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Ironic come-backs can save us all

Today I was accosted next to Allen Library by a walking, talking stereotype. Clad in baggy jeans with the boxers peeking out and an enormous hooded sweatshirt, he approached with a cocksure swagger. “Wassup man, you should check this out, yo. We’re askin five bucks.”

I couldn’t read the cover of the CD he was jabbing at me, but it featured a gangster striking a contemplative pose, so I assume it was rap. “Sorry, don’t have five bucks,” I lied absently.

“Aight, tha’s coo. Just keep a listen out for it, it’s gonna be big. Immaculate Flava.” He bounced away to the backbeat pulsing between his ears, while I tried to conceal my giggles. Here’s the thing: the guy was at least as white as I am. But he brings me to an important point: it’s time to call for an end to salesmanship on campus. People in booths who wait to be approached are fine by me; it’s the ones who actively hunt me down in walkways I have a problem with. It doesn’t matter if they’re selling you shitty student music or extremist ideology; just say no. True, some of these people are pushing worthwhile causes, and I want to save whales as much as the next guy, but that doesn’t mean I want to stop and talk to them when I’m on my way to class. If enough people rebuke their wholly unwelcome sales pitches, maybe we can get them to shut up for good.

The trick is to say something completely unexpected, so that they have no idea how to react. For example, a girl near the quad shoved a LaRouche flyer at me and coolly asked “Do you like to think?” I cheerfully waved her away, saying, “No, not so much, thanks,” and kept walking. Nothing in her pamphlet had prepared her for my response; she was completely flabbergasted. “Okaaaaaay…” she said, confusion bleeding into contempt. I’d feel sorry for her, but she started it.

Let’s try another one. You’re walking past the bookstore when a gorgeous young woman in a green rain suit smiles at you. You smile back, and she waves a yellow paper at you and says, “How do you feel about the fact that you support the destruction of the rainforests and the extinction of a thousand species a day?” You’re late for work. You say:

A) “Oh, those poor species! I’ll just make this check out to ‘cash,’ if that’s alright?”

B) “Pretty good, I guess. Only a thousand a day? That seems kind of low.”

C) “That all depends. How do you feel about the fact that you exploit your good looks to trick guys like myself into temporary support of a cause for which we’d normally give two shits?”

D) “Your hair smells pretty, like that nice lady at Safeway.”

If you chose B or C, you’re doing just fine. If you chose A, I applaud your compassion, but I’d say it’s time to re-evaluate how much you really do care about those thousand species. Be aware that very few of them are cuddly; most are terrifying insects and bacteria that would much rather kill you than snuggle lovingly against your cheek. And if you chose D, I’d recommend either therapy or alcoholism, which ever turns out to be cheaper.

Posted in Musings.

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