Clipboard Hell

I have discovered a previously unknown level of hell. It does not appear in any religious text or scroll but that does not make it any less real. It just so happens to occupy a small area of Amsterdam. If you have ever walked along the Leidsestraat you might know it well. It only takes up a small 50 x 200 meter patch of land but it is filled with such torturous evil that no innocent person should know.

I am talking about the area outside my office that seems to contain every survey taker, subscription seller and (dare I say it) charity collector that hell rejected.

Everyday I have to walk through this swarm of aggressive clipboard holders as I try to escape to the nearest tram stop or collect lunch supplies from the local supermarket. Everyday they try to stop me and ask the same question.

“Can I ask you a question?”

It’s enough to drive anyone insane. I’ve long learned that simply telling them I don’t speak Dutch does not do any good either. However, I have finally come up with a solution, a new strategy. When they next ask me again I am going to come up with a completely random reply to what that question could have been. I will then be able to make my get away while they try to work out what just happened.

I have already come up with several answers for the next time they ask, “Can I ask you a question?”

– “The answer you seek is; 42.”

– “Yes, it’s true. I really did shoot a man in Rio just to watch him die.”

– “Sure. Picard was a much better captain but Kirk was a much better singer.”

– “No, Sorry. It would never work between us baby.” (This is double confusing for the clipboard holder if they are also a guy)

– “No. I will not write you into my will.”

– “Ok. You can have an autograph but I was hoping no one would recognize me.”

– “No. I’m not going to help you cheat on your test. Answer the questions yourself.”

– “No. My lawyer has advised me not to answer any questions.”

16 responses to “Clipboard Hell”

  1. Nicole says:

    Oh, the clipboard people are so annoying. And you’re right — “I don’t speak Dutch” doesn’t work. They then hassle you in English. Although I have found some happy to have a short chat in Dutch about why you don’t speak Dutch and then they let you go. But I try not to make eye contact and if I accidentally do, just say “sorry, nee” and keep walking. You’ll need to do an update on how your responses go down: which is the best? :)

  2. Quack of Doom says:

    The best way to avoid them is a big headphone :) But i found out that most of the times i’m not their target group. Made me feel rejected by society :(

    P.S. just splitting hairs here but most men shoot men in Reno to watch them die ;)

  3. Tanya says:

    The best thing to do is tell them that you’re a tourist! I learned this after many annoying encounters with the clipboard mafia as I didn’t want to be perceived as the meanie who wouldn’t donate to blind orphans.
    When they believe you’re a tourist and you don’t have a Dutch bank account, there’s nothing that you can do for them so they let you go on your merry way.

  4. Anneke says:

    :D They always try to tackle from behind, at the trainstation. But I always say that I have a train to catch, or a bus, or whatever. I don’t have any time. And usually they leave me alone after that. I am thinking about adopting your lines though. I’d love to confuse them!

  5. zed says:

    Gah, those people annoy me too. You could also try: “You tried that chat-up line last night and I made it very clear that the answer is NO.”

  6. Dragonlady says:

    I would’t have the nerve but I can really imagine you trying out some of your answers,I really like your last answer about the lawyer. Please try it and see what happens.

  7. Bemused says:

    Oh please try them all and report back! I used to get harassed 3x a day by a charity pen seller. Mild mannered me came so close to threatening violence with one of her pens one day. She finally got the hint.

  8. Ana Luisa says:

    You can always pretend you’re deaf AND mute… (It’s awful, I know, but a friend has done that and I don’t think we’ve ever laughed so hard!)

  9. Louana says:

    I love your blog! It keeps me updated on the little things from back home, like the clipboard people or the Albert Heijn Bonuskaart and much more. And your writing is very funny but your cartoons are the best part of this blog!

  10. Grumpy Old Git says:

    What is the matter with you? The best and only is to say “F**K OFF!”.

    Job done.

  11. suus says:

    What I always have wanted to do, is when they say: ‘do you want a free newspaper?’ (but then you get it for ‘free’ only when you subscribe), to just say yeah and snitch it and run. That would be just utterly amazing and stunning, wouldn’t it be? I could never do such a thing though. Plus, I don’t read newspapers. ‘Cause they smell sour.

  12. sophie says:

    Haha!! Yes, you are right they are hateful. What I do is to make an absolute face of silly that does not understand whether Dutch, whether any single piece of the world. It normally works! :-)

  13. Invader Stu says:

    Nicole – I think they have all gone into hiding. I’ve not seen any since writing this.

    Quack of Doom – I think it does not work on the Dutch. They just wave their arms to get your attention.

    Tanya – It just shows that they only want us for our bank accounts :p

    Anneke – Let me know if they work for you as well :)

    zed – I’ll try that one.

    Dragonlady – I’ll let you know.

    Bemused – That would have been interesting to see.

    Ana Luisa – Knowing my luck one of them would know sign language. Then I would have to pretend to be blind as well :p

    Louana – Thanks.

    Grumpy Old Git – I’m too polite for that.

    suus – It would take them by surprise.

    sophie – I’ll have to try that too. Remember when I pointed out that space on the bridge and said you would know what I was talking about when you read this post? that was it.

  14. sophie says:

    yes, I remembered :-)

  15. Tess says:

    You never told me you’re into Johnny Cash? :p
    We’ll have another thing to discuss over sushi, when you’re back in the UK ;)

  16. Floroskop says:

    I think this try.

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