Congratulations. You took a copy of The Saint. Unless you’re reading this online, in which case you’re a charlatan. You successfully interacted with another human being and took a free newspaper, and in the process, you’re supporting student journalism, an art form not wholly appreciated due to the fact that much of it is, like this, total drivel. I am truly proud of your effort. The fact is that, much like the person you took this from today, I have been standing freezing, exposed to the elements, every other Thursday since I started at this University, and we are truly glad that you acknowledged us. We stand there shouting out to you, offering a free student paper to you. If you are a student surely you want to be up to date with the goings on at the University, or read whatever ‘slander’ we have come up with regarding whatever club you’re involved in. If you are a local surely you want to have a reason, supported by fact that we have sourced, as to why you hate us students. A reason that is other than that precisely 146.7 per cent of us are English and the other 88.282 per cent are American. And that literally all of us are obnoxious, selfish, lazy, binge drinking pieces of flesh being thrown through a blender of hormones, disappointment and bad kebabs.
We WILL give you that reason, all with a smile on our faces. We are glad that when we shouted at you, you gave us something other than a wry smile (which is not an answer by the way), a ‘thank you’ (which, depending on tone, can mean either ‘yes please!’ or ‘be gone from my sight o’ harbinger of pestilence’ and we never know which) or ‘I have one in my bag’ when you clearly do not have a bag on you. Just take it, dammit. It’s a free newspaper. And it’s nowhere near as awful as the Daily Mail, because we blame things on the Union, rather than immigration and house prices. The thing is this kind of thing can lead to a deep-seated rejection complex. I don’t know how people who stand around handing out leaflets all day cope with it. That’s 9-5 commitment there.
At The Saint distribution we only have an hour to do before we can go home and cry into our lunches. The woman who sits outside Tesco (who, incidentally and hypocritically, I have no idea what she’s trying to sell) does that for a big chunk of the day. I would have a break down. It’s not just up here either. Go into any shopping centre and you’ll be offered enough makeup to make Brad Pitt look like a Klingon and enough bubble tea for a blood transfusion. You can walk down some high streets and have leaflets flung at you until you can barely fit your hands into your pockets for all the poorly designed pieces of card with quotations from the Bible/Quran/Torah/50 Shades of Grey scrawled on them. It means that you start to just distrust being given anything on the street. It’s a kind of over-exposure. As soon as somebody begins to approach you while you’re walking along the pavement, sipping your latte or dancing to Uptown Funk, you feel this sudden and inexplicable urge to attack them with a pointed stick. Don’t talk to me. I have headphones in for a reason. You try to avoid eye contact with them, but they somehow still manage to grab your attention and then you have to interact with them. And remain civil. Perhaps one of us did that to you today. But it worked didn’t it. Of course something like this is the easy one. It’s when somebody approaches you rattling a money-box that it becomes difficult to think of a reason to escape. I’m absolutely happy to give money, and I know they have to be proactive. But don’t try and corral me into sticking some of the remaining coppers I have left over after my ill-advised Dervish the night before then look at me like I’m scum for being stingy. What do you want? My credit card? However, sometimes it’s worth stopping and taking something.
I got a free chocolate bar the other day outside the Union. I got a free journal from Scaramanga at the start of the year. I found out about the wonders of Blackhorn because of a leaflet. Sometimes it pays to stop and look. Just be selective. Maybe it will work out for you as well as it has today when you picked up this paper. See, maybe some good can come out of interacting with strangers after all.