The chugger

You know that feeling as you walk down the street. You see them from a distance in their matching t-shirts (or rain coats). Gesticulating for your attention. Trying to catch your eye. Jumping out in front of you (so much so yesterday I thought one old man was going to have a heart attack on the spot). You quicken your pace, look away, prepare the ‘I’m sorry, no time’ comment to avoid getting collared.

I’ve employed a few tactics before – ‘I’m sorry I work for charity’, ‘I’m already giving to a few charities’.

Until you see one of them mocking the mum on her phone. Until you realise they are actually scaring a couple of people with their enthusiasm/aggression.

And then I want them to stop me. I try to make eye contact. I want the see how they try and sell it to me.

But most of all as they ask me to sign up “It’s only 3 euro a month – you won’t notice it” I want to ask “and do you give to what you’re asking me to give to?”

I suspect not…

But I’d be happy to be proved wrong.

And it occurs to me that it would perhaps serve that famous charity whose founder walked these streets of Dublin to employ people who already support their work, who believe in their cause. At least then they would ask with credibility. They would communicate with passion and belief . They would demonstrate the values of that famous charity to those they meet.

Instead somehow the chuggers stir up in me the very opposite of charity…




6 thoughts on “The chugger”

  1. They’re just trying to earn a living. It’s an incredibly hard job; being unemployed I both pity them and envy them, and admire their unflagging enthusiasm – quite amazing with one hostile encounter after another. I simply smile, say “No thank you” and walk on. 99% accept that. They’re hardly a public menace!

  2. It is a hard job and they aren’t a public menace. However the two I watched yesterday were aggressive with people and that made me angry as it flew in the face of what the charity stood for. They definately din’t fall into the enthusiastic camp…

  3. I agree, they’re annoying.

    They’re attractive to charities because they provide a very specific, measurable way to get new donors – compared to, say, advertising, which is much harder to budget for as you can’t predict the response for a large outlay.

    As you say, they aren’t employed by the charity themselves; and I’m sure the charity in question would very much appreciate the feedback that the agency they’re employed are giving them a bad name. At least let’s get a better quality of chugger on the street!

  4. I love the fact that I can play the “no, sorry I’m a foreigner” card here 🙂

  5. they take advantage of peoples instinct to stop and be polite to people in the street when approached. it disgusts me (a little bit), because its got to the stage were i barely listen to what people say to me in the street, i just put my hand up and say ‘no thanks’, im sure many are they same. they change us and make us cynical, and make us assume that anyone who is smiling at us or asking a genuine question wants us to give them money.

  6. Sorry; I believe we are responsible for our own cynicism. I think their being annoying (which they certainly can be) only serves to fuel our apathy. That’s not to imply that the chuggers themselves care (although I do know a few Concern people who really do the work out of personal conviction), but it isn’t charity fundraisers that are responsible for any hardness in the public towards the poor. Sure we walk past the homeless all day every day in Dublin, and we always have.

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