I am too cheap to buy a Charlie Card or monthly LinkPass. This means that instead of taking a nice train or bus to class, I have to walk. Therefore, I have to weave around slow freshmen talking about their weekends on Ashford Street, dodge the occasional focused jogger in a jumpsuit and freak out when a flock of pigeons flies by me and toward one of those maniacs who spread crumbs along the sidewalk.
The one thing I don’t deserve to have to deal with every morning of my life – which coincidentally is also the one thing I wouldn’t even wish on my worst enemy – is what I like to call ‘Sidewalk Solicitors’ or ‘SiSos.’ Everyone knows the kind of people I am talking about because he or she passes these persistent hippies every day on Commonwealth Avenue.
Perhaps ‘hippie’ is a radical term for these issue-conscious people. In fact, it is a contradictory term for the first group of SiSos I pass by every weekday and even on some beautiful weekend mornings. This group is the most conservative species of SiSos you’ll ever meet. They are the anti-Planned Parenthood religious crazies. They have one old woman strategically placed far ahead of the rest of them who informs you that ‘Jesus loves you’ as you pass her by. After she butters you up a little, you get the leader and his backup singers belting out their favorite verse from the old tune, ‘You Were a Fetus Once Too.’ The less attention you pay them, the louder they sing. I normally just break into a sprint so I don’t have to listen to their second-favorite tune, ‘Pro-choice is No Choice.’
I have a while to catch my breath after I pass Planned Parenthood. But once I cross the Boston University Bridge I must run through the SiSo gauntlet. Here, it seems that the anti-Planned Parenthood religious crazies’ crusade to protect fetuses is succeeding, because now I am bothered by people campaigning for children’s rights. Actually, I don’t know what they are soliciting; I just know that they always ask me, ‘You don’t want little kids to die do you?’ They stare at me longingly, but I just say no and walk away hoping Captain Hook hasn’t captured the Lost Boys.
The gauntlet continues with the most recognizable SiSos on the planet – which they work so hard to save: the Greenpeace solicitors. I am thankful that they wear those distinctive green jackets, because they make themselves easier to dodge. They may look like passive cannabis dealers, but they’ll get you if you come too close. Their favorite way to guilt trip you is by saying things like: ‘How much oxygen have you had today?’ or ‘Did you know we are all going to die soon because of carbon dioxide emissions?’
At this point, it would appear that I don’t care much about abortion, saving little kids who are about to be murdered by Captain Hook or whether the world will soon cease to exist because of the Saturn I drive back in Chicago. To be honest, I really don’t care about any of those things that early in the morning – no one does. So after surviving that many SiSos it is justifiable that the poor kid who can’t afford to take the T to campus would be pretty hostile toward the next group of solicitors.
This hostility becomes a problem though, because the next species of SiSos are completely unlike the other three. They are the one and only group that hands out free, useful things. But at this point, I am blinded by my own rage. Instead of smiling back at the cute girl handing out free gum, I flip her off and mutter obscenities under my breath. On days that I have not gotten much sleep, I will occasionally cover my ears, sing ‘Lalalalala’ and walk by free drinks without noticing. At some point, I’ll need to learn how to control my rage and use these kind SiSos to my advantage.
Until then, I must begin campaigning against people campaigning on my route to campus. It is time to reduce the number of Sidewalk Solicitors on Commonwealth Avenue and, if the movement gains enough momentum, perhaps around the world. I’ll need posters, pamphlets, t-shirts, key chains and maybe even free gum and drinks. I hear most sane people like free handouts. The only question is where to begin my movement. I think I know the perfect place. If you’d like to sign up for my awesome cause, I will be recruiting on Commonwealth Avenue. Make sure to stop by.