I’m learning to be a duck. At least that’s what I perceive my training as a street fundraiser is preparing me for – a litany of rejections, mountains of avoidance and above all, the practiced gazes of people who ignore me just because I want to talk to them. I’m learning how to let snide comments, glares and blatant annoyance roll off of me like water off a duck’s feathers.
The funny part is, if I wasn’t wearing a vest, carrying a binder of information or actively seeking interaction with these people I would, most likely, get by with a small smile or a nod of recognition for my existence. But I am one of those people who ask you if you have a moment to chat on a street corner, and I am proud of my involvement with my organization.
I have been canvassing for around seven hours a day for the past two days and it has been a roller coaster ride of experiences. On my first full day of work I arrived fifteen minutes prior to the start time I had marked in my calendar – unfortunately, changes had been made to the schedule and this failure to communicate sent me into a tailspin of fear. I have never been late for a job, an interview or an event, unless extreme extenuating circumstances ensued, like having the driver of the car that’s transporting you temporarily losing her keys.
I was convinced my career in street fundraising was over before it even began, but I was wrong. My team had only been operating on our assigned turf for several minutes before my arrival and my coach was completely understanding. Despite the general attitude of forgiveness, I will confess that a few tears were shed because during the ten minute walk between our office and our turf I had convinced myself that I was an utter disappointment to my company.
That first day was interesting to say the least, but strangely, unsurprising. One of my new colleagues had told me before my first full shift that this job builds up one’s faith in humanity and then tears it down again. However, I disagreed. After observing how people interacted with myself and my colleagues, I came to the conclusion that it is simple estrangement and detachment that people cling to which tells them to avoid us. Disinterest or zoning out with the help of music, lectures or audiobooks in our ears means that we tend to miss the opportunities that surround us. In my case, at least a hundred people, if not more missed out on the opportunity to make a difference in our world.
However, this job is never dull and I have yet to lose my faith in humanity. I obtained my first sponsor today – he was a sweet, understanding and kind man who saw the value in my work and the work of the charity I was representing. The second he signed that piece of paper my heart soared because yes, people can be cruel, selfish and down right rude, but there is a spark in each person, that when nurtured just right, will burst into a flame of passion for bettering the world we live in. So, I guess that means even ducks can be catalysts, if they clack their beaks properly, and for that shining afternoon this duck-to-be was exactly where she was supposed to be.
Today, I felt lighter than air after that first sponsorship; I felt as if the streets of the capital were my home and my colleagues were my family. We share the same drive for change and action. In the end, we all have to share this world and we should all be working for the same overall cause, to help better humanity, one conversation at a time.