Chugging! I can’t be the only one to experience chuggers on the streets of York, can I? No, surely not. But I seem to attract them and unless I am walking around with a full-on -wits-about-me attitude they will get me. I’m not being uncharitable, but leave me alone.
A few weeks ago we were in York city centre. We’d just been to see Billy Shakes: Wonderboy at the Rose Theatre and we were meeting our older daughters in the town before heading back home. We didn’t have much time as we were heading for the Ryedale show.
I saw her ahead of us. The crowds seem to part and she locked eyes on us and that was it. We were on a collision course and there was nothing we could do about it. Yes, we were in the sights of an Oxfam charity mugger – aka a chugger.
She was a bubbly young lady with a clear talent for rocking up to strangers and trying to persuade them to part with their money. I’m not a rude person so I allowed her to deliver her pitch to us.
It was water. All about water and what Oxfam is doing to help provide clean drinking water to those in Africa that don’t have access to it. A noble thing they are doing – no doubt about it. I do think we take for granted our ready supply of clean water that comes out of our taps on request.
At this point, before I go on, I will tell you that we donate to charity already. In addition to that we shop in charity shops (Oxfam included) and we both done charitable volunteer work.
When she stopped to take a breath, and believe me she could have rivalled the world free-diving champion in that regard, I jumped in with what I thought was a killer response, one sure to end this conversation:
“Isn’t that was WaterAid do? We already donate to WaterAid.”
I had her on the ropes. Without being rude, I had found a get-out clause in this chugging and we were surely soon to be freed and allowed to go on our way.
She conceded that it was indeed the same thing as the work that WaterAid does. But she fixed a gaze – she wasn’t done with us.
Like Rocky pulling himself up from the canvas to pull off the most amazing of recoveries, she switched up her narrative.
Girls. “Girls” was her new angle.
We had our two young daughters with us so she switched causes faster than Ronaldo could go around a League 2 defender to appeal to our parental side.
Female genital mutilation was her new angle. Again, something that needs funding to educate people and put an end to this barbaric abuse.
But I had to stop her. She wasn’t listening to us and the fact that charitable giving and donations have to stop somewhere. We don’t have an endless pot of money to keep signing up to monthly donation direct debits.
Frankly, she was winding me up at the point she stated that £2 per week was less than the cost of a cup of coffee. I HATE this analogy. It implies that everyone rocks up to Costa or Starbucks of a morning to throw a fiver at a mocha-caramel-iced-espresso-skinny-latte with squirty cream on top. The fact is – I don’t. I don’t even go to the local corner cafe and buy coffee in the morning. Like most folk, I make one at home and it costs nowhere bloody near £2 to do it!
Fundraising for a charity is a bloody hard job. I couldn’t do it and I mean no ill-feeling towards this young lady and her noble cause. But it has to stop. It’s not just Oxfam, though in York they seem prolific in the summer. Stopping people going about their day, and in York, that’s likely to mean a day out, and attempting to guilt them into signing up is just not on.
My new tactic will be simpler: I’ll sign up and cancel the direct debit as soon as it appears on my online banking.
I’ll donate to charity in my own time, on my own terms and to the charities I want to donate to.
Thanks for reading