Sacramento, California - The library quad is littered with people, specifically people with flyers. At the beginning of each semester it's the exact same thing. In order to get from one end of the quad to the other, it's necessary to face the gauntlet of fraternities, sororities, special interest groups, and of course 24 Hour Fitness. It's interesting, no amusing, to see the various techniques that both prey and predator use in order to survive.
So what are the most common techniques to avoid the unwanted?
1. The White Rabbit
When passing through it's best to look as though you know where you are going. It's even better if you look like you're running late; anxious glances at your watch are always a nice touch. At the beginning of the semester no one is going to doubt your sincerity. If you're ever in doubt, it's okay to run.
2. Take It and Trash It
Sometimes walking quickly isn't enough. There are those who will chase after you, papers flapping in their hand and before you know it you've been "flyered." In order to avoid the speech that accompanies the flyer, most students have learned to not only walk briskly, but also occasionally stick out a hand to take the flyer. Once the paper goes from one hand to another the naive predator feels as though they've won something, namely you. Little do they know that their flyer will not be appreciated. The experienced have learned to take the paper, count to ten and shove it in the nearest trash, pocket, or bag.
3. The Cell Phone Wanderer
Others have learned to avoid the flyers completely by striking up a conversation on their cell phone while passing through. This is possibly the best way to avoid any unwanted solicitors. Most people will respect your privacy, allowing you to amble through without a care in the world. But beware; there are those who will interrupt that important call with mom.
Now how does one counter these techniques. There are variety of ways to draw anyone of the aforementioned quarry back into your domain.
1. The Fuzzy Wuzzy
There aren't many who can pass up something fuzzy. Any type of pet is a sure bait, especially for the fairer sex. Beware however, that your furry friend will get more attention than your organization.
2. "Free" Candy For Your Soul
Most college students can't pass up food, especially when it's free and fattening. All you need to do is exchange that tootsie pop for an email address or phone number and the promise that they'll "think about it." It's a good idea to offer food that requires time to eat, that way you're ensured a certain amount of time to make them hear you out.
3. Now You See It, Now You Don't
By far the most innovated technique was used by James as we tabled out on the quad for Alpha Phi Omega. We only had one flyer, because our chapter is not only small (only comprising of six actives), but also cheap. So in order to sign up prospective pledges without losing the flyer, James came up with the brilliant idea of shocking people in order to get their attention.
James would wait for his prey, casually holding out our only flyer, baiting the unsuspecting Take It and Trash It. Once they'd go for the bait, James would quickly snatch it away and ask, "Are you really interested?"
I didn't believe until I saw, but it worked.
"It really shocks people," he told. "And makes them actually want to listen." And most do listen intently to what he has to say about our Co-Ed National Service Fraternity on campus. And while he received his fair share of rejections, he took it all in stride, "At least they're honest. Plus this way we only sign up those who really are into it."