Running the Gauntlet

I came back to the office after my lunch break the other day not feeling refreshed, revitalised and ready to get back to work for the afternoon.  Instead I was in a foul mood from dodging chuggers!

I had stupidly decided to wander back to the office along Princes Street (Edinburgh) which has turned into a complete chugger fest!  (For international readers – chuggers are “charity muggers” – they are employed by charities to ‘encourage’ people to make donations).

These people have always annoyed me – mostly because of their impossibly cheery nature and the way they dance around in front of you to get your attention – by the way, I’m not making eye contact for a reason, waving around and doing a stupid dance is not going to make me change my mind! 

I hate chuggers!

This photo is a perfect example – this chugger is clearly blocking the man’s path and holding out his hand to stop him in his tracks!

What I didn’t realise until fairly recently is that these people aren’t volunteers – they are paid to do this!!! (This may not apply to all charities but certainly the majority do pay their chuggers).  I used to politely say “no thank you” and keep walking, however this was often met with further pleadings for me to stop for “just one minute” or insulting comments such as “don’t you care about animals?!” 

On one occasion I was on my way home from a very busy/stressful day at work and the last thing I wanted to do was chat to an irritatingly self-righteous chugger.  I was only 2 minutes from home (annoyingly the chuggers had spread to Morningside Road which is some 20 minutes from Princes Street) when a chugger from a very well-known charity asked me to stop.  I replied to the effect “I’m sorry I just want to get home” and kept walking which was met with “well these children don’t have homes!”…

What a horrible thing to say to someone you don’t know!  I was so angry but I just kept walking – it’s a moment I often look back on and think “I should have said this or done that (or punched him!)” but it’s too late.  I wish I had told him about the fundraising I’d recently done – I’d held a fundraiser through work which raised a decent amount.  This guy didn’t know me, and for all he knew I could have already been donating to his charity.  I used to donate £18 a month to a charity but it was a bit much when I was on the lower end of the pay scale so I cancelled after a couple of years. 

I keep meaning to sign up for another charity now that I’m earning a bit more, but this is my point – why do I need to justify myself to some random guy on the street?  Why should any of us need to justify ourselves when it comes to charity donations.  It is a choice!  There are so many worthwhile charities, but we each have our preferred cause and if we don’t have a lot of spare cash then donating to charity is going to be much further down our list of priorities than usual.  In addition, why should I justify myself to someone who is trying to make me feel guilty when they are actually taking money from the charity to stand there??  Apparently it can take up to a year for the charity to recoup the money spent on paying a chugger.  I recently read an interview with a chugger who stated that he was paid over £10 an hour! 

Just remember this the next time someone tries to guilt trip you into donating to their charity.  If you want to donate to a charity then great, go for it!  But I would suggest researching the charity online and donating through their website instead of handing your details over to some overpaid chugger whose sole purpose in life is to annoy people in the street.

I’d love to hear your comments and personal experiences with chuggers – good or bad.  If you are a chugger and think I’ve been unfair in any way then let me know –  I’d be interested to hear the other side of the story.

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3 thoughts on “Running the Gauntlet

  1. Haha, I had no idea what you were talking about at first, but I’m definitely going to get “Chugger” grafted into American English. I’m in the Mid-west, where there’s less foot traffic. Here, usually, they stand at all corners of an intersection. They’re not allowed to actually block traffic, but they do impede it quite a bit.
    Sometimes they come right up to the car and knock on windows and stand there next to your car, which means you can get going till they back off. Drives me nuts.

  2. I’ve never heard the term “chuggers” in this context, either! But yeah, there are people like this all over Chicago. My tactic is to just ignore them. Sometimes they get riled up and say, “I know you can see me!” but I just keep walking.

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