These days I’m quite proficient at my chugger swerve – the art of unexpectedly changing direction while walking down the street so that the fixed grin and overly-cheering greeting of the guy with the clipboard gets transferred to the poor sod behind me. It didn’t always used to be this way. Almost exactly three years ago I was newly returned from Africa and hadn’t quite regained my urban survival skills: in short, I made eye contact. And when people greeted me, I greeted back. I’d been abroad for two years and had never heard of chuggers so I ended up having a jolly nice chat about cancer research with an enthusiastic young man who was so surprised at having someone stop and talk to him that he forgot to ask me to sign up to a direct debit.

Anyway, I soon wised up and so has everyone else with the result that the charities have opened a new front in the battle to dissipate any remaining good will among their likely donors: the home front. No sooner had I posted my entry yesterday than the front doorbell rang and both of us went down to see what it was. (Our doorbell never rings – we’re Londoners. We don’t know our neighbours and all our friends live scattered around a 15 mile radius in a bid to find somewhere to live that is both affordable and has schools that aren’t fast-track feeder schools for HMP Feltham.) Anyway, we opened the door and there was an enthusiastic young woman who proceeded to tell us an enormous number of irrelevant facts while we stood there waiting for her to actually ask us something so that we could refuse. She burbled on with her graphs and where she was from and showed us her ID while I could feel every last molecule of vaguely warm air in the house flow past my ankles into the street. Finally we managed to edge her back out of the doorway and send her as politely as possible on her way before the water in the toilet froze over, striking that charity off the list of possible good causes to donate to.

So this leaves me with two questions: 1 – if people who accost you on the street for money for charity are chuggers, are the people who accost you in the comfort of your own home churglars? And 2 – in order to decently retain the moral high ground I clearly need to set up a direct debit for a charity, and preferably one that doesn’t chug*. Any suggestions? Or at least any horror stories of ones to avoid?

* or send you those guilt-trip pens or pennies to make you give them money back


12 responses to “Chug-a-lug

  1. Churglers come at night-day mendicnts are chouse chreakers-cheakers for short. A very good charity for standing orders is Celebral Palsy Africa-you will not be chugged, churgled or cheaked by them. And no flag days either

  2. Not really a horror-story, but there is something to do with younf offenders or something who come round in West London to sell household goods like pens, wipes etc to raise money to keep them on the straight, or something similar. I’ve opened the door twice, both in freezing cold, and both times did purchase something… Never ever purchased anything from a chugger though, especially the one who, despite my best efforts to politely cut her off, just wouldn’t shut up/get the hint/whatever, so in the end I had to be rude and say “Look, I’m not interested, please, I need to go”.

  3. I support the National Library for the Blind. I did an entry about it recently and there is a link to the website on my blog.

  4. great post, I can’t believe they actually knock on people’s doors now. A good charity to donate to might be the Phu fund. I’ll give you the details if you want.

  5. nice try, Phu (and huttonian for that matter). Thanks for the suggestion, Flighty. And Carina, what was the charity the persistent chugger worked for? Just so I know who to avoid …

  6. It was I believe for something to do with things in a different country lol! Yep, projects they were starting up in underdeveloped countries and stuff like that. Very noble cause of course, but not when you are trying to make it bleeding obvious you’re in a hurry and they won’t get the hint…
    They were bang in the middle of Leicester Square… poor tourists!

  7. Oh but free pens – free pens. You can’t say no to a free pen. I’ve never heard of receiving pennies.
    As for which charity to donate to, it depends on your preferences. I’m sure you know who chug or churgle by now.

  8. I can’t remember who used to do the pennies, but my immediate reaction was ‘why would I want to give money away to a charity that does that?’ Ditto the pens, although of course I’m not averse to free stuff, particularly pigs … And I’ve got so good at swerving the chuggers I don’t even register the charity they represent …

  9. Most recent ones I’ve seen: Shelter, Amnesty International, something for bears (I think), something for cancer, I think Save the Children. But Amnesty does good work, so I’m letting them off. For the record, I rate Medicines Sans Frontiers.

  10. Ah yes MSF – I’d forgotten about them (maybe this chugging lark has a point …)

  11. The Charities Aid Foundation website has some useful info on the top fundraising charities, including how much is devoted to admin costs. Personally I’d second the suggestion for MSF, although I’m normally a sucker for an unpopular cause (mental health, prisoners etc).

  12. Thanks for the tip … some research is indicated.

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