13 July 2007

The girl whose 5 minutes Greenpeace doesn't want

Whether it's 10am, 12pm or a shade before happy hour, without fail, Greenpeace has a three-person presence five steps outside the glass doors of my office building.

These young idealists come in a melange of brochure-friendly makeup-spare faces bedecked in REI-inspired ensembles of a fitted company t-shirt, sturdy khaki short shorts, strappy athletic sandals and messenger bags emblazoned with whichever anarchist happened to be the most in-vogue at UVM when they graduated; they deliver their save-the-planet pitch with a righteous gusto that is alarmingly in-your-face but so undeniably sincere that if I weren't always in such a pinch to get to Cosi during the lunch rush or home by 6:30 to promptly walk the muffinloop, I'd probably allow them to suck me into at least listening to that familiar 10-word first question: "Excuse me, can I have 5 minutes of your time?"

Yesterday, at 5:45, I finally had my chance.

Having wrapped up at work a bit early and inspired by the sunshine to take my new mocha-hued Charles David Rosa peep toes for their inaugural strut up to Larry's for a small froyo with rainbow jimmies, I exited one set of heavy glass doors, then another, turned a hard left and headed out in my favorite DvF wrap dress toward the Greenpeace gauntlet awaiting me on the stretch of sidewalk just before the ConnAve/M St. intersection.

There they were, the three of them, all young women somewhere between the ages of 22 and 24, clipboards gripped in unmoisturized hands and bandannas tightly wrapped around half-ponytails, reeking - I imagined - of patchouli, organic fruit leathers and Michael Moore.

"Have at me, ladies," I thought to myself as I passed The Vitamin Shoppe, then Radio Shack, then Sun Trust Bank then...then nothing.

"Wait a minute," I said, whipping around to see how I could have made it from point A to point B without an accost. There they still were, standing in their same spots, not looking at me - at that time, the only person in their proximity - one picking at her cuticles, one smiling so hard I was afraid she might get a jaw cramp and the other, quite appropriately, eating a SoyJoy granola bar.


Then it dawned on me, here I am always complaining and demeaning and unnecessarily mocking the clipboarders for their I'll-talk-to-anyone-about-my-cause-because-it's-just-that-important-to-me approach - because, I mean, come on, who really wants to talk to anyone? - but throughout my stereotyping and throughout all my bitching, not once, never on a single solitary occasion since they invaded my ConnAve/M St. perch two years ago, have any of them ever made an attempt to speak with me. And more often than not, like yesterday, they aren't even engaged when they ignore me.

"You're lucky, you know, that they don't harrass you," a fatherly gentleman in his early 50s said with a half-laugh, as he sided up next to me to wait for the light to change, "they always get me."

"Yeah...I suppose I'm not their target audience," I replied, doing my best to hold back my genuine I-thought-everyone-liked-me disappointment.

(sizing me up from my sideswept bangs to my default deadpan facial expression to my rack-showcasing dress to my black pedicured toes) "I'd say not," he said, this time with a full-bodied laugh.

Still slightly in a huff that anyone, especially an organization that expressly advocates on their website and in their literature the notion of making a difference through involving "as many ordinary people as possible," would deem me unworthy of a simple chat-up, I turned on the tip of my stiletto, put on Peaches at full-volume and turned my thoughts to "vanilla or swirl?".


Melanie said...

Long time reader, first time commenter.

I work in the same part of town as you, and the Greenpeace kids always look like they want to accost me. The problem is, they have to catch me first! I work for a magazine about environmental science and policy...the last thing I want when I'm outside enjoying the sunshine is for somebody to talk to me about work...so I pick up the pace and try to look as anti-ecoterrorism as possible (which isn't hard, because I am indeed against ecoterrorism...screws it up for the rest of us who'd just like some clean air and water, you know?).

Also, Larry's=excellent.

Brooke said...

I envy you for not being the kind of person they stop!! I have to employ the Chinese stop sign hand wave to get the point across. What is it about me that says, "I will give money to random people on the street" when that couldn't be farther from the truth?

You know, L once asked for a brochure or a website to get more info and they said they had neither...very suspect. If you had been stopped you would also know there are far more causes represented besides Greenpeace...the Save the Children people are particularly aggressive. I once heard a guy yell at a lady who walked passed him, "Oh, so you don't CARE about the children!?!?!" She looked back and said, "No"

wait, was that you?

Anonymous said...

Honestly, sometimes I don't know whether I love you or hate you. Today, because you said "Peaches," I love you. Also, I loved you yesterday for your post about "If this is what marriage looks like, I might consider it." So, I guess, this week I love you. Next week you'll say something mean about a place that I sometimes hang, and I'll hate you again, but I'll still read you, DAILY, because maybe the next day I'll love you again.

Your writing is exquisite, by the way.

D said...

great post! as always...:) Don't think too much of it...*hugs*

r said...

I usually tell them that I support the DGSE.

fashionista said...

I just started reading your blog a couple weeks ago (linked from dcblogs). Anyway, be grateful that they didn't accost you. While I'm rarely, if ever, bothered in person, somehow my name was put on some list (and now that I think of it, I know exactly how: I traveled with Witness for Peace in 2005 to Cuba), and about every two weeks for the last year, I've received mail from Greenpeace, Save the Children, Amnesty International, UNICEF, organizations against spousal abuse, about saving the trees, etc., etc., ad nauseum.

In theory, I should be happy (?) that they consider me their target audience (I don't know if I actually believe that, though. I think that Tevas are the devil). However, those letters are only taking up valuable space in my mailbox. And then I toss them.

Dave said...

Um... Hello?... They're your target audience. They're fashion nightmares. They don't do their hair. They don't moisturize, and they definitely don't know how to dress. To paraphrase, "having a cause is no excuse." Why can't you save the world and look good doing it? Men are more likely to stop for a hot girl and women will stop for a hot guy. We all have a tendency to avoid those that look like their last shower was three days ago.

You have a mission. You must fulfill it. One fashion victim at a time. If you can just get one girl to wear Pradas, isn't it all worth it?

Note: I have no idea if Prada is still in, but I needed to put something in there.