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Wide World of Pranks: Public Places

How to Deal with Signature Gatherers

Every year about this time people who want you to sign a petition come out of whatever dark hole they live in and come out in public to constantly annoy you.

I live in Washington State that has a healthy petition system which allows voters to take initiatives they support, get enough signatures and put it on a ballot to be voted on in November. This is a really powerful tool which allows the people to pass laws they want, regardless of inaction by elected officials.

The drawback to this process is that people who collect signatures are often paid to collect those signatures. This means that the person is not pushing an initiative because it is a just cause, they do it because it's a paycheck. So you never know if the initiative they want you to sign is actually going to do more harm than good unless you read up on it fully. Of course, the person collecting signatures doesn't want you to read what you are signing, that slows them down and they make less money.

Several years ago, Nic Warmenhoven, a funny guy and a friend of mine went to a festival with bogus petitions to ban people from gathering signatures on petitions. People were thrilled to sign it because everyone finds these people to be annoying.

As much as I hate the people, I love the process. I want the citizens initiative to be legal, but I also know that a lot of these people are just hucksters pitching a product like it was the state fair or something. I don't want to confront them, I don't want to give them a reason why I do not want to sign their petition, I don't wish to have a discussion anymore than I want to buy a stolen stereo from a guy on the street corner. So instead of attempting to ban these people, I have found another way to not only get out of talking to them, but to have fun with it as well.

The next time you are walking along and a signature gatherer comes up and asks you if you are a registered voter, say yes. They will immediately launch into their spiel about giving Bush a third term or impeaching him or something like that and you just keep walking.

Thats it.

Lets practice this once shall we?

You're walking along and a woman with a crazed look in her eye and a petition on her hand walks up to you and says, "Are you a registered voter?"

You respond with "Yes", then you tune her out.

She launches into her spiel about "blabiddy blah blah, bloop blopp bladdiddy blady, blah" and you keep walking.

Thats it.

What this does is immediately reclaim your position of authority. You don't need to ignore them, by doing that you are being rude and you are in essence being subservient to them because you are letting them control your actions. Just be nice, answer the question and keep walking and enjoy the smile that magically appears on your face.


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