Woman changes careers after learning sidewalk canvassers stationed outside office

Everything was going according to plan until one day, while walking back from her coffee break, Olson noticed people with clipboards stationed outside of her office.

TORONTO, ON—When Steph Olson, 27, first landed her dream job working for TIFF, she was thrilled and thankful.

"So many people I went to film school with had a really difficult time finding employment in the field after graduation, but I got very lucky," she explains.

Everything was going according to plan until one day, while walking back from her coffee break, Olson noticed a few people with pink smocks and clipboards stationed outside of her office. "I knew right away they were street canvassers, so initially I just tried to avert my eyes and quicken my pace. But then the one guy asked me how I was doing eight times in three seconds, and the other started waving his hands and a photo of a melting glacier in my face while grinning enthusiastically. I knew right then and there I'd have to find a new job."

When pressed, Olson admitted she had not exhausted all of the go-to canvasser avoidance techniques but felt that accepting defeat right away gave her more time to look for new employment.

"Look, I used to work near the Eaton Centre, and no matter what I did, I couldn't escape them. Every. Single. Day. They are ruthless. I'd put on my huge headphones and they'd start doing the cha-cha and ask what I was listening to. I'd cross the street and they'd flag a cab and cut me off a block up. I once got knocked down by one who was rocket launching 'I Heart Women's Reproductive Rights' t-shirts at every passer-by who tried to sidestep him."

Olson bravely went on to relay in harrowing detail how she once made the grave mistake of engaging in a brief interaction with a canvasser from a local humanitarian aid foundation. She says she still hasn't recovered.

"I consider myself a pretty good person — I volunteer, I donate to a few organizations a year and I'm a pretty socially conscious human being. I just want to be able to get my lunch without being hunted down by 14 perpetually grinning college students who systematically station themselves in terrifyingly restrictive staggered sidewalk formations and remind me how many cleft palates could be repaired if I gave up my daily latte."

Olson continues, "The fact remains that these no-good good-samaritan-catcalling-charity-harassing-saving-the-earth-swindlers shame me every day and I had to take a stand for myself."

Olson says that she attempted to enrol in the witness protection program and even considered applying to the Mars One mission, but knew she could enjoy more immediate relief by simply giving up her career and starting fresh in a new place (whose name she will not disclose for fear of the canvassers tracking her down).

Even given all the upheaval, Olson insists she has made peace with her decision.

"Am I bitter that those guilt-mongering donation fairies were able to get under my skin so effectively that I had to turn my life upside down just to be able to handle waking up in the morning? Sure. But, do I sleep better at night knowing that I never have to give those canvassers the satisfaction of allowing me to help even one impoverished child or species on the brink of extinction species? Absolutely."

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Cara Connors, a native Chicagoan turned Canadian, is a stand-up comedian, actor, improviser, and writer.