As I stepped off the bus at Wynyard station this morning, I realised I had made a terrible mistake. Having taken my jacket off on the bus, my attention was now fully focused on re-arranging my jacket/bag set up – which meant removing my iPod earphones. Which was when they pounced.
An entire flock of cold-calling charity workers attacked immediately, and I had not been following the three rules of Wynyard Protocol:
1. Avoid eye contact at all costs – must wear sunglasses or pretend to be blind.
2. Do not pay the charity workers any attention – pretending to text on a phone is ideal.
3. Don’t let them try to capture your attention – an iPod ensures that you can’t hear what they are saying, and they KNOW you can’t hear.
As the first worker approached my unprotected ears, I knew I had to act fast – I quickly opened my bag as though looking for a document, while desperately reaching for my earphones.
However this was only the scout – a whole company of smiling assasins still awaited me. I continued scrambling for ear-to-earphone contact, my face a mask of pure white fear. I knew I didn’t have enough time, despite the name my new “in-ear” earphones were very much the opposite; so I braced for impact.
Worker: “Hi, how are you going today? I’m from…”
*OUTSTRETCHED HAND, WAITING FOR HANDSHAKE*
Me: “Hi, sorry, I’m going to work”
*Scramble Scramble Scramble*
Worker (oblivious to my fend): “What we are trying to do is achieve sustainable…”
However I didn’t hear the rest of what she had to say. Luckily my new CX300 earphones saved me with what I thought was an appropriate song – Muse’s “Citizen Erased”.
While the moral of this story may seem like “Never leave home without your iPod”, this anecdote seeks to address a real issue prevalent in modern society: the bastardisation of the handshake.
Traditionally the handshake was used between two parties as a sign of peace and trust – with no sword in your right hand, you cannot attack the other. In contemporary society, the handshake is used as a social ritual. It can be a sign of politeness when meeting someone for the first time, a reaffirmation of the relationship between friends, or even a mutual celebration and emotional connection.
So powerful is the act, that to refuse to return an offered hand is an affront and insult. And this is what charities know and attempt to exploit.
These charities are trying to leverage trust and tradition, built into the act of the handshake over the last two millenia, for their own monetary gain. Regardless of their intentions this cannot be accepted. With so much disagreement, cynicism and uncertainty in the world, the institution of the handshake is one of the last bastions of hope and happiness which we can rely on.