I went grocery shopping today. It had been about two weeks and I was doing my best to live off of what I had still in the apartment since I went to Ralph’s last week and spent a huge amount of money even though it seemed like I bought the same amount of stuff. So I went to my beloved Trader Joe’s. I seriously love Trader Joe’s. In a way that is neither healthy nor rational. No, they don’t have everything I need or want, but they have most of what I want and it’s cheap and it’s tasty. So, I was flying pretty high. I got my beloved shaved brussels sprouts and Two Buck Chuck and I was ready to head home, put everything in the fridge or freezer and make myself some good ole lunch.
I pay, get my bags into my cart, and head to the door. That’s when I see them. Two unassuming women who are quite literally barricading the way to my car. In order to understand just how much of an obstacle they were creating, you have to understand that this is a small Trader Joe’s with an even smaller parking lot that is long, not wide, so I definitely could not avoid these women. One of the women was engaged in conversation with another woman so it was just me and this younger woman, probably about 26 or so. I am not one to shy away from conversation, so I responded to her, and also I genuinely feel bad for people who have to sit outside and try to talk to people and people are always rude and just blow them off. So, she approaches me, asks my name, gives me hers (Which is Jordan, in case you’re reading, Greenpeace. Burbank, CA Trader Joe’s around 12:30), and simply asks “Hey, do you like animals?”. Yep, I do, and I tell her so–that warranted me a high five so I was pretty excited about this conversation at this point. She tells me she is from Greenpeace, asks if I’ve heard of them, and then dares to ask if I like Greenpeace. It was very clear that if I said I didn’t like Greenpeace, she would quickly go on the defensive. This is not to say that I don’t like Greenpeace, or even that I do, but asking if I like her organization should not be relevant to this conversation. She goes into detail about how we only have 17% of the world’s rainforest today (see, I was listening) and how corporations like Nestle are constantly depleting the rainforest more and more every year. Then she asks me, “Do you believe in the power of people?” and I say yes because I do and also mostly because I knew that’s what she wanted to hear. I got another high five. Here’s where we take a little turn. She says, “Awesome, so did people like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi, so we’re in good company!” Uh, Jordan, honey, while I kind of understand what you mean by this, you and I are not Martin Luther King, Jr. or Gandhi and any saleswoman comparing herself to either of those men might want to start a little smaller. Just in general, she was asking me to act in a very personal way but asking using tactics on a really large scale. Nothing was really adding up. She tells me that in order to keep rainforest deforestation at bay, she and like minded people need to band together to stop this. We’re at about three minutes into the conversation at this point (Maybe shorten up that pitch, Greenpeace) and she tells me that I need to join Greenpeace in order to make a difference. Look, I’m going to be honest and say I had no plans to join Greenpeace at the start of this conversation, but I was not opposed to it. Now I am. I did not in any way appreciate her pushy nature–you’ll notice I mention I’ve spoken about twice in this conversation at this point and we’re about three minutes in. If you want to start a conversation about saving the rainforest, maybe don’t make it one-sided. So we’re at the end of her pitch and it’s her time to ask if I’ll officially join Greenpeace–something I was expecting, but my response did not get the response I had ever expected.
I say to Jordan, “I really appreciate you talking with me, but I think I’ll pass at this point in time. I’m happy to look into it further, though, and get some more information. I really have to get my groceries home, now, though.” I felt I was fair, non-threatening, and clear in my decision not to join Greenpeace at this point.
Jordan responds, “Well, that’s the thing, we can’t even wait two seconds for you to join since the rainforest is being destroyed right at this minute. If you wait to join, it really won’t be effective.”
I’m sorry, what? I responded with something along the lines of I will take the time to educate myself about this issue and make a more educated decision about if Greenpeace is an organization I feel my time and talents could help. She was essentially shaming me for not being able to sign up right at that second. Also, she was basically telling me I was a bad person if I joined at a later time because that means I would be personally responsible for the parts of the rainforest destroyed in the time it took me to make a confident and well-thought out decision.
I was so mad. Not only that this woman I’d just met was shaming me, but that even I could have sold someone on Greenpeace better than this woman. I simply said, “Well, I’m sorry, but I just can’t commit to it right now.” and walked away.
Hey, Greenpeace, everything you stand for and the abridged version of what you do is great, but your tactics aren’t. If you’re really trying to make an impact on the world, start a conversation, do not force people into a decision that is made with such little information that you promote the ignorance of your members and those trying to persuade me to become a member. If I had become a member of Greenpeace, I would easily be the least informed member of Greenpeace, and what really gets me is that I fear that Jordan, and the other woman there, along with hundreds of other Greenpeace members became members after short conversations like mine without researching for themselves the real issues that Greenpeace is trying to confront or for what they stand.
You have the power to educate, Greenpeace, and instead you chose to shame and lecture me. Count me out next time you want to talk.