It was just before Christmas and I had a half day so left work about 2pm, and walked past the London Palladium on my way to the Tube and up Chugger Boulevard.
Chugger Boulevard, aka Argyll Street, is not one of Soho’s seedy regions, but rather is a key territory for the Oxford Street vicinity’s many packs of chuggers. Chuggers are the “charity muggers” who stop you in the street to tell you about their charity and try to get you to sign up for a lifelong monthly donation.
I have nothing against charities, I donate to 3 carefully selected charities every month, and even grew a stupid moustache for charity 18 months ago raising quite a substantial amount. But these chuggers are essentially paid to harass people into giving money. I don’t disagree with them getting a commission – if they are generating money for the charity then they should, just like how some charity jobs are quite well-paid, nothing wrong with that. It’s the methods some of these cunts use. They walk up to you and grab your hand to shake it. Um, excuse me, let the fuck go of my hand or my other hand will have a serious conversation with the bridge of your nose… And they 90% of the time target by gender, so the guys will try to chat up girls and the girls will use their happy-go-lucky smiles to lure in unsuspecting boys who relish any opportunity to talk to an attractive young charity nymph.
Yes this is a voice of experience I have been “chugged” before.
Now I deploy all means to avoid them because I appear to have “one of those faces” which means I get targeted every fucking time. But every so often, despite hiding behind people I deem to have even more of a “one of those faces”, I still get caught. And I have to think on my feet, like this example from a dog charity’s attempted chug:
Flighty young chuggette: “Hey there, you look like a nice guy, I love your jacket, have you got a second. Do you like puppies?”
Me: “Nope, can’t stand them.”
Not true that I hate dogs, but it certainly caught her off guard. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t hate this method of charity collecting, and yet every time I see people standing having long involved conversations with the chuggers, and as I walk past they are NEVER talking about the charity, they are always talking about what kind of music they like or where they buy their clothes. I swear this is just a scam to help people pick up members of the opposite sex.
So… on this pre-Christmas afternoon I had successfully negotiated most of Chugger Boulevard and was nearing the turning onto Oxford Street. There was one chugger left but he was already in conversation with a young black guy; I strolled past and eavesdropped – music and fashion eh I bet.
But no, this young man was just asking the chugger for directions. Nice one, take them out of action with time-consuming tourist questions and help the professionals of Soho get home from work quicker. What a gent. The chugger seemed clueless to help him though and just after I walked past I heard the young guy say “I’m just looking for PlayStation, someone said it was around here.”
I sensed a good deed, and some one-upmanship on the foolish chugger. I turned back and approached the man, “Are you looking for PlayStation?” I asked. He nodded “Yeah is it around here?”
“Yeah it’s just a few minutes away. I actually work for PlayStation, the offices are just round the corner.” I assumed maybe he was a lost young job interviewee, some fresh new talent with limited geographical savvy who might come to work with us on a new GPS device, or a new version of the game The Getaway – a PS2 gangster romp where you actually started the game just outside our development studio’s office. I was doubly happy to help now.
“We have three offices round here all next to each other, do you want the European HQ, the UK office, or the Game Studios?”
He didn’t seem to care, “Um, not sure, just any PlayStation.”
So I gave him detailed directions to our central office and ensured he couldn’t miss it. Karma would be kind to me for this good deed, no doubt about it.
He said to me just before he walked off “So I can sort out my phone there right?”
“Um, is it a Sony phone?”
“Well, thing is PlayStation doesn’t actually do the phones, it’s a different division, and the offices I told you about, they don’t actually do any repairs or anything, it’s just our head offices.”
He seemed confused, he said “Someone told me PlayStation could give me a report about my phone, ” (baffling) “I had my phone stolen, you see, so I need to go to a PlayStation to get a report so I can get my insurance to get me a new one.” (Oh……)
The penny dropped on my side, finally. “Ah, you’re looking for a POLICE STATION, not a PLAYSTATION?”
“Yeah, my phone got nicked, why would I be looking for a PlayStation?”
“Right, in that case, it’s all been a misunderstanding. Ignore the directions I gave you, I misheard what you wanted, and to make matters worse after I have wasted so much of both our time, I actually have absolutely no fucking idea where the actual police station is. Um, bye!”