I go and stand on my street corner. Come rain or shine, there I am, offering the punters an enticing, warm smile, even though I would rather be tucked up in bed. As I trudge along the road, I remind myself that I am doing it to give me a financially stable future.
However, this isn’t Pretty Woman (despite my penchant for Richard Gere and thigh-high boots) – this is me handing you the paper you have been reading. You probably accepted it with a gracious “thank you”, or maybe someone has left this on a coffee table and you are currently turning the pages, occasionally grimacing at the questionable stains on this second hand newspaper. Though these are the most likely scenarios, there are a few people who choose not to pick up a copy of The Saint. Not that there’s anything wrong with that- different strokes for different folks, etc., etc.. I only wish to observe the different ways people choose to decline a copy:
The Catwalk Model- This girl is going places. Specifically, away from me. At any cost. A fashionista, she walks that peculiar runway walk; a sort of lolloping military march. She even has the standard issue thousand-yard stare from battling her way through London Fashion Week. She squints ala Derek Zoolander as I try to make eye contact. In a matter of seconds, she is gone, leaving behind only the lingering scent of her mothballed vintage fur coat.
The Scared Man- “Free copy of The Saint?” I chirrup. The man stops dead, looking as if he is about to vomit from terror. I may be having a break out of spots, but my pustules can’t be that bad. His eyes move down to the paper, and they widen in fright. “No, no thank you,” he replies, his voice trembling. The only explanation I can think of is that this type of passer-by believes The Saint’s religious-sounding title denotes a cult pamphlet. The poor man probably thinks I am a rogue member of the Manson Family, or about to whisk him off to South America for an all-expenses paid trip to Jonestown.
Should I Stay or Should I Go- Initially, this potential customer seems eager to take a copy. Their eyes brighten and they stretch out their hand. Suddenly, they are filled with doubt about their decision to pick up a free student newspaper. “Oh, actually… I don’t know. I’ll have a think about it,” they say as their indecision causes a traffic jam of people to splinter and collide into each other by the Union. Frustrating as it is, you have to have sympathy for these people. Imagine the challenges daily life poses; “Do I want toast or cereal for breakfast? Better make up some pro and con lists.” The poor dears must agonise for hours.
Not that I dislike everyone who refuses a copy of our publication. No, sometimes these people are the most interesting of all. As I handed out the last issue, an older gentleman struck up a conversation with me. He refused the newspaper, instead regaling me with his tales of his time at St Andrews decades ago. Then he moved on to his time in the armed forces. One particular anecdote ended with, “My Captain in the Navy said to me of marriage, “Why make one woman miserable for the rest of your life when you can make hundreds very happy indeed?”” This man seemed like a modern-day Giacamo Casanova- I’d love to read his memoirs. As he strutted off into the morning mist, I was left imagining his ship pulling through the same fog as he came into yet another port. So, refuse me if you must, but at least do it with the same swagger as St Andrews’ most intriguing resident (other than Hamish the cat).