Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Open Letter to the Frontliners

You know exactly what I'm talking about. And who I'm talking about. Actually, its not me talking, its them. The Frontliners, the Dialoggers. The young men and women who staff a given street, two on each side, wanting to convince you of the worthiness of their cause. And possibly into giving up a little bit of your hard earned cash. Maybe its the environment, or some local legislation, or that hungry looking doe-eyed child.

Dialogging, or Frontlining as Greenpeace calls it, is a marketing and fund raising tactic used by social advocacy and interest groups. Political parties, salespeople, and certain religious groups have who have been going door to door for years doing this sort of thing. But at least I can look out of my window and pretend to not be home when they call. Not so for the Frontliners. When going to lunch, I really, really just want to be left alone. If I'm not walking with you, or specifically meeting you somewhere, chances are I just want to get to the place, maybe read the paper there, and eat some food. That' it. Its not that I don't care about the oceans or climate change, I just care a little bit more at this very second about eating. Plus, I'm vegan, so I help the environment more than 90% of the PQ lunch crowd by default.

Actually, I wouldn't be so annoyed by this if the Frontliners didn't line BOTH sides of the street. I mean, I get that you want to talk to as many people as possible, but if I'm going to give enough effort to perform a shifty jaywalk across busy 7th Street to avoid you, I should be rewarded with not having to talk to you. Instead, I jump onto the curb to be greeted by, well, another Frontliner. You were two steps ahead of me, yes. You decided to staff an additional two friends on the other side of the street for "full coverage." Smart, smart. Now I look like a complete idiot when I cross the street yet again, to eat at the place I was originally trying to reach without engaging in any meaningful human interaction.

I guess I have to learn to talk to you just using the words no, or no thanks, or "I'M VEGAN" really loudly. No, ok, that was a joke. I'm not mean like that, but sometimes, I just want to get away form the office for an hour without making you feel dejected and bummed that I want to starve that doe-eyed kid for the third time this week just so I can read the newspaper in silence. I want you to make your quota and fund raising goal, I really do. And I DO want that doe-eyed kid and those wales to live another happy day, but just staff one side of the street Frontliners. Give us the choice. That's all I'm asking.