Hello there, kind sir or madam. I see you
have a flyer in your hand. What can I do for you? You want me to
vote for your friend for MSA representative? Your up-and-coming
band is playing a free show this Friday? Jesus loves me, and you
want me to come to heaven with you?

Mira Levitan

Thanks. I appreciate it. No, really, I do. But you better just
hang onto that. Maybe I’m just old fashioned, but I think
people should get to know each other before they give one another
flyers.

It all goes back to the “don’t take candy from
strangers” mantra that was etched into my brain at a young
age. It’s a defense mechanism, really. I’m naturally
distrusting of strange people who try to hand me things —
even things as seemingly harmless as candy and flyers.

At least that’s how it started. Now, it’s turned
into a game. Walking to and from classes is such an unexciting and
uninspiring experience that I’ll do just about anything to
make it more interesting, and dodging flyers is certainly one way
to do it.

Most flyers are easy to avoid. The majority of flyer
distributors don’t have their hearts in it, anyway. A simple
scoff or a “no, thank you” (depending on your mood)
will dismiss them. Others have more engaging
salesperson-personality types and will try to appeal to you with a
smile and a slick delivery. Spot these people and avoid them, or if
they’re directly in your path, sneak behind them.

In my years here at the University, I’ve gotten pretty
good at dodging flyers. In fact, only one person has ever gotten
me. I remember it vividly. It was Sept. 21, 2000, a chilly fall
afternoon. I was walking on East Liberty Street. As I approached
the Michigan Theater, where Green Party presidential candidate
Ralph Nader was speaking that day, I saw a gentleman handing out
Nader flyers.

No problem, I thought. I’ll just sneak around him. Little
did I know that the man before me was a master flyer distributor. I
attempted to walk behind him as a crowd of people passed on the
other side. I thought I was in the clear when my rival spun quickly
and delivered a flyer right into my hands.

It was truly awe inspiring. I was devastated. I went home and
spent the rest of the day crying in my bedroom. It almost made me
want to vote for Ralph Nader. Almost.

Discussing this topic earlier this week, my friend Scott told me
that I should take each bit of paper offered to me from each
strange person who offers it. He said that as one of the
enlightened few, I should take it upon myself to rid the world of
flyers by taking every one that I can. The sooner the flyer
distributor runs out, the sooner he or she is off the street.

But in the end, it’s a matter of trust. You never know
what that person waving the flyer at you has on his or her mind.
What’s in it for this person to get her friend elected to
MSA? Exactly how bad is this guy’s up-and-coming band? Does
Jesus really love me, and what’s heaven actually like?
Sometimes I get curious, but I never have the guts to find out.
It’s simply not worth the risk.

— You should feel honored if Joel takes one of your
flyers. That means he likes you and trusts you. He can be reached
at j.ho@umich.edu.

 

 

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