With the next presidential election fast approaching, we're about to see a massive influx of people trying to get the word out about the candidate or issue of their choosing. You will most often see them clutching a clipboard and pleading with you to sign their petition. No matter what side of the party line you've planted your flag on, there's one thing we can all agree on -- these people must be avoided at all costs.
Here are a few classic petition wielder avoidance tactics that, inevitably, each and every one of us will turn to, no matter how ridiculous it makes us look ...
#5. The Meat Shield
As you approach the unavoidable petitioner, you'll see them gearing up to assault you with friendliness and "just a moment of your time for a worthy cause." Before they get the chance, seize the person nearest to you and engage them in conversation. Ask for the time, a dollar for the bus or their opinion on the complexities of Obama's health care plan and look completely engaged until you're out of the danger zone. Don't worry about them thinking you're crazy -- they're probably using you as a meat shield, too.
#4. The Wire
As you approach the danger zone, search your person for any electronic device, functional or otherwise. Earphones don't have to be plugged into anything. Just stick them in your ears and start rocking out to your imaginary music. Double points if you've got nothing playing. Then you can listen to their useless pleas as you walk casually past. If you don't have earphones, go for the cell. Make the imaginary conversation about something awkward and embarrassing to ensure that you're not accosted.
#3. And the Oscar Goes To ...
This one is easy if the petitioners have set up near a campus and you look relatively young. Hurry your step until you look like an agitated, power-walking middle-aged woman, minus the frightening spandex. Look at your watch or cellphone as if in the deepest distress. If the petitioner is on campus and asks if you're interested in reducing greenhouse gases, you can look at the sidewalk and mutter "Sorry, late for class." Otherwise you can look up, let a single tear leak down your cheek and whisper "Mom loved greenhouse gases." Then break into sobs and hurry on your way.
#2. The Deaf Ear
This is the one to use when you have no props on you and it's too difficult to circumnavigate the area because they have petitioners on BOTH sides of the sidewalk. For this one, you just have to shut your brain off and fill your head with the word "No." Firm but polite, you will say it for anything. "Do you have a moment to- ?" "No." "Are you registered to- ?" "No." "Have you heard about- ?" "NO." Unfortunately, as you're trying to blitz your way through the area, someone is eventually going to trip you up with a newly phrased question. "Do you want to oppose the brutal rape of three-legged puppies?" "No! ... Shit." And now you're going to feel bad all day.
#1. The Miserable Fail
Despite all the evasive tactics you might take, eventually some aggressive hippie is going to step in front of you and firmly demand that you respect the social customs of courtesy and listening skills. When this happens, all exit routes are useless. You'll find yourself admitting that, well, of course you care about babies and pandas. The only thing to do is to offer up your wallet and signature now and wait for it to be over.