Take advantage of people with fliers

They’re everywhere.

Waiting to pounce on anyone who makes eye contact, they ready themselves with fliers in hand and smiles on deck. They position themselves on busy corners and cast their nets over the swarming crowds, hoping for a precious few who won’t slip out of their grasps. Feared by many, an annoyance to all, the people handing out fliers around campus for various groups and services have a pointlessly bad reputation.

Many people go to great lengths to avoid contact with flier-givers.

They swerve to the far edges of sidewalks or pretend they can’t hear “would you like to hear about our specials for students?” over their too-loud headphones. All too often, the scenario plays out something like this: A student spots an advocacy group’s information table, strategically plots a course to keep himself at a safe distance from his adversary, hugs the far edge of the sidewalk and averts his eyes to ensure no notice from the people at the information table. Mission successful: one less flier, four extra seconds of freedom.

Sure, coming home from school every day with five pounds more than I left with because of the unrelenting flow of fliers starts to irk me after a while, but remember: The people manning those information tables are there to inform you and enhance your life in some way. Not convinced? Then try viewing them from one other perspective, as a fountain of free office supplies.

Nearly all the tables have at least free writing utensils. Stock up on these now, and you’ll be set for an entire semester. But also make sure to capitalize on the free candy and keep an eye out for other offers, such as buttons and newspapers. Take advantage of the (useful) free stuff, but also learn a few tactics.

Usually a smile, nod and thank you should suffice. But for those who are nervous about brushing someone off like that, there are other slightly more deceitful ways of staving off an involved conversation with someone at a booth. A simple “I might come back when I have more time” or “Maybe I’ll come to the information meeting” is pain-free and a friendlier confrontation. Very Minnesotan. (Finding more creative excuses can help avoid the outright lying.)

Admittedly, faking interest in a student group or service to mooch some free pens and candy is a bit underhanded, but really, who cares? Don’t fall into irritated avoidance of the people with fliers. Take them on with a mild interest and a bag of excuses, and you won’t have to buy office supplies or candy the rest of the school year.

Melissa Maxa is a University student. Send comments to [email protected]