Hugger Muggers force Auckland city pedestrians to run the gauntlet

Family visited us at our Auckland apartment on Sunday and we went out for a walk together. The Colin Craig case has forced us to discover the joys of apartment living through Air BnB. After a disappointing lunch at a gloomy cafe we made our way towards the waterfront in search of some sun.

It is very cold and dark amongst the buildings and until my family visited I felt no desire to leave the apartment to explore the city streets. It may be this depressing and dark environment that motivated the Hugger Muggers that accosted us as we attempted to reach the waterfront.

Cheerful Hugger Mugger heading my way
PHOTO Whaleoil

Dressed in bright yellow T-shirts and holding up FREE HUGS signs they were literally dancing with joy and eager to spread the love.

My first reaction was to warn my parents and children that there were bound to be cameras somewhere filming the stunt. My second reaction was to look for an alternative route. The Hugger Muggers, however, were fiendishly cunning and had selected a narrow bottleneck created by some road works. The only way to avoid running the gauntlet was to go a whole street out of our way. We were going to have to risk being mugged.

Hugger Mugger Alley
PHOTO Whaleoil

My Father was the first to be accosted by an irritatingly cheerful young woman. She opened her arms wide and offered him a hug. Dad politely replied that he only hugged one woman and he and Mum then made their escape. Next, I and Miss and Master Whaleoil had to make it through. I decided to use the same tactic I use when avoiding people collecting for their local sports team outside The Warehouse. I put my head down and moved forward. It didn’t work.

I heard a voice offering me a hug and I had to look up and acknowledge the person offering it. I smiled at them. ” No thank you,” I said politely and kept moving forward. ” High five!” they said enthusiastically moving ever closer. I considered explaining to them the origin of the high five but then thought tbetter of it and keep moving forward. They looked sad and disappointed. I clearly was the Grinch who stole Christmas. I looked over my shoulder to see if my kids had made it through. They had split up and flanked the person addressing me so made it to the other side before I did.

By the time we returned from our walk along the waterfront I was hoping they would have run out of puff but they were still there and there was still only one way to make it home again. We needed a new strategy. I instructed my daughter to take photos and while one cheerful young man headed in her direction arms outstretched the rest of us made our escape. Miss Whaleoil sacrificed herself for the rest of us and as I looked back I could see the realisation on her face that she might not make it to the other side unscathed.

In slow motion I watched her side step the hug and with nimble strides make it past their HQ. I imagined crowds of introverts cheering as she managed to maintain her personal body space and make it to the other side.

Hugger Mugger HQ- PHOTO Whaleoil


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