Off the Press

July 31, 2012

By Kathleen R. Merrill

Signature gatherers need a lesson in manners

Kathleen Merrill
Press managing editor

I’ll be glad when all the recent initiatives and various other causes are wrapped up for this cycle and we don’t see signature gatherers again for a while.

To be clear, I am not against any specific cause here. And I’m never against people and their passions. In fact, I think many people could become more passionate about causes that need help.

And I’m not necessarily against signature gatherers. I just think some of them need to learn some manners.

I don’t know what it is these days about manners in general, but it seems the practice of good manners is declining.

But back to the signature gatherers. I had one recently who wouldn’t take no for an answer. Sometimes on my days off, I just like to be left alone, especially when ticking through a list of errands so I can get to enjoying my life.

On a recent trip to Target, I was in a hurry to get home and wash and wax my car, so I could get the T-tops out and enjoy some sun. This woman outside the store hollered at me and when I tried to wave her off yelled, “But are you registered to vote? What are you going to do about blah, blah, blah?”

I looked her in the eye then, removing my sunglasses to do so, and said as politely as possible, “No thank you.”

She then continued to harangue me about halfway down an aisle in the parking lot. Are you kidding me? Who teaches them to do that?

I was at the Gravity Car races a few weeks ago and had another incident with a signature gatherer. He was not remotely kind and more than a little rude, walking up to everyone who would hear him (including special-needs youths), asking them to sign for whatever he was representing. I heard numerous young people tell him they weren’t old enough to vote, but he would not relent.

An organizer told him what the event was about and that she didn’t think it was an appropriate place for politics. That’s when he started raising his voice and being ugly about him being a taxpayer and about having a right to be there.

Of course signature gatherers have rights, but how about exercising the right to be kind, considerate and not abusive?

Do signature gatherers go to Rude School? Is there a place where someone teaches them to be as loud and obnoxious as possible? To raise their voice even more to browbeat people into signing if they even suggest they’d rather not?

I’d start my own petition to ban signature gatherers at certain places, but I’m afraid trying to get the required number of signatures would turn me into a jerk.

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