No! Get away! Die, solicitor scum, die!

by Lisa Chmiola

I was reading the letters to the editor last week, looking for a response to one of my columns. One letter about petitioners on campus caught my eye.

It's pretty bad when I walk to class and not only have to avoid squirrels and Cushmans, but now I must beware of vultures as well.

My first encounter with the perpetrators occurred about a month ago. A friend and I were walking to class when we were approached by someone with a clipboard.

"Are you registered Texas voters?" he asked.

"Yes," we replied, assuming he was going to try and get us to register. Instead, he started a spiel of how someone was trying to get rid of the free lunch program in schools and how we should sign this petition and so on.

Not wanting to sign without reading the fine print, we told the guy we had a test to take and had to get going.

That time I was telling the truth. However, I decided the next time I came across one of these vultures, I'd tell a little white lie and say I wasn't from Texas. Actually, I was born in Niagara Falls, so it wouldn't be a total lie.

Two weeks later, I came across the same guy and I was prepared to do battle.

"Are you a registered Texas voter?"

"No," I said.

"Why not?"

"I'm not from Texas."

This wasn't good enough for him.

"So where are you from?"

"South Dakota." (OK, so I've never been to the state. But I saw big snowstorms up there on TV, and a friend gave me a geography lesson on the state.)

The vulture proceeded to ask how I liked the weather and why I came to Houston. I told him that it's much better than it was at home right now and that I wanted to get as far away from home as possible. Then, he finally left me alone.

OK, so my performance was convincing, but it's ridiculous to have to act in order to get people to leave you alone. And it still didn't totally work, as the guy wanted to be sure I wasn't lying.

How do these people get on campus to solicit? It's bad enough they bother us in malls and go door to door, but it's really annoying to find them on campus.

These people aren't affiliated with campus organizations, which have to follow many regulations in order to solicit or even advertise an event. Why are we so lax on people who aren't part of our community?

A few days later, I was relating the incident to a friend when another vulture approached me. This one wanted me to buy a card for $40 that was good for $400 of hair care. He didn't listen when I said I didn't have any money. He insisted I put it on my credit card. So, I told another white lie and said I didn't have a credit card.

It's pretty bad when you have to resort to lies just to maintain privacy.

Chmiola is a sophomore journalism major who already has credit cards, already signed your petition and already voted for your candidate.

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