Pet Please #40: No Salvation Army

Yesterday I was about to walk out of the grocery store when I felt myself tensing up. Here we go, I thought. Time to avoid eye contact with the Salvation Army guy.

Then I walked outside, and the space outside of the store was empty. No red bucket. No bell. No guy. He’s done for the year.

It was a wonderful feeling. I felt like a weight had been removed from my shoulders.

I have nothing against the Salvation Army as an organization. They do good things. But, let’s be honest–they pander. They’re right there outside of the grocery store where you’ve filled your bags with groceries because you can afford it, and if you walk right by, you feel guilty. And if you decide to give something, can you honestly tell me that you feel good about the gift because it’s going to go help someone in need? Or is your feeling one of relief? A feeling of, “I don’t have to feel bad for just walking past this guy today because I dropped 57 cents in the bucket”?

Why do we give social permission to the Salvation Army to set up shop in grocery store alcoves? How would you feel if 10 other charities joined the Salvation Army guy on the front stoop? What if every charity you give to decided to ask you for money not in an annual letter, but in person all December long at the place where you buy food?

This type of pandering is antiquated. Every once in a while I’m going through the checkout line at the grocery store and the cashier asks me if I’d like to add a dollar to my total to go towards some cause. I always say yes. It’s just a dollar, and it’s added seamlessly to my credit card bill. I think the Salvation Army should adopt this model throughout December every year. In a time when fewer and fewer people have loose change jingling around in their pockets after buying groceries, I’d wager that the Salvation Army would make a lot more money that way.

For now, I’m looking forward to the next 11 months, Salvation-Army free.

10 thoughts on “Pet Please #40: No Salvation Army”

  1. I also dread walking past anyone who might want money from me. I usually pretend to be intensely looking at my phone for something or reviewing my grocery list so they think I just don’t notice them at all. When leaving the store, I sometimes try to make my bags seem as cumbersome as possible. Quite frankly, I don’t even like when Girl Scouts sell cookies outside of the grocery store.

    • Wouldn’t you know it! I was actually approached by a coworker today trying to sell Girl Scout cookies for her daughter. She had some sob story about her daughter getting some prize if she sold enough cookies. I angrily shouted, “You’re encouraging her to pawn her problems and duties off on others! If your daughter wants to peddle this trash, tell her to get off her Wii-playing, Justin Bieber-loving ass and do it herself! This is how young people end up on the streets, selling drugs or trading sex for money! They’re so accustomed to other people doing things for them that they can only see the easiest money as the right money, and that’s when that Girl Scout uniform gets used for something other than a place to display knitting badges! You should tear up that order form, throw it in your daughter’s face, and buy a pair of bootstraps that she can use to pull herself up with! Tell her to sell her own damn cookies, and you tell her not to do it in front of the Schnuck’s on Hampton Avenue!”

      By this point a small crowd had gathered. I seethed and pointed a stern finger as my coworker shrank into a tiny ball and walked away. The crowd dispersed, some of them muttering under their breath. I can only imagine that they were muttering about how right I was.

        • I think the Girl Scouts’ motto should be changed to:

          “This is how young people end up on the streets, selling drugs or trading sex for money!”

          That’s a hilarious rant. Please also mention the Schnuck’s in Richmond Heights.

          Also, I actually like when people approach me at work (in person or via e-mail) asking me to buy Girl Scout Cookies. For years I went without anyone approaching me, and I went cookie-less. Now I have my sources.

    • I agree–pandering is pandering. If I want to find new readers for my blog, I don’t stand outside your favorite restaurant and try to talk to you while you walk to your car. It’s rude.

  2. If I see the Salvation Army bell-ringers, the firemen for the MDA Telethon, or the people selling tootsie rolls, I usually give a donation once. The problem that I encounter is when I see them multiple times (whether it’s the same bell-ringer on my way into and out of the grocery store during the same grocery trip, or different firemen at all the different intersections on my way to and from work), and then I feel guilty if I don’t give to every person that I see. I know that I’ve already given, but I still feel badly if I don’t give at that particular moment (even if it’s the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th time for that charity). This goes mostly for the firemen helping MDA. I don’t like the thought of them thinking that I’m rude and selfish for just driving by and not giving a donation. But, I guess all we can do is realize that we HAVE helped the cause, and be happy with what we have already done or given.

  3. Haven’t we had a post like this before? Something like “How to deal with people asking you for money and wasting your time on the corner telling you about green peace and consequently making you miss your bus”? Or does that just happen to me? Sigh. I don’t want to think about this. Well, it’s rainy and chilly tonight, so not too many people should be out!

    OH! And I thought of you the other day–there was a “pregnant” homeless chick with a sign, and it reminded me of the perennial pregnant dweller in St Louis someone mentioned in your comments once!

    • Yes, I’ve written about homeless people asking for money in the past, but not charities.

      You know, I suspected that woman of not being pregnant (it seemed like she was pregnant for about 26 months), but I haven’t seen her in a while. Maybe she really was pregnant!


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