It seems you can’t go anywhere in Brooklyn these days without getting accosted by at least 10 different activist groups: Greenpeace, Save the Children, Gay Rights, Hasidic Jewish men asking me if I’m Jewish. Don’t get me wrong. I am all for saving the environment and the children, fighting for gay rights, and the right to practice religion. I just don’t want them stopping me on the street every five seconds. A five minute walk from the supermarket to my house becomes a 30 minute walk, because I either a.)try to weave in and out of streets to avoid them, or b.) get stuck talking to them because I feel so terrible when they say “Don’t you want to save the children today ma’am”? They don’t seem to care if you’re on your cell phone (usually a fake call, so I don’t have to talk to them) or if you have a screaming, desperately-needs-a-nap child in your care. They will accost you no matter what the circumstances.
Once, I made the mistake of stopping to talk to someone from Greenpeace. My son was actually calm that day, and I wasn’t in a particularly big rush, so I thought, “Why not? I’m a recycler. I care about the environment. Let’s give this a shot”. I thought I could just get some information, and be on my merry way. But once you start talking to these guys, they create a verbal vice around your soul and don’t let go until they’ve emptied your bank account, and your will to live. They kept saying, it only costs as much as a daily cup of coffee. “Well, I can’t afford a daily cup of coffee – so where does that leave me?”, I asked. They replied, “I bet if you really looked at your finances you would see that you could afford it. How can you afford to not save the environment… for your children, and your children’s children?” “Well let me think about it”, I replied. “Can I take a pamphlet and just sign up on-line?” “Oh no”, he replies. “We can only take donations here…on the street.” Just give us your credit card number, and we will charge you every month for the rest of your natural life. You can trust me. I’m wearing a Greenpeace tee shirt. Oh great, I think. A Greenpeace tee-shirt. Well, he must be legit then. Let me just give you my social security number too while I’m at it.
Look, I’m sure these guys are all perfectly legit, and I know this is their grassroots way of getting the word out, raising money, etc. But if they can’t find another street in Brooklyn upon which to bother the nice people of my neighborhood, can they at least let us take some information, think it over, and then hand our credit card number over to greenpeace.org, rather than some pimply faced teenager with an activist tee shirt on?
Next time someone asks me if I have a minute to save the children, I’m going to just be honest and say, “No I actually don’t have a moment, thank you very much. Because in about 30 seconds I am going to get accosted by your cohorts over at Greenpeace, and then another 30 seconds after that I will be accosted by the Gay Rights folks, and by the time I get home I won’t have enough money left in my wallet to feed my own child.”