Constant barrage of fundraising is weakening my sensibilities
Please don’t hate me. But I’ve had it with being nickeled and dimed to the nth degree by unsolicited solicitors. Your know the ones. The exit-sellers. The ones that block the exits of every grocery and big box store on nights and weekends. They hail from one of a zillion groups geared toward raising money for this organization or the other: save the children, save the world, send me to camp, help me buy new sports equipment. You know the drill.
Some of them sell overpriced boxes of popcorn—or a dozen or so types of cookies that have somehow managed to shrink in size and taste, over the years. (There, I said it. Again I implore you: please don’t hate me.)
I give them credit for picking a prime location from which to operate. Waiting at the exits to prey on decision-fatigued shoppers is genius. Their cute little faces zero in on yours, making eye contact and speaking in thick Cockney accents. (OK, not really, but they might as well.)
“Please, Miss! Can you spare a quarter? I wouldn’t ask, but it’s for me mum, God rest her soul. Fell into a vat of marshmallow cream while trying to save these newborn kittens.”
Here kid. This is the last of it. Just take the money, ok?
I know what you’re probably thinking: “What did those cookies ever do to Beth?”
To which I say, let’s focus, people! It’s really not about the cookies or the popcorn or the “Free itty-bitty Tootsie Roll with Each Donation.”
These days, exit sales are but a tip on the iceberg. The nickel and diming can be found inside the store, as well: “Buy this bag of food to fight hunger,” and “buy that box of school supplies for the kids.” And then there’s the checkout lane, where I’m asked to donate to the store’s charity of choice. “Round up for this” “Add a dollar for that.”
And at this point, the Cockney cookie sellers are still on the other side of the door! You haven’t even made it to the hard sell, yet! (But first, this tip: always walk out with small groups of other shoppers. Blend in, then make your get-away while they stop for the sales pitch). Assuming you make it to the car with a lone dollar bill to spare, you have to gear up for the drive home, where panhandlers occupy every major street corner.
For me, it’s not about the giving, per se, but the spirit with which anything is given. In other words, giving (or buying) out of a sense of obligation kinda takes away the whole notion of charitable giving. Because (here I go again) I when I buy out of obligation, I tend to feel resentful, not charitable.
Maybe that’s why I like the Salvation Army. They set the high bar long ago, braving the elements as if they were delivering mail, standing over that big red kettle and ringing that little bell tirelessly. They greet shoppers with a smile and (sometimes) a song. What’s more, they never ask me for a donation or a purchase—and they always get one. (I told you I wasn’t a total Scrooge.)
So you see, it’s not that I lack a generous spirit, or that my philanthropic nature has been damaged. It’s simply that I’m feeling nickeled-and-dimed to my breaking point.
Or—here’s a novel idea—maybe I need to practice saying, “no thank you.”
Either way, at least for now, I’ll steer away from main entrances, opting to use the garden center entrance and exit when possible. I’ll stand around after checking out and wait for others to leave with, lest I spend all my money on popcorn, cookies and itty-bitty Tootsie Rolls. In which case, I could end up holding my fundraiser. You shouldn’t have any trouble finding me, though. I’ll be the one with the Cockney accent.