An Open Letter to Shitty Canvassers

Dear Childfund International Canvassers,

Let me begin by saying that you probably believe in your cause. You may not have met the children that you’re fundraising for, but I’m sure that you are well aware of the squalid conditions in which they live. Believe me, I know what that’s like (being passionate about your cause, not living in squalor. I grew up middle class). I’m about as big of a pinko liberal commie tree-hugger as you’re likely to meet, and in fact, I even canvassed myself for the ACLU a few years back. Even though I was working in the general area of one of the most liberal universities in the world (my alma mater, which I won’t name but is easily guessed), I still met people who didn’t like my organization. Some would tell me that they were sympathetic to my cause, but couldn’t help me today. And others just didn’t like talking to canvassers. Canvassing is the fine art of knowing just how far you can push someone. If they say “I dunno”, you keep pressing them. If they say “Fuck off”, you fuck off. After hours on the job without getting a single contribution, you start to get down on yourself. I’ve been there. It’s no fun. And you have to face your manager at the end of the night, who will be encouraging even if you are no good at your job.

But none of that excuses the treatment I’ve been getting from you guys lately. You don’t spread yourselves out properly; you cluster together so that I will tell one of you I’m not interested, walk a block, then tell another I’m not interested. You guilt-trip people. I told one that I wasn’t helping him today, to which he responded, “I don’t need help. The children do!” I halted. “Oh, you get it now!” he said, as if he were dropping a hot mike at my feet. Actually, jackass, it’s you who doesn’t get it. You ever hear the expression, “No means no”? It’s usually a slogan for rape prevention, but it actually applies here (and if you think comparing a guilt-trip to rape is inappropriate, you have obviously never been guilt-tripped or raped). I am not a bad person just for refusing to give you money. In fact, I gave money to Planned Parenthood just a few weeks ago. I like Planned Parenthood, but more importantly, I liked the canvasser. She was polite, confident, and handed me her clipboard like a pro (a move that any good canvasser rehearses like a circus trick). So I gave her money. It was that simple.

It’s hard for me to put into words just how stressful canvassing can be. A former coworker of mine told me this story: He knocked on the door and greeted the man who opened it, who promptly slammed the door so hard that the house shook. As my coworker went around the rest of the cul-de-sac, the man came out of his house to glare at my coworker. He accused my coworker of being a thief and, when my coworker wished him a good day, he responded, “If you get run over, it will be a better day.” What was that man doing when my coworker knocked? I picture him staring at the wall and foaming at the mouth. Literally anything is more productive than that: smelling your own farts, watching Jerry Springer, killing puppies and making a necklace out of their skulls, anything. Canvassing, you see, isn’t really about money. It’s about spreading love. If somebody walks away from their encounter with you angry, you have failed at your job (unless they were angry to begin with, and since I’m always angry, I don’t count).

I’m not being dramatic in calling the night I made staff for my canvassing organization one of the defining moments of my life. After four hours-plus of knocking on doors with almost no luck and no bathroom breaks, I made $146 on the last two houses of the night, which was more than enough to make quota. You should have seen my face. “You must have misheard me,” I wanted to say. “I asked you for money. You’re supposed to laugh at me, then close the door. What are you doing with that checkbook?” It was a secular miracle, if such a thing is possible. I tripped and fell into a ditch, and when I stood up, I had $146.

It is impossible to reason with someone who is convinced that you “just don’t get it”. I’ve heard all the statistics about how poor Ndugu eats only one meal every six months and has to spit-shine iPads in a sweatshop for 30 hours a day to survive. Why do you need my money so badly? If you think the point is to help some poor girl or boy go to school, then fly them out here, stick them on the street corner, and let them fundraise. I have debts to pay off. Nobody begged for money for my education. I moved from California to New York, took out a fuckton of loans, and now I’m trying to find work in my field while simultaneously scraping together enough cash to pay off these fucking debts. It’s a lot to handle, and I don’t accept that Ndugu’s problems are necessarily more important than my own. Besides, I was on my way to the library to pick up my reserved copy of All-Star Superman. In the grand scheme of things, I’m more concerned with Superman than Ndugu. Supes needs someone to believe in him. Ndugu needs to believe in himself first. The rest is history.

In conclusion, you fucking suck at your jobs, and anyone who wants to donate to Planned Parenthood can do so here.


The Robot King



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