Ways to Respond to the Plaza People
written by Hillary Coffman
It was a warm morning in September, right when the temperature starts to shift into cooler fall weather. I was walking with purpose because I was about to cut through the center of campus and I could see the Green Peace representatives prowling. If I walk like I don’t have a minute to spare, surely they won’t stop me, right?
He appeared out of nowhere: “excuse me, do you have a minute to save a polar bear?” Before I could actually process the interaction, the words I heard coming out of my mouth were “my dad was killed by a polar bear.” He stared. I kept walking.
Fast forward several months. It’s cold now, and the temperature requires so many layers to stay warm on the commute to class. My guard is down because the people who want my time in the plaza are hibernating. But not the man standing on the ledge near the LSC, yelling at every single person who walks by. As I get closer, I do my best to blend into my surrounds. I fail. “ You! Girl with the blue scarf. You’re a whore. God told me.” Naturally this gives me pause because I am, in fact, wearing a blue scarf. But last I checked I wasn’t a whore.
The people on the plaza are unavoidable. It’s just a fact of life, and we have several ways we can choose to respond. Here are some options:
Always be ready with something that will catch them off guard and give you time to escape
Walk around with a bag of glitter. Yell “surprise!” and throw some in the air. Sprint away.
Tell them your dad was killed by a polar bear.
Yell “duck!” and then run.
Basically just shout something, anything, and dip.
engage with caution
Of course, you can stop and talk to the Plaza People. Consider doing so if it is an issue you care about. You might learn a little something new. BUT, know that if you walk through the plaza, you will be stopped often and have long conversations that you really don’t have the time for. Life is too short to spend an exorbitant amount of time talking about things that you don’t actually care about.
You know. The thing where you keep walking, but you say something like, “oh, I’m sorry, but no.”
Hide in bushes.
Walk all the way to College and risk getting hit by traffic; go around the perimeter of campus and don’t step foot on the Plaza at all.
Okay, the reality is that you can’t completely avoid them. Your actual options are to treat people with kindness, but not let them bully you into missing your next class to sign a petition that you don’t know anything about. You have the freedom to ignore them or the freedom to embrace them. Find the strategy that fits you best. My reactions above served me well during my 4 years at CSU. Find yours!
Good luck and go with God, friends!