me, asked me whether I’d like to hear about her cause, but launched into a spiel without pausing to give me an opportunity to say “no”. After having initially begun to put my things aside to interact with her, I went back to them as soon as it became clear she wasn’t going to give me an opportunity to say no. If I hadn’t been able to communicate my disinterest before, perhaps it would come across now. Well it did, and eventually she said “are you interested” to which I simply replied “no”.

Well, she was upset that I “could have just said ‘no’ in the first place” (exactly what I would have done if I could have) and “didn’t have to just ignore” her (exactly what I wound up having to do). It ruined my day, and probably hers.

I was marked by five more canvassers that day near UDC-DCSL. One of them twice.

Was there a better way around this? A way that makes human scale urban community living advantageous over automotive suburban distance?


I made some cards to hand out to prattling clipboards (preferrably pre-prattle). The idea is to acknowledge the importance of spreading awareness of important causes, and to make sure that the interest in polite and respectful urban interactions is given primacy. The text of the cards, for those of you who don’t wish to download it:

In the interest of civility & expediency, please know that I do not commit to charitable contributions during face-to-face encounters. In exchange for the courtesy of this understanding, I solemnly promise to carefully consider & evaluate materials & web addresses you offer quickly and quietly.

After handing out a few, perhaps the big symbol can be worn as a badge to make what is essentially a contractual agreement (don’t make any decision about your rights on the basis of this statement – it is not intended as legal advice; seek advice from your local bar association or other legal professional) clear to the canvassers. The point is not to act in any way anti-canvasser, but to make the whole process more humane by offering the canvassers what they want (serious consideration of their materials and more notoriety for their cause) in exchange for their part in making the sidewalks more courteous places.

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