9.10:14 Clipboard People

One of the drawbacks to living in Portland, Oregon--and I've never experienced this living elsewhere--is you will be preparing dinner, or enjoying or have enjoyed same and the doorbell will ring. You go to the door and standing there is a person with a clipboard.

Of late, I've taken to saying, upon sight of that clipboard, "Sorry, I'm not interested," and try to politely send them on their way. Yes, I'm treating them as spam in human form, but talking with these people makes no more sense than answering those emails from Nigeria.


I suppose these clipboard people--CBPs--who refer to themselves as "activists," might have at one time been inspired by Nader's Raiders from the 70s who did the spadework for consumer reform, among other causes, normal government channels weren't addressing.

But I've decided talking to CBPs now is an utter waste of time. For one thing, any interaction is strongly asymmetrical, not a conversation. They have a script, "facts" for their pet cause, and an action agenda. To wit, CBP says, I'm out tonight to talk to people about the proposed coal export traffic on the Columbia River that will release XXXX tons of coal dust into the air over Portland.

If I were say, Thanks for coming by, I'll write to my congressman and get his opinion--I'll get a scripted response along the lines, Do you want to wait, do you want thousands of children in our community coming down with asthma?

I don't know the source of this information, if it's true, but in any case, CBP won't take any "I've got to think this over."

CBP has that clipboard. CBP only wants a mere signature on that clipboard to show I OPPOSE BAD THINGS HAPPENING. And if I sign CBP's clipboard, CBP also needs my printed name and address, so it can be shown to be part of a valid petition. And by the way, with CBP's pen in my hand, CBP says, Would you be willing to support us financially? Any amount. Five dollars, whatever you can afford. We're in a tough fight with Corporate Coal.

What CBP does not tell me, of course, is that they're paid for each signature they collect and it's not simply a petition. It's a way soliciting more money later (a phone number and email address are often requested). It doesn't take me long to figure out CBP is a foot soldier for lobbyists.

Lobbyists, who might be more than a NIMBY coal export "issue." Who knows where those petitions go? As I say human spam and an intentionally timed annoyance at dinner time.

Fortunately, CBPs are easy to spot.

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The Cat at Light's End

Read Charlie Dickinson's story collection, The Cat at Light's End, as an ebook in these downloadable formats:

.mobi (Kindle)
.epub (most other readers)
.pdf (for PCs)

Also, a flash fiction, "Ylena Thinks Nyet," is at Cigale Literary Magazine.

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