Saturday, November 20, 2010
Ring-a-ding-ding - welcome back, anxiety
The bell ringers are out, ring-a-linging on street corners and in front of store entrances. You've seen them, of course, volunteers bundled against the weather, smiling and hoping you'll drop a quarter or two for charity into their bucket or bin.
Here's a confession: When I hear those bells, I feel a twinge of anxiety. But let me explain, hence I sound like Ebenezer Scrooge before December even arrives. I have no problem with the bell ringers. I have no problem with charities.
It's not about money. It's about being equitable.
Maybe it comes from having two kids. You know, one kid gets a bedtime story, the other kid gets a bedtime story. One kid gets a chocolate chip cookie, the other kid gets a chocolate chip cookie. Everything is fair and equal. Everybody is happy. And it's pretty easy because there's only two kids.
But there's about a hundred bell ringers. So if I give a quarter to the ringer at Penney's, do I give a quarter to the ringer at Meijer's? And if I give a couple of dimes to the ringer at the Kroger, then should I give a couple of dimes to the ringer at the Bed, Bath and Beyond? I mean, fair is fair, right?
They all look like nice people. Half the time, they all look like they're freezing to death. (Not yet - I'm talking last year now). But I don't have that much change. And besides, I don't have that much money.
Now, I know, the bell ringers are not like my kids. Never once have I had one stomp a foot at me and say, "Hey! No fair! I heard you gave money at Kroger's! Where's mine??" But I still feel a little guilty, or like I should explain: "I can't give you any money, I'm sorry. But I gave the guy down the street two quarters, and yesterday, I gave the lady at Kroger three dimes ... I only have a quarter left and I need it for popcorn money tomorrow at school. Sorry."
That, course, would make me everyone uncomfortable. Which I realize. So I just shuffle by with a little smile and some guilt. And a little anxiety.
Maybe I'll should give them each a chocolate chip cookie and call it a day.