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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Beggars, Street-Sellers and Fund-Raisers

If you take a walk at lunchtime in the city (Melbourne) you will likely be interrupted by somebody who wants money from you. Beggars will want a few dollars, ostensibly for a room or a bus.  Fund-raisers for the larger non-government organisations won't accept cash donations. They want your credit card details in order to make monthly donations. At least the street-sellers leave you with something other than just a good feeling. By the way, the good feeling from giving only comes if your do it out of love and not guilt.

I think people should be able to wear an “Opt-Out” badge that requires people to leave them alone when they are walking down a street or on public transport. Headphones are one of my favourite ways that somehow make people leave me alone. When I was living in the city I would wear headphones with the lead stuck in my pocket, and nobody would interrupt me. Without headphones, I was constantly stopped. Shaving my head completely bald and wearing a big moustache was also an effective technique for being left alone. That actually made some people cross the road.

The opt-out badge could list what one is prepared to be interrupted for. Then people on the street would not interrupt you for things that anger you or in which you are not interested.

A badge might look like this:

Interrupt me for:
Money, food, gym memberships
DO NOT interrupt me for:
Greenpeace, Red Cross, Christianity, anything else

Spock would think that this would be a logical and efficient social contract.
McCoy would rather people just left him alone when he walked down the street.