Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Would you like to talk to a Chugger, Sir ?

The answer to this question was "no" !

"Chuggers" or Charity Muggers to give them their full title are those superficial bubblingly good natured young people who stand on British High Streets asking passers-by if they've got a minute or "could I talk to you for 30 seconds?" or loaded questions like "do you want to help beat cancer?".
The charities concerned are rarely objectionable in themselves, in fact usually the opposite. However the manufactured bonhomie, the loaded questions designed to play on guilt and the embarrassing attempts to use flirting to get compliance all wear thin after a while.So much so that these "charity canvassers" have earned the title "Chuggers".

In London the vast majority of people are just a little too world weary and cynical to be effected by a question like "Do you want to make a difference ?". Everyone knows it will end with an attempt to get your bank account details.
It's not that we're anti-charity but going down the street in a busy city we resent the attempt to intrude into our time and schedule and being made to feel like a Meany for not going along with it.

I used to attract Chuggers like flies. Maybe it was my easy going approachable face :-) However a few years of working in London have put a "don't talk to me" message in my eyes and I rarely get stopped. This morning I was congratulating myself on my grim faced resistance to Chuggers as a lady got stopped with the flirty entree from a pony-tailed male tennis coach type "hey lady in red! ". "There goes another mug" I thought as she stopped, only to be approached myself with the counter-cynical ironic approach "Would you like to talk to a Chugger, Sir ?"

This was humour effectively deployed. I didn't stop but I appreciated the fresh approach. We all have limited time (and money) and few of us care to make decisions regarding donations (particularly long term regular donations) in the middle of a High Street. Least of all do we want moral lecturing on what we should be doing with our money from a paid collector who is on commission for the number of people they sign up.

Sorry if this sounds a bit world weary ! However Chuggers are one of my pet complaints in London. I am pleased if they themselves are beginning to realise their often counter-productive effect.


James said...

Yes, aren't they awful?

I tend to navigate my way along the pavement walking behind their backs, though sometimes this can provoke even more attention.

And I certainly never stop if they go for the emotional overkill of (actual example) 'Do you want to help get a kid off heroin?'.

Oh, and the dreaded Red Nose Day is coming up.

Luis said...

Yes, bah humbug :-)
I would find them slightly better if they weren't so superficially "bubbly".

We have an "office quiz" for Red Nose Day.

I actually saw a rerun of "The Office" yesterday. The one where Gareth organises the quiz. David Brent is in a team with Finchey and they are extremely bad loosers.

David Brent answers a question on who is the revolutionary leader and still president of Cuba with "Fray Bentos" !!

I am hoping we slightly exceed these standards this week.