1. If you’re handing me a sample of food, you can take a minute of my time.
1 a. Unless it’s yogurt. I have no time for yogurt. Not a minute. Not a second.
2. I won’t take the free paper from you, but I will say good morning, and no thank you, and sing Jesus Christ Post to myself in your honour every day because your outstretched arms remind me of crucifixion.
3. You’re on the phone and you want to talk about how I can give you money for something. I am not interested in giving you money, or listening to you.
3 a. My computer doesn’t run Windows.
3 b. I stopped doing phone surveys a long time ago.
3 c. I am not the deadbeat who owes you and your client money, even though my name is similar to his.
4. I will tell you what time it is. I will give you directions, if I can. I will take a picture of you and your friends holding up your fingers, flashing peace signs. I will help you cross the street if you are a person who needs help crossing the street. I will take your arm and lead you to the bus stop if you can’t see. I have a minute of my time for these things.
5. I do not want to talk about children who need sponsorship, the planet’s woes, or how I can send relief to war-torn countries by giving you my credit card number. Not because I don’t care about these things. I care deeply. But I want to get where I am going and you are standing between me and my destination.
The giving part of my brain is actually quite large — maybe the size of Texas in a brain the size of America — but when you ask me for things when I’m on my way somewhere, especially on my way home from work, that giving part of my brain is inaccessible. The more you try to appeal to it, with your cocked head and persuasive stories, your pleading voice, the less likely — in fact, the less able — I am to change my mind.
Your utterly worthwhile charities support people in need, which people I would gladly give a minute of my time to, were they the ones standing in front of me. But it’s not them between me and my train home, it’s you. It’s you I have to stare past and ignore, day after day, or I’m afraid I will start hating you and the giving part of my brain will shrink and then I’ll be less compassionate than I am now.
I’m sorry. Not today.