greenpeace_outdoor.jpgPretty much the first thing you learn when you move to, or even visit San Francisco is that there are a lot of things on the sidewalk that you wish weren’t there. There are the pigeons, which if you look closely will present almost infinite opportunities for disgust. There is the garbage mixed with human and animal excrement, and then there are the people who want you to sign up for Greenpeace.

They are often the last hurdle on your way to the office door, and because they are the last they are typically the hardest to get over. They always come in pairs and will stand 20 feet apart – backs to each other, clipboards at the ready – as though they were about to take part in a duel, and they are, but it’s not with each other.

If Greenpeace spent as much on the rainforest as it does on its sign-up volunteers’ Green Beret training, they might be getting somewhere. This is, of course, a horrible cynical view, but that’s the kind of view engendered by encounters with these clipboarders.

The most important thing to remember is while the eyes may be the windows to the soul, that soul might be crazy.

Never make eye contact with one of these faux-nonchalant, woven bracelet wearing youngsters, because the moment you do they will lock onto you like you’re a petting animal in a cougar zoo, and even if you then try to look away or employ the “heavy thoughts” face or the “where is my phone?” bag shuffle they will continue to follow you, their environmental eyes boring whale-shaped holes through your Marc by Marc by Marc by Marc for Walgreens sunglasses, and eventually unless you are very strong or very interested in your iPod, you will look up, and they will say, with this shit-eating grin on their face like you just admitted your plans to drink a bottle of seal tears, “Hello, how are you today?”

Before even waiting to hear how you are (Not good. Getting worse) they will ask you some completely personal question like, “Do you have a minute for the Earth?” and then they will smile, because in your hesitation at what must be the most obvious answer of all (there are only two options. One is definitely wrong), they see a part of your carefully constructed version of things falling apart. You had built your own world on Earth, and it had nothing to do with anything.

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  • Xenu

    Oh god, you’ve hit the nail on the head here. Greenpeace is worse than PETA and the Mormons combined.

    But the attractive young women volunteers seem to be very effective at targeting lonely men. I wonder where all that money goes, anyway? Some rich CEO’s pocket?

  • Greg Dewar

    They swarm Irving and 9th all the time. I usually just say “Cant sign, I’m a felon” and walk on.

  • Kathleen

    SO right on. A few weeks ago I didn’t see one coming and got hooked. I tried to end the conversation multiple times but he followed me for like 5 minutes. Worst.

    Greenpeace has ruined me for anyone walking around with a legitimate petition. Whenever I see anyone with a clipboard, I duck, cover and run.

  • Wil

    I, for one, would like to see the rules against “aggressive following” enforced for these types.

    Double fine if it’s near a bus stop!

  • Erik

    The ACLU people are similar with their memorized speeches that are 80% buzzwords that have been selected especially to panic the NPR crowd.

  • Katie Baker

    Once a Greenpeace dude walked with me FROM SECOND TO FIFTH AND MARKET as I walked back to work from lunch. When he started describing their viral videos I said (genuinely), “hey, those sound cool, it’s weird because I am always on the Internet and have never heard or seen them.” He got REALLY offended and stopped following me. So, when trying to get rid of a Greenpeacer, just insult their social media techniques.

  • cv

    Just say “I don’t live around here” and keep moving. Do not offer any further explanation. It always throws the signature collectors for a loop. They really don’t know how to respond to that. Do not engage these people in a conversation. They’ve partially won if you direct your attention to them.

    The other alternative is to mumble something that sounds like it’s a foreign language but isn’t (i.e., don’t speak in a real foreign language). Look them directly in the eye and spout out some random guttural sounds. Don’t try speaking in Mandarin, Danish, or Swahili. They might actually know those languages. Just fake it.

    If you’re at home, just say you’re eating. It doesn’t matter which time it is. Don’t open the door, don’t promise to listen to them another day. Just leave it at, “I’m eating. Come back another day.” They won’t.

  • dantsea

    I usually say, in very clear English: “I’m sorry, I don’t speak Spanish.” One of two things will happen: They’ll say “oh,” and look away because they have no idea what the hell just happened, or they’ll start the pitch at me in Spanish for a few seconds before their brain buffer catches up with them… at which point they say “oh” and look away.

  • James Home

    that fifth paragraph is a masterpiece.

  • Xenu

    Thanks to this post, I had a dream last night where Greenpeace was outside my office. I printed up an essay on why Greenpeace is a scam and stood next to them and handed it out to people who passed by.

  • Calilorna

    @everybody…got a minute for the planet? (smile) i’m curious, would most of you be less hostile to the green peace posse, if they had dogs with em. What if they changed the name to “DOGPEACE” i’m just saying….Seriously, those folks at the frontline are there because they have passion for OUR 1 little planet. The one little planet who is having problems keeping up with our wastefull demands. Next time you have a unwanted encounter, simply smile and say very firmly: “Thanks for your efforts, but NO im not interested, i’m NOT signing anything, and i’m done with this conversation PERIOD.” take a sip of your grande cup of Crackbucks coffee and keep it movin. Trust me it works. I use this technique in NYC with great results.

  • Calilorna

    marc by marc by marc, by walgreens……heelarious….Drink a glass of Seal tears…LMAO….

  • Calilorna

    k, last comment. Did anyone notice the Greenpeace ad on this page? nice touch.