Editorial Cartoon: Christmas Pariah

Editorial Cartoon: Salvation Army - The Christmas Pariah

Every year in the United States, the charity organization Salvation Army has volunteers standing outside of grocery stores and retailers with a red kettle ringing their bell for patrons to donate.  Sometimes I give, sometimes I don’t.  There never is any rhyme or reason to when I do or don’t.

Last year I saw a client of mine out volunteering so I stood with her for ten minutes as she rang her bell.  I noticed a strange phenomenon.  Most of the people who made eye contact seemed to donate.  However the vast majority chose not to donate and in doing would look down or away as they walked past.  It was as if by looking at the volunteer as they went by they might get some sort of disease.  I got to thinking that I have probably been guilty of the same thing.

So this year, I made a pledge that no matter if I was planning to donate or not that I would acknowledge every single kettler (I don’t know what they are called so that works for me) and give them a cheery “hello” ….as I then walk on by.

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87 Responses to “Editorial Cartoon: Christmas Pariah”

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  1. Binky says:

    It’s much easier to ignore someone if you make out they’re not there. “What, I didn’t see them!”

  2. jynksie says:

    Those bell ringers freeze their asses off, I at least have been known to buy em a coffee. You can stare me down all you want, I do charity my way. =)

  3. Dustin says:

    Um… I don’t know the last time I carried around change, let along real dollars. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t mind spending with plastic. For some reason if I have cash, I always spend it on candy or something stupid.

  4. Jillsy Girl says:

    My experience with people who collect for charity is that if you acknowledge them they will immediately start up a conversation with you and then you feel REALLY BAD if you don’t donate!

  5. Dan says:

    The “kettlers” are using an old Jedi mind trick . . .

    Eye contact is a powerful thing. They say a jury that refuses to make eye contact with a defendant has convicted the defendant every time.

  6. Jande says:

    I’m with you Bearman, and with Jynxie too! I’ve been known to bring the bellringers a cup of cheer during the season (and I’ll tell you standing out in the snow ringing a fricken bell while people walk by with their heads down can get pretty cold in more ways than one, so hot cup of coffee can cheer you up pretty quick)I give a little to each one. It doesn’t cost much at a couple of quarters at a time and they do excellent social works that no one else will handle.

    The cartoon is really well done, Bearman!

  7. Tony says:

    I tend to avoid eye contact as I have the same problem with raffle ticket sellers & people standing at stalls in shopping centres trying to sell people stuff like cable TV contracts or other such high pressure selling products. As soon as you make eye contact they seem to make a bee line for you, or they do to me anyway.

    I will try the eye contact for a while & see how it goes, even if I have to tell them I am not going to donate, buy a raffle ticket or sign up for cable TV or a funeral plan. I will try to be more eye contactable & give them a nice smile & a hello. You have inspired me. I’ll let you know later how many cable TV channels I end up with…

  8. Friggin Loon says:

    I tend to avoid eye contact full stop. I hate it when I have to sign friggin autographs 🙂

  9. Walker says:

    I have to admit to doing the same thing. I feel guilty about not giving, even if I’ve already given. Never thought about getting the ‘ringer’ a cup of coffee….great idea.
    Thanks for nudging us to be a little more thoughtful

  10. Lynn says:

    I just read that the US Salvation Army works with nearly three billion dollars of donated funds every year and their CEO earns only $13,000. That can’t be right, can it?

  11. Bo Lumpkin says:

    The Salvation Army is about the only International relief organization that I trust completely. They help people on an every day basis and not just when the news cameras are rollin’. I don’t donate every time but I usually smile at them and tell them I appreciate the great job they are doin’.

    • Bearman says:

      I am sure they appreciate you noticing Bo.

    • Jande says:

      You can trust an organisation that earns an annual 3 billion and pays its CEO 13,000. That tells me it ain’t the money they’re doin it for.

      • Bearman says:

        I just read that is an urban legend.

        “The current National Commander, Israel L. Gaither, is paid somewhere between $79,389 and $243,248 annually for his services. (Since the Salvation Army, as a religious organization, doesn’t report its expenses to the IRS, the only available figures for executive salaries are estimates, which vary greatly from source to source.) “

  12. Mel says:

    I would look down because I felt guilty for not giving. I don’t think we should feel guilty though. I like your advise of making eye contact and treating the worker as a human and not a disease.

    PS: I usually only had a debit card on me so this made it impossible to give even when I wanted to.

  13. The Salvation Army is one of the few outfits that hang out in front of stores that I will actually give something to. Maybe it’s because seeing them always reminds me of the episode of “Friends” where Phoebe is out ringing a bell for them.

    [Scene: Monica and Rachel’s, Phoebe is complaining to Ross and Monica about the bucket.]

    Phoebe: Nobody! Nobody respects the bucket! You wouldn’t believe what people put in here! Look! (Hands it to Monica.) Okay, does this look like a garbage can to you?

    Monica: No.

    Phoebe: Does it look like an ashtray?

    Monica: No.

    Phoebe: Does it look like a urinal?

    Monica: Eww!! (Throws the bucket down.)

    Yes it isn’t Christmas until someone pees in Phoebe’s donations bucket.

    • Bearman says:

      At our grocery store they tend to have a bunch of those groups selling things to raise money. If it is a kids organization and a kid asks me I am more likely than if it is an adult. Except for the boy scouts. Sorry kids but $25 popcorn ain’t worth it. Take a lesson from the girl scouts. $5-7 for thin mints is OK by me.

      • George says:

        Most of the time, I see the parents out trying to sell the candy for the kids. I suppose they don’t want their kids just ponying up to strangers like that, but I don’t need a $2 candy bar, as I walk into the grocery store counting pennies for pork-based hot dogs.

        • Bearman says:

          I had a 5 year old come to my door. Mom was waiting at the bottom of the steps. She had her speech down better than I could at 2x her age selling dominos buddy cards. Guess what sucker pulled out his wallet.

  14. Tracy Ingram says:

    I think they are generally called Bell Ringers. I am guilty of not looking at them as well. And you are right it is a guilty thing. I generally don’t have much extra to give at the holidays but I do give throughout the year.

    • Bearman says:

      I don’t think anyone has to feel guilty about not giving. But if I am wearing a bright red shirt and ringing a bell, I sure as hell want people to notice..haha

  15. DadaHyena says:

    Another alternative is to just keep iPod buds in your ears and pretend not to hear (you don’t even need to own an iPod…just pretend you’re listening to something really loud).

    What pricks we are!

  16. MJ says:

    Yes, The Salvation Army practices Jedi Mind Tricks! Ha,ha,ha!

  17. George says:

    I’m guilty of not making eye contact with the Kettlers. I don’t want them to see the cheapskate in my eyes. I guess it stems from living in a town where you’re going to get hit up for change with some sob story or another at least four times a day. Guaranteed. After having countless people run up on you for money every time you get out of your car, it sorta makes you cynical about donating.

    I will, however, give if the feeling hits me. But when three more people ask for the same thing, it turns you back bitter again.

    Nice work on the cartoon, by the way!

    • Bearman says:

      I like the guy who always said he needed gas as his kids were in the car. I said “OMG, lets go get them so to make sure they are OK.” The would make a hasty retreat.

      • Bo Lumpkin says:

        I never give to individuals that I don’t know. How low does a person have to sink before he has to go to strangers for help? I believe that if I got in trouble I could pick up the phone and have help from hundreds of people before the end of the day. (I could email you Bearman and you being who you are and knowing me only from the internet would probably post my plight and try to get me some help.) I give to people like the Salvation Army where I know it will do some good.

  18. lisleman says:

    You are very right about trying to pretend to not notice the ringer. Sometimes when I drive into the city there will be beggars at intersections and I try not to look at them.

  19. bschooled says:

    Believe it or not, I was thinking the exact same thing the other day. I totally do the duck and dodge when I don’t have spare change. I have no idea why I do it, either.

    I’m trying to be more conscious of it, but it’s almost like it’s burned into my head that if I can’t see them, they can’t see me. Horrible, really.

    • Friggin Loon says:

      Hmm, so is ducking and dodging worse than saying you will give them money on the way back and then you go a different way? I have been guilty of that 🙁 … often 🙁 🙁

      • Bearman says:

        Usually I say to people selling stuff “Make sure to catch me on the way out” If they do, they get the sale. If they don’t…forget it.

  20. Everybody does that. It’s just pure guilt. It’s the same with the homeless people. If you actually make eye contact and acknowledge their humanity you are forced to donate.

    It’s why Girl Scout Cookies sell so well. They get you from the doorbell.

  21. nursemyra says:

    I always give my spare change to the Salvos. They do a lot of good work.

  22. Goeber says:

    This is so true. 🙂

  23. SpilledInkGuy says:

    Hmmm … I normally look down at the ground when I walk … does that mean I get some sort of pass on this one?! 🙂

  24. Denny’s won several stare down with those people.

    But don’t worry…I still make donations. Roughly 2x a month.

  25. George says:

    Thanks, Bearman. 🙁 I actually looked a Salvation Army Kettle-Ringer in the whites of their eyes, and it ended up costing me a dollar. I just couldn’t continue walking past them without donating. Oooh, that eye contact will get you every time. 🙂

  26. Nate Fakes says:

    I’ve been taking the side door out to avoid them. They give you quite the guilt trip by saying “Happy holidays” to you as I walk by without tossing in a dime.

  27. i just play the, “sorry, do you take debit card?” line

  28. RoboMonkey says:

    Since I generally shop with my debit card, I almost never have any cash on me for the Salvation Army, Girl Scouts, or anyone else seeking my money on the way out of the store. I wonder what kind of an impact cashless shopping has had on their donations/cookie sales/etc.?

  29. 25BAR says:

    Its that time of the year!

  30. I would reply…well when you check out have the cashier give you cash back and then you can put it in the kettle.

    • Bearman says:

      Smart move. Then again that would only work with a check or debit card. Isn’t cash back on a credit card considered a cash advance?

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