Miller Monday – A Dickens-esque Moment in the OC

December 19, 2007 at 11:11 am 9 comments

Just down the street is a conveniently located supermarket which I frequent on occasion. Due to some recent illness in the family I have frequented this supermarket more frequently than I would have frequently thought possible. For some strange reason this supermarket felt it would be a step in the right direction to allow the Salvation Army to come and ring their little bells and beg for money to every patron passing by their window. Now I try to be a generous person. I donate over 10% of my income to charitable organizations. But there is something about this Salvation Army collections facilitator that rubs me the wrong way.

First of all, he is homeless. This isn’t hard to miss. His clothes are tattered. His hair is unkempt. He smells bad. He is disheveled and dirty. Maybe it’s the little devil on my shoulder but I have a hard time putting money in that bucket knowing good and well that Homeless Harry can just take it out and walk into the supermarket and put it all on a six-pack. Plus, he’s probably thinking, “Well, they are donating to the poor and needy. Who’s more poor and needy than me?” If I did feel a need to donate I would like to give the money to a third party to divvy it up. Plus he smells so bad, how could I possibly trust someone who doesn’t understand the basics of shampoo and deodorant?

Second, he resorts to guilt to get you to donate. The first time I saw him there I tried to do the respectable thing and lower my head to pretend I never saw him. Would he allow me to keep my dignity? No, he gave out a boisterous, “Merry Christmas.” Maybe it’s just me, but I never like to perform any action while motivated by guilt. I find it bad practice. If I feel like contributing, I will. But now that you have attempted to pray on my guilt while at the same time publicly humiliating me for not tossing in my 35 cents you have secured my wrath.

Two days ago I had to go back to the supermarket. I snuck in practically unnoticed, secured my goods, and made my way for the exit. On the way out the door I made sure that Salvation Army Lieutenant Dan saw me as I walked straight past him with a big smile on my face. I knew exactly what card he would play and I waited for it, “Merry Christmas,”he churned in a most fraudulent tone.   I then turned around and exclaimed in my best Charles Dickens, “And a very Merry Christmas to you too Governor. God bless us, everyone!” I was smiling from ear to ear on the way back home.

It seems that for the past few years I have been trying to recapture that innocent Christmas magic that I used to feel when I was younger. You remember that feeling when you race down the stairs from your bedroom anxious to see what good old St. Nick had left for you under the tree? I thought that feeling had permanently left me and that I would never feel it ever again. I was wrong. Trust me, I never thought that spurning a homeless person would ignite the same type of holiday cheer that I experienced as a small child. But it did. It was as if Christmas came early this year for a poor boy from Laguna Hills.


Joe Miller


Entry filed under: Miller Monday.

We all have crow’s feet. Who he is

9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. lowdogg  |  December 19, 2007 at 4:45 pm

    I rang the bell this year for an hour for my Rotary Club. It was actually pretty fun. I hated it when people walked by without making eye contact. Don’t want to give? No big deal, but at least look me in the eye.

    And our kettle had a lock on it, therefore no way to pilfer funds, even if I wanted to.

  • 2. Joey  |  December 19, 2007 at 8:02 pm

    I’ve always wondered who the people who ring bells are. I try always to make mental notes of their facial characteristics in case they should try to attack me with their bells.

  • 3. lowdogg  |  December 19, 2007 at 9:21 pm

    They used to all be volunteers, but now Salvation Army has to hire people. I don’t think they attract the best talent.

  • 4. jdon  |  December 19, 2007 at 10:00 pm

    I find their hiring criteria to be something below par.

  • 5. Sportsattitude  |  December 20, 2007 at 10:42 am

    I’ve always responded more kindly (and generously) to those looking for donations who…just…stand there. Being blessed with sight, I can see you standing there. Being blessed with a brain not yet ravaged by time, I can see why you’re standing there. Let me make the call on whether or not the wallet comes out and if it does a simple “thank you” will get an equally toned “you’re welcome”…and we part company enjoying our mutually beneficial transaction. I am a tad distraught over the IRF evaluation of Salvation Army talent. Aren’t they the next to be called into active duty since we’ve used up the National Guard?

  • 6. Jdon  |  December 20, 2007 at 10:50 am

    Sportsattitude, let us pray that the Salvation Army is not our last line of defense. For I fear that there isnt an army on earth who could not figure out that all it would take for them to turn on us good tax paying citizens is about a dollar and a quarter.

  • 7. pammyshep  |  December 20, 2007 at 11:02 pm

    While I have no problem dropping in a few coins during the Christmas season, the Salvation Army showed up at my local Wal-Mart the day after Halloween.

  • 8. Lindsay  |  December 20, 2007 at 11:21 pm

    I’m glad you brought up your gifted senses, Sportsattitude. And being blessed with hearing, I can hear the dang bell without the verbal solicitation!!!

  • 9. Sportsattitude  |  December 21, 2007 at 3:05 pm

    Pammyshep, those folks at the Wal-Mart on November 1st may have been Halloween party animals who went out dressed up as Salvation Army workers and decided to have a little fun while sobering up thereafter. Oh well…a donation is a donation I guess.


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