I work in Farringdon where the plethora of diamond and jewellery stores ooze an air of wealth out into Chancery Lane. As such, the place is festooned with charity muggers. It’s a hard job, somewhat worthy and I know I’d never be able to do it. But I’m here every day, and have to deal with the constant guilt trip vortex they create. They’ll even come for you when you’ve got your headphones in these days…heartless bastards. If you, like me, don’t want to have to cross the road to avoid an awkward conversation about how you’re-a-good-person-really-but you’re-just-in-a-hurry*, here’s a few of well-worn tactics you can try out.
The Phantom Phone Call
They’ve seen you. You. You’re weak, they can smell it and they’re closing in. But, lo! Saved by the bell. Sling the phone to the ear, nod and say “Oh God, that’s awful…how long has she got?” The aggressors will fall away like autumn leaves.
Timing is key to not looking fake here, so if you’d rather not run the risk, pretend to dial a number yourself a few paces out of the Chugger’s radius and imply a fraught conversation with an aggreived lover. The more personal, the better.
If you see a person heading vaguely in the same direction as you, towards the furnace of charity shame, drop a few steps outside them and follow them in, letting the poor bastard take the heat. Gradually peel away with proximity just in case the candidate gives a quick brush off and you’re targetted as a follow up.
Begging the Beggar
Depending on the experience level of the chugger, this can either be gold or lead to a ruinous backfire. As soon as they start into their story, interrupt them with a sad tale of your own, how you’re barely surviving yourself. A lot of chuggers are students, and will understand where you’re coming from. These lot will let you off the hook with a sympathetic nod. The older ones are wise to this gambit and will let you know how, as hard as times may be, you’re still in the 1% worldwide and everyone can afford a little. If you find yourself in this mire, it’s best to get on with a good old fashioned hastening of the step, and a sad shake of the head. Take the follow up debate at your own risk – nothing will make you feel more like a shit heel than trying to argue that you’ve got it worse than a Sub Saharan orphan, while Maximo Park is blaring out of your shiny iPhone.
That was probably the most cynical thing I’ve written yet. I’m truly a man today.
* I give monies to Centre Point every month…now leave me alone.