Wednesday, July 16, 2008

in which the joke is on me

Note: I normally shy away from discussing politics of any sort at any time, but I have decided to share the following anecdote because it highlights my particular brand of spinelessness and is not a dig at anyone else's voting preferences. It's a free country, and I am happy that people can actually vote. 

During lunch, I usually walk to the library and to get there, I pass through a very lovely plaza next to the downtown bus tunnel entrance. On a beautiful day like today, the plaza is packed with people from the local businesses enjoying their lunch in the fresh air. Because it's so well populated and strategically located, the plaza is also a hotspot for any sort of person whose job it is to engage random passersby to sign petitions, donate money to a charity or some other organization, what have you.

The scene: one plump transportation engineer, walking briskly through the plaza carrying a bag full of books. She must walk quickly because she only gets 30 minutes for lunch and it's almost a mile to the library. She notices a well-groomed young man, wearing a DNC T-shirt and carrying a large signature board which looks an awful lot like a petition. He is right in her way, and there is no way to avoid him unless someone else walks in front of her, but a quick glance around confirms that all the other people in her immediate vicinity are sitting down in various locales eating their lunches. Selfish bastards.

Because our protagonist has lived in the Pacific Northwest for her entire adult life, she has adopted the particular local custom known variously as "extreme politeness" or "passive-aggressiveness". Refusing something flat out is just not polite, and our protagonist just doesn't have the time to go through the elaborate ritual of mournful, faux sincerity. ("Oh, I'm sorry but I'm just not interested" with a sad expression on your face which conveys that you are just as sad not to be interested in whatever the other person is so clearly interested in as you are to actually refuse.) 

So our protagonist mentally rehearses her arsenal of stock excuses so that the proper one would be at hand. She approaches. Well groomed young man in DNC shirt makes eye contact. Smiles.

DNC guy: "Excuse me. Are you interested in supporting Barack Obama?"

None of her oft-used excuses will quite fit this situation.
"I'm not a registered voter." Lie.
"I'm not actually a citizen." Lie.
"I've already signed that petition." Usually a lie, but sometimes true.

Keep in mind that our protagonist has always voted Democratic and will be voting for Barack Obama in the upcoming presidential election, and has given money to the DNC on more than one occasion. 

So what popped out of our spineless protagonist's mouth instead of just saying "not interested" or "don't bother me" or even "can't talk because I'm in a hurry"?

"I vote Republican."

1 comment:

Jo at Celtic Memory Yarns said...

As another who habitually can't think of the perfect avoidance technique, I would proffer my current solution: a brilliant smile and a 'Thank you so much' as you swiftly pass by. It confuses them just long enough for you to duck into a doorway.