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Thursday, September 24, 2009

I'll probably upload tomorrow, but today I want to talk about "street mentality."

Something I've noticed as I walk streets and talk with folks, is that different neighborhoods have different ways of saying no.

Like, in one neighborhood, everyone says, "I'd really LOVE to help, but I can't right now." In another, "I can't help." is all they say. In some it's "I WISH I could help," in others, "I won't be helping you." Oddly, often the same basic comment is made through a certain set of streets, but then on other streets, very nearby, folks are in a totally different space. My theory is that folks take their subconscious cues from some maven in one of the houses nearby, and use whatever lingo that person uses.

The interesting thing about this is the "mood" of the response. I really don't have that much of a problem with someone saying, "I don't like art, I don't like cartoons, and I'm not going to help you." Ok, fine. Or, "I don't read cartoons, but good luck." Also fine. But, I feel genuine pity for someone who tells me "I can't." How disempowering. A total stranger has knocked on their door, offering some item, and the person inside feels, at least on some level that they CANNOT help, even if they want to. This is very similar to someone who says, "it's my policy not to do any business at the door," which is all good and fine, except that if you create a policy, you have the right to break it, especially if it's worth ten seconds of your time, and sure, if that's your "policy," whatever...but, if you say, "I'd like to help/look at/buy your stuff, BUT I have a no sales at the door policy," now you are living by the letter, not the spirit of your own laws.

When I was a kid, I read a funny Mad Magazine cartoon that sort of sums up this "I can't, I have too many rules" type of thinking. A husband and wife are trying to decide wether to get a subaru or a volkswagon. Finally, they decide to flip a coin. It comes up Subaru. Both of them angrily throw down their car description books, "Darn it," says the husband, "I really wanted a Volkswagon." "Yeah," agrees the wife, "me too." In other words, because they pretended to themselves they didn't care, they feel they have to invest the decision in some coin, despite both of them disagreeing with its result!

I always wish everyone who rejects my pitch "good luck." With such disempowering ideas, many need as much luck as they can get!

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