16. The Corner Clipboard Activist

I have a theory. Somewhere inside an unmarked warehouse in ghetto Shanghai, there’s a machine that is mass producing android replicas of hip 20-30something young adults to go stand on the sidewalks of urban America and harass its pedestrians. If anyone wants to know where all of the donation money to various environmental and civil rights charities has gone over the years, I may have solved your mystery.

Any trip downtown guarantees an encounter with at least one of them. For some reason, they’re drawn to me. Perhaps they assume that anyone with facial hair is a brother in arms. Perhaps they’re secretly sent from an Illuminati-style group whose mission statement is to subtly manipulate the world into inconveniencing me. Your guess is as good as mine.

Being downtown can be a miserable experience. It’s usually crowded, overheated, smelly, and the air is thick with human chatter and screaming children. Whenever I’m downtown, I become a Terminator. My objective is singular and nothing will get in my way. If I could laser beam my way to H&M, I would. Sadly, I am a mere human and must suffer these blue-shirt-wearing-clipboard-brandshing-holier-than-thou-automatons when they spot me. In the future, I will wear a pair of fuzzy earmuffs and a plain white t-shirt that reads “I AM DEAF”.

Their tactics are torn straight from KGB Groupthink exercises. “Excuse me!” they exclaim, “do you have a few minutes to support gay rights/climate change/the extinction of the Northwestern Fur Bearing Trout?” Now that I’m on the spot, I’m left with several choices. One of them is to say “yes”. This is the easiest but most time consuming solution. By the time they are finished, I will know absolutely everything about the destruction of mango trees in Peru and will have ruined a pair of jeans after drenching them in overflowing groin sweat.

Another method is to say “No, thank you” and immediately drop eye contact and speed walk before they can engage me in dialogue. A better response, of course, is to reply that you are late to a very important Klan rally/Monster Truck show/Bunny Clubbing session and can’t spare the time. This should only be attempted with no other pedestrians around and possibly a hidden camera.

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