#46 Petitioners

“These guys look like they want to talk about the environment!”

They are everywhere. Spawned from the pits of telemarketing cubicles; an army of petitioners are growing on the streets of downtown Portland. These creatures can be spotted blocks away. Here is how you identify them:

  • Backpack or fanny pack
  • Clipboard
  • Ponytail
  • Facial Hair (Not gender specific)
  • Wears layers of clothing or a costume
  • Really tan
  • Like to argue with you

Living and working downtown affords one the opportunity to be harassed by these people four or five times a day. One wonders if this is not part of a plan to give snotty homeless tourist kids something to do other than ask for change and scream songs at food cart customers. This may only be anecdotal, but personally over the last 3 to 4 months I’ve noticed that for every pan-handler I run into I hit at least 2 of these petitioners (and my daily route includes Skidmore fountain and a number of Old Town soup kitchens.

Ever tried to eat at Pioneer Square lately or maybe outside of Big Pink? Were you also assaulted by the slacker save-the-children-on-tree-welfare-and-don’t-forget-to-vote brigade? Did flecks of spit get in your eye and on your burrito as they continued to not take “No!” for an answer? Did you even for the smallest instant picture what it would be like to gouge their eyes out with their own pen while shoving their clipboards so far up their ass that they couldn’t ever wear a hat again? Yeah, me neither.

I never thought I’d say this, but I’d rather them ask for change or cigarettes.

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11 Responses to “#46 Petitioners”


  1. 1 Baron Phillip von Traum 09/14 at 3:36 am

    Here’s one I’ve seen several times, and fallen for once or twice. There will be a pair of them, 1 male, 1 female, both early 20’s. The girl will wait for an unaccompanied man to walk by and, puffing out her sweater puppies like a mating bird, she’ll ask you if you have time to talk about something really important (saving the endangered spotted dolphin habitat) then as soon as you feign interest enough to get away with checking her out, she pawns you off on Jacob, who actually gives the spiel. Nowadays I just play the ultimate form of devil’s advocate and claim to vigorously support whatever it is they are against, and continue to debate them politely, but as annoyingly as possible while refusing all attempts by them to exit the conversation. Once I had some hemp necklace wearing ass-hat named Chadd (that’s right 2 d’s) say something like “dude just go away, I don’t want to hear what you have to say” I leaned in and, in my best trembling-with-serial-killer-rage growling whisper I said, “now you know how we feel you fucking sanctimonious little prick. Go eat a bag of dicks, and learn to spell your name.”

  2. 2 Heather 05/16 at 12:42 am

    I’ve mastered the “I’m not registered to vote in Oregon, I’m from Washington” or the headphones move. The PSU campus is the worst area for petitioners, I hate it. I actually yelled at one girl, but she had it coming, and I scared her enough that she left me alone.

  3. 3 carly 01/10 at 11:48 am

    this picture was not even taken in portland. this is the UO campus in eugene.

  4. 4 geeb 04/24 at 6:43 pm

    My boyfriend is a petitioner, he’s a middle-aged French guy, he usually just makes up the names and addresses – he doesn’t much like other people and prefers not to talk to them if they’re rude as most of the people he approaches on the street are. He doesn’t have a pony tail, sorry, and would never be caught dead with a backpack or fanny pack, although I use them. Most of the other people he works with are nutballs, felons (including a forger, a kidnapper and a bank robber, who all have served their debt to society) and retired people.

  5. 5 ASW 11/07 at 4:38 pm

    I say in perfect English “No hablo ingles” Works every time… by the time they’ve figured out what’s happening Im 20 steps down the block…

  6. 6 There's just so many of them!! 11/01 at 3:26 pm

    I tell them I’m dyslexic and won’t sign anything I can’t read. If people are pushing candy I’m diabetic. If they are trying to get you to vote you can always try saying you’re a sex offender, may as well fuck with them since they’re fucking with you.

  7. 7 jeffrey 09/14 at 10:35 am

    the ABSOLUTE best way to get rid of these people is to immediately “take an important call” on your cellphone when you see them in your peripheral vision. I assume you have one, if you work downtown. 🙂

  8. 8 Sid 08/14 at 8:40 am

    Actually, that last comment was a bit unfair. The zombies in a George Romero film are better conversationalists than most of the enviro-petitioners out in front of Powell’s. The best way to derail those twits is by answering their questions in any manner that doesn’t compute with their canned answers. I knew one guy who had great success with “I like to wear rubber underwear.”

  9. 9 Sid 08/14 at 8:37 am

    Ah, yes, the one position in Portland where you can’t tell the difference between the employed and the unemployed, and where it doesn’t really matter. I keep waiting for Powell’s on Burnside to put up electrified fences and start culling the herd so that customers can get inside without being attacked, because Friday afternoons out front look like a crowd scene in a George Romero movie.

  10. 10 dayn 08/08 at 1:01 pm

    Found a good petitioner repellent, headphones. I’ll wear ’em even if I’m not listening to anything. If nothing else, it’s license to ignore the question, “Are you a registered voter?”

  11. 11 Aaron V. 08/07 at 11:13 pm

    I spot them from *far* away and avoid them – if I see a clipboard or binder in some Trustafarian’s hands, I cross to the other side of the street or try to put someone else in their sights.

    They’re 1000 times worse than the dirtiest panhandler.


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