Tuesday, November 20

Advice from an expert: how to avoid Bruin Walk solicitors


Advice from an expert: how to avoid Bruin Walk solicitors

George Tsai

Obstacles and obstructions. Everywhere you go around this
campus, things get in the way of a happy, casual life. The pounding
of the jackhammer at Royce. The roaring of the bulldozer in front
of Ackerman. The long lines of Taco Hell and Murphy Hall. Now, more
things have been slowing you down. Not only are fences and 4x8s
detouring your route of yesterday, ASUCLA thinks you guys actually
need and desire a kazillion more publication kiosks to clog up your
pathway.

But, before I ramble on and complain about fewer parking spaces
and no bike paths, I should bring up one other obstacle. It has
been present on this campus for decades and has subtly eaten away
at much of your leisure time in your stay here. It was probably
here before this construction started, if there ever was such a
time. It probably won’t ease up after this construction ends, if
there will ever be such a time. It is a major cause of congestion
as well as a result of it. Since I don’t want to keep my faithful
Viewpoint readers in suspense too long, and since I need to get to
the point before some English TA goes crazy because there’s no main
point to this paragraph, and since I’m tired of using the word "it"
too many times to begin my sentences, and since this is a run-on
sentence, I’ll name the culprit. Bruin Walk solicitors.

I’ve been a solicitor as well as a victim. I know how it feels
to be on both sides of this problem. I hate solicitors, and I hate
that we hate solicitors. Over the years I’ve been here, too many of
them have caused banners, fliers and roaming clipboards to become
quite ineffective. With so many out there, solicitors have to go to
extremes to attract attention.

Personally, I’ve had to do some pretty strange things to
distract folks on this infamous pedestrian pathway. My lemonade
stand during last spring’s campaign served hundreds of thirsty
Bruins who didn’t want to fork over a buck to ASUCLA for a drink.
Several weeks later, students were able to dump their trash all
over me for a couple of hours until the UCPD arrived and made me
leave.

If you think that’s different, though, you should see the
creative methods pedestrians use to avoid solicitors. I’ve noticed
many different things people do over my four years here that I find
necessary to bring out into the open. These observations serve two
purposes. They work as a helpful guide to solicitors wondering who
the most vulnerable consumer is. And, for those of you who want to
know what it takes to dodge those religious freaks, read the
suggestions in bold print. My ultimate goal, though, is to make
Bruin Walk a happy environment that’s fun and exciting for all.

Avoid eye contact at all costs. This golden rule has been
followed by many students who notice solicitors scoping the
surroundings to target their next victims. This usually happens in
front of Kerckhoff Hall, where students will immediately focus
their attention on the closest inanimate object. Yep, that’s right:
the 99 cent seven-layer burrito sign. When someone is looking at
this advertisement, it’s obvious that this person would rather
stare at an old sheet of metal they’ve already seen for months than
at you. Attention-getting probability: 15 percent.

"Today’s Daily Bruin is the most intriguing newspaper I’ve ever
come across." With all these readers complaining about how boring
and how unentertaining this publication is, it’s hard to believe
that one-third of the campus population walking to class is
extremely interested in what it has to say. When this tactic is
used, it is difficult to predict how the so-called reader will
react to your greetings. Two questions you should ask yourself: how
far has the pedestrian shoved the newspaper into his or her face
and which section of the newspaper is the student reading?

If ink smudges are apparent on the person’s nose or forehead, or
if the head is dug deep into the Arts & Entertainment section,
you will be fighting a hopeless cause of trying to attract
attention. The section of the newspaper matters, too. Viewpoint,
back-page sports, or Letterman’s Top 10: no chance. Classifieds or
news articles past Page 9: go for it.

Pretend that you just saw your best friend and greet him/her as
if you haven’t seen this person in ages. Once the dreaded eye
contact has taken place, people will look around desperately to
find ANYBODY they know, yell the person’s name out with great
emotion, and chat with this supposed long-lost friend. Doing this
gives them a reason to avoid you. Be skeptical. Try to find
peculiarities in the facial expression. See if this person’s face
seems to be silently saying, "Wow, I’m shocked to have
acquaintances greet me this enthusiastically. I must be popular.
These Stuart Smalley inspirational audio tapes sure are a great
help." Does this person appear to be a social loser? If so, you’ve
targeted a liar. Depending on what you’re soliciting for, you may
or may not want to pursue this dishonest fake.

Stare at your feet as if you are shy or as if you’ve stepped in
dog dookie in the past and will never let it happen again. The less
aggressive solicitor will let these people pass by, but the true
salesperson will target them immediately. Of course, you either
have to be extremely nice or say something extremely clever. Sort
of like picking up singles at a bar. Tough job, but you can do
it!

Don’t be a pedestrian! Risk getting a citation while speeding
around campus on a bike. Ouch, this one hurts. These people are
concentrating too hard on balancing that any flier or pause will
cause them to topple over and evoke their angry side. They have the
power to put tread marks on you. No luck here, but if you want
revenge, yell and holler for a bicycle cop.

Many other methods are used, but most have become all too
common: Complete Deafness Method, "I’m in a hurry" lie (as if UCLA
students are that eager to attend lectures), headphones, reflective
sunglasses and T.A. attitudes (Total Asshole). The effectiveness of
my suggestions for you pedestrians depends on your ability to act,
so pick a strategy and test your performance skills. With a little
creativity from both sides, Bruin Walk will soon be something
everybody can look forward to!

Tsai is a fifth-year senior majoring in insect pornography.

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