American Journey

Am I a Grinch if I don’t contribute to a charity at the cash register?

I finally got around to doing some Christmas shopping yesterday when I was confronted with a disturbing trend. The cashier asked me to contribute a dollar to charity. I first noticed this earlier in the year at the local supermarket. Depending on what disease was being hyped that month, I was asked to give to said disease. I think it’s annoying and just decline.

Yesterday I was buying a sweater at Jones New York. Just before the cashier rang up the final sale she looked me in the eye and asked, “Would you like to give a dollar to St. Jude’s?” I fired back with my immediate response to all such requests, a terse “no.” This cashier was not to be cowed. She returned my volley with an I assume to be guilt inducing, ‘But it’s for cancer.” “Look,” I replied, “I’m just trying to buy a sweater.”

At this point I noticed the ladies on line behind me ever so imperceptibly shuffling their feet so they could move further away. I could see the thought bubbles being formed over their heads, “Who was this heathen who didn’t care about cancer?”

Next I went to Ann Taylor. They upped the ante by having their staff wear pink ribbons around their neck to which were attached pictures of smiley faced toddlers whose hair was lost due to chemo. The kids were universally cute and heart-strings were universally tugged. I know, I know, cancer is serious stuff but sheez, I just wanted to buy a sweater without being made to feel guilty for doing so.  

The stores are not totally altruistic in this charitable endeavor. If you chip in the buck they give you a discount coupon to be used at a future date. In other words, they are using your charitable contribution to get you back in their store so you can spend more money there. I decided not to create a scene in the store so I will do so here instead.

Dear Store Owners,

When I spend my hard earned money at your establishment I am looking to do just that. I am not looking to cure cancer, end world hunger or save the panda’s native habitat. Those are all worthy goals I’m sure, but when I do contribute time and money to charity, as I do often throughout the year, I prefer it to be a charity and cause of my own choosing. Furthermore, I don’t want to be made to feel guilty about something, or treated as a pariah, merely because I chose to spend money in your fine store. I noticed that the people who just walk in, fondle your goods and leave are not subjected to this treatment. Here’s a suggestion, if you feel it is so important to give to these charities, why don’t you do so yourself? You can give one dollar from every purchase to the charity while reaping myriad public relations benefits.

Yours truly,

I Just Wanted To Buy A Sweater

So I ask you dear readers, am I a Grinch for just wanting to go shopping and not being coerced into giving to some charity at the same time?

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About Michael

This blog has a mix of some of my main interests in life: travel, politics, food and generally being a curmudgeon. Enjoy.

Discussion

10 thoughts on “Am I a Grinch if I don’t contribute to a charity at the cash register?

  1. Not at all! I agree with you completely! Sheesh. Enough of the panhandling at stores, people. Can we even be certain that our dollars are getting to the charity they’re drumming for? If they must do that, then put a jar somewhere away from the register and put a sign on it. No need to have that irritating discussion, though, I’m sure, the poor soul at the cash register was told by management to hawk the charity. Another thing I hate – when I go to Home Depot, the clerk always, always asks me if I want to use my Home Depot credit card. When I say, “No.” They always, always ask, “Do you want a Home Depot credit card?” I think I’m going to create a bunch of signs and wear them before I go shopping.

    Posted by Snoring Dog Studio | December 23, 2010, 8:45 am
    • Hah, I like the sign idea. I might do that. Years ago there was a store that gave out buttons that said “Just looking”. You put it on and the salespeople wouldn’t bother you when you walked around the store. Of course the store probably went out of business.

      Posted by Thomas | December 23, 2010, 12:08 pm
  2. Of course you’re a Grinch! We bloggers bask in our grinchiness.

    Yesterday I made my last purchase at a local department store. Long line but there were four register stations running which appeared to be a good thing at first. But things didn’t seem to be moving as fast they should have. I found out why when it was my turn. Did I want a charge account. “If I signed up now”, I could have an immediate discount on my purchases and a discount coupon for the next week.

    (It actually was a good deal and although I usually – like you describe – just say no I just want to buy this thing dammit – this time I went ahead.}

    And on one of hteir biggest sales days of the years, they slowed down the traffic and surely some discouraged shoppers put their stuff down and just left.

    Posted by Moe | December 23, 2010, 10:59 am
  3. Bah humbug, or is that Scrooge?

    Posted by Jean | December 24, 2010, 3:21 am
  4. Hi,
    I read Moe’s blog regularly and I found you from her. Thanks, I never give either. Call me apathetic, it is true, but being in the medical field has taught me a very valuable lesson, and that is everybody dies, and if it isn’t something else that kills us first, it will eventually be cancer. Immortality is the only cure for cancer.

    Posted by shortbuswonderkid | December 24, 2010, 6:31 pm
  5. Same principle: companies asking their employees to give to a cause… so the companies can look generous.

    Charity is a personal, intimate, spontaneous gesture.

    Posted by jean-philippe | December 26, 2010, 12:56 pm
  6. Charity should be personal, not manufactured. That said, I always hope that maybe people who wouldn’t normally give will be “in the moment” at the supermarket or wherever. Virgin Air collects loose change for needy people around the world at the end of their flights. I always give.

    Posted by lifeintheboomerlane | December 27, 2010, 2:53 pm

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