Dear Recent College Grad,
Yes, I see you. I do. And yet most days I walk by. You always try to stop me, but thanks to you I've become a master at avoiding your gaze. You keep switching locations on me, but I still spot you a mile away, wearing your bright blue t-shirt, messenger bag, impossible smile and holding your clip board. You are a hard one to miss. Yet I still try to pass by as if I don't see you. But it's getting awkward.
Really all I want to do is to go to lunch or get coffee or catch my train at the end of the day. But you're always there, always with your line of questioning so unfair in its phrasing that you basically make me admit on a daily basis that I hate the environment. Why don't you just ask me to punch a baby seal in the face as I walk by? I imagine it would make me feel just as good.
But I'm done. I'm done letting you make me feel this way. I've had enough of your guilt trips and misleading chatter. I know what you want, and I'm not buying it.
You see one day, a few years ago, I did stop. I stopped out of guilt and talked to you. You and your army was three deep on Michigan Avenue, and I had already passed you by with a half-hearted "sorry" three times that day alone. So when you asked if I loved the environment, I stopped and finally said yes. Because really, how can I say no. No one hates the environment. If anything, people at most are indifferent about the damage they do to it. I've never once seen someone raise up their fists to the heavens and scream "Damn you fresh air!"
I asked you to give me your spiel. And you did. Somewhat convincingly. And honestly, if I hadn't been a broke college student at that moment, I might have committed to giving your cause $10 a month to save the water, save babies, save puppies and stop pollution. But I didn't because at that time I was back in school and buying groceries on my credit card. I didn't have $10 a month to give. Or so I thought. But then you, you did something I didn't see coming. I guess I should have. I've seen the ads for your job. I know how little you are paid. You asked if I ever bought coffee. It's true that being in class for up to eight hours in a day, I did buy the occasional coffee. It was necessary. Well you reasoned that the money I spent on that one small splurge could easily be put toward your charity. I didn't need it as much as that proverbial starving child in Africa. I walked away from our conversation thinking two things: one, I am a horrible person and two, you are one pushy SOB. That was the last time I stopped to talk to you.
I still see you though. I am employed I'm in a different part of the city now. Yet you're still there. On the corner outside my office, outside my favorite lunch stop, across the street from the coffee place I used to like going to. But you've ruined it. Your presence makes my little breaks from work not as enjoyable because I don't want my coffee with a shot of calculated avoidance.
I was learning to negotiate this terrain we both share until today. Today you through me for a new loop. You were standing in the middle of the sidewalk on my way to the train station. As I approached I thought this will just be easier for everyone if you don't talk to me. But you saw me. You zeroed in. You pointed at me and said "Hey, you're friendly, and I bet you care about the environment." Not wanting to affirm or deny your assumption of my character, I answered, while not slowing my stride, "I've got a train to catch." As I breezed passed you said, "but you've got 14 minutes." I continued walking and threw out my half-hearted "sorry" as the closure to our conversation. And then I looked at my watch. It was 5:46. My train was at 6:00. I did have 14 minutes. And how in the love of god did you know that?
You just took it one step too far. Never again will I feel bad about walking past and not even acknowledging you as a person. Because well now you just creep me out. I'm hoping once again I'll be able to navigate my work day with as little interaction with you as possible. I'm hoping that you might get the hint. I'm hoping that you'll sense I am not interested. But mostly, I'm just hoping you go away.
Me (and All Those Who Are Annoyed By Your Tactics)