do you have a moment?

Have you ever gotten roped into talking to someone who was collecting donations for a nonprofit organization?

Sure you have. You were walking and he was standing in the middle of the sidewalk, grinning and holding a clipboard.

These people with the clipboards don’t come right out and ask you for money. Not at first, anyway. They always open with something like “Do you have a moment for the environment?” or “Do you have a moment to rescue a blind orphaned puppy from a burning building?”

It’s hard to say no, isn’t it? Hard enough that you sometimes cross the street to avoid the clipboard people altogether? Even though you know what they’re really asking is “Hey, will you give me some money?” and you don’t want to give them any, it’s still not easy to look an aggressively well-groomed stranger in the eye and say you do not have a moment to help remove landmines from central-African playgrounds.

Ten seconds ago, this guy was the jerk who interrupted your lunch break to ask you for your credit card number. Now you’re the jerk who hates children. See how quickly he turned it around? All he had to do was ask you the right question.