The Guide to Hawking Without Pissing Me Off

Street Hawkers are a necessary evil in New York. It's pretty much like spam on the sidewalk - you know that eventually, despite all attempts to hide yourself, you're going to get it, whether you like it or not. They seem to be most common where I work in Midtown, where workers are generally satisfied with their lunch options, but hawkers try to convince them that their Chinese take-out two blocks away is better than the one next door to your office building. As Mitch Hedberg once said of hawkers, "whenever I walk, people try to hand me out flyers. And when someone tries to hand me out a flyer, it's kinda like they're saying, 'Here, YOU throw this away.'"

I generally face an enterprising hawker on my way into work every morning, trying to hit up workers on their way to their offices with some sort of lunch special. Most hawkers are fairly passive, but lately, the guys prowling around the subway station around 9am have been a lot more aggressive. If anything, this infinitely decreases the chances that I would take their flyer (less than zero?). So, I provide this guide to the Dos and Don'ts of Hawking.

1. Do not enter my two-foot-wide bubble of personal space. I live in New York. I barely get enough personal space as it is. So when I'm out in the open, the last thing I want is a useless piece of paper shoved into that nice bubble. And do not EVER put the paper in contact with my body. You could give me a paper cut, and that wouldn't exactly improve my opinion of your establishment.

2. Do not block my view of my reading material. Are you fucking serious? I'm in the middle of reading about who Lindsay Lohan was snuggling with last night, and you have the nerve to stick your flyer over my newspaper? It's not like I didn't see you a block away. I'm staring down at my newspaper for a reason: I want nothing to do with your stupid flyer.

3. Do not move to position yourself in my line of sight. You're getting in my way. I am walking to work, and you're stepping right in front of me in order to get my attention. You will not get my attention. You are an obstruction, and nothing more. I will run you down.

4. DO passively extend your arm with flyer in hand, and move away when I approach with no interest. The most polite hawkers will recognize a lack of interest and will pull their flyer away before it gets in my way. I appreciate this. Your courtesy is fruitless, though, because I'm still not going to take your fucking flyer.

11 Moments of Idiocy:

Anonymous Ryan said...

Aaah, the benefits of not having arms.

3:33 AM  
Blogger thenextstopwillbe said...

hawkers annoy the h*ll out of me as well but i've found that a barely perceptable head shake is quite effective in shooing them off. at least for the more polite ones.

1:09 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

that's some beautiful powerpoint work there, chris.

3:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love going to Chinatown, where people try to foist their fliers onto you without looking up at your face. When they look up, and realize that you're a wide-eye, they just chuckle, because you're not going to have any idea what's written on the flier.

-Mac.

4:22 PM  
Blogger thefayth said...

hilarious!

5:27 PM  
Blogger Crouching Hamster said...

I think you should turn these lovely charts and such into fliers, and hawk 'em back. ("I don't know if you are aware of it, but *these* are the rules.")

5:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having grown up in NY, I've spent my life perfecting the art of completely ignoring people on the street. It involves fixing your eyes in the middle distance and never glancing in the direction of the street hawker, homeless guy, what-have-you; no matter how distracting their behavior is. It takes a great deal of facial control to feign complete self-apsorbtion, but with practice you too will eventually be able to pass anything by on the street and not even acknowledge it. Good accessories for this are, sunglasses (so they can't actually see your eyes), and headphones (iPod or whatever, they don't have to even be connected to anything, people will assume you can't hear them). Failing that, the curt "hand me that flyer and I'll cut your hands off" headshake works too.

6:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm in Tokyo right now and they're everywhere. All times of the day. I've found that they usually know how annoying their job is--so if you laugh at them, they will laugh back.

9:43 AM  
Anonymous J. J. Hunsecker said...

Let's show some professional courtesy, Chris. You, I, the hawkers: all in the flackery business. I suspect you suck blood a little higher on the foodchain, that's all. If you were really a whale, you wouldn't have to crap on the minnows.

7:54 AM  
Anonymous Chelly said...

And the hawkers still attempt to hand you a flyer even if your hands are full. Do they expect you to grab the flier with your teeth?
Usually if eye contact is made, I give them a simple "no" nod and keep it moving.

11:49 AM  
Blogger Leonviba said...

Ha, ha, ha JJ Hunsecker had realy given us a good point.

10:33 AM  

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