I’m really very charitable…really!

charityI refused to help homeless children, and I’m totally okay with it…..really….maybe.

Okay, let me qualify.  I do believe in giving back for those rich gifts that have been given to me.  I really do.  I’m all about paying it forward, sharing my time, talent and treasures – all that good sharing of God’s gifts kind of stuff.  Maybe not as much as I should, but I do what I can.

But there has to be a limit to saying ‘yes’ to every handout, right?  Those kids at the door with chocolate covered almonds, or the skip-a-thon, or whatever.  They’re endless!  You have to pick and choose carefully, or you’ll go broke and become one of the charities yourself.

It’s tough!  Guilt is a great motivator, and a lot of charities leverage it perfectly.  Send kids. How do you say ‘No’ to a little kid?  Add in some tasty treat that you’re craving, and you can’t resist it.  You reach into your pocket and hand them $5 bucks for a bland piece of candy you could have bought for $1.

So, you’re pressured to help others (guilt), add in some tasty treat (temptation), and sell it through the eyes of a cute, innocent little kid and you’re doomed!  It’s the trifecta of sales tactics.  You can’t resist it.  About the only other thing they could do is be holding a puppy at the time.

There’s a commercial out right now where a little girl is trying to sell donuts door-to-door.  donuts With a syrupy-sweet voice, she stands like Vanna White, showing off the doughy goodness while batting her cute little eyes and says; ‘Donuts?’.  The lady manages to resist the temptation, thanks to a low-calorie cereal bar….yeah, like that’ll work in real life.

My wife loves this commercial.  Not because of the product they’re selling, but she uses the same ‘Donuts?’ voice on me when she wants something or wants me to have a snack with her.  Apparently, it’s not bad to sneak a snack if someone else does it with you.

A few years ago, I was walking out of a store after buying some adult beverages for a dinner party we were hosting.  As usual, some kid had set up shop outside, and was hitting people up to buy a chocolate bar or something so he could do whatever he was trying to do – I don’t even remember what it was.  I said, ‘No thanks’, and walked away.  Just then, the little kid dropped his head down in rejection and muttered;

“I’ve been standing here all day and no one has bought one”….CRAP!

As I ate the stupid chocolate bar on the way home, I wondered if that was one of his lines to make a sale.  I may never know, but I gotta say that it was effective.

I decided a while ago that I would no longer succumb to the door-to-door pitch whenever possible, mostly because I think it’s a lousy way to get a kid to go on a school trip or pay for a hockey tournament.  I also did it because I have to, like most of us, watch my budget.

I have a couple of standard lines I use:  ‘sorry, I don’t have any cash on me right now’, or my favourite; ‘I have a nut allergy’, while standing recoiled behind the door like some vampire being shown garlic.

Usually, I don’t even answer the door any more.  How sad is that?

But you can’t escape them for long.  I was standing at the checkout at the grocery store the other day, with hundreds of dollars in extravagant items – steak, seafood, my favourite potato chips.  Even a decadent dessert that I clearly could live without,  and the cashier asked the dreaded question:

“Would you like to give $2 to help homeless children?”

What do you do?  How do you, standing there with an audience of shoppers silently judging your goodwill, put your foot down and refuse such dastardly trickery?

The ethical and social pressure is immense.  And no one wants to hear your excuses, either.  They just want you to pay up and get your groceries off the belt.

I didn’t have a need to say ‘yes’.  I should feel no guilt, no shame in deciding that what I do regularly is good enough, so I replied, quietly and with no eye contact, ‘Not today’.

So, why do I feel so guilty?  I even wrote this blog, trying to clear my conscience.

Please tell me that I’m not a bad person for not giving $2 to homeless children.  That sounds bad, doesn’t it?


The office clown

I don’t know why there isn’t more fun in the workplace.

Not smiling, suppressing laughs, and being all business around the cubicles seems to be the rule these days.  No wonder no one seems to like going to work.

It’s not like enjoying yourself at work is a productivity drain or anything.  Heck, I’ll bet that if folks had more fun at work, they might even put in longer hours.  Instead, they stand at the old time clock with their coats on, waiting for the minute hand to hit 12.

I was talking to a friend about having more fun at work, and I jokingly (sort of) suggested that they wear a clown outfit to work next week.

Think of the positive distraction that would be for the dismal, grey office environment, when your coworker shows up in a wild coloured costume, red nose, curly yellow hair, and those huge red shoes.

Unfortunately, not many of us are brave enough to try to pull off a stunt like that, but I’m not so sure it would be job-ending.

With all the political correctness and employee engagement ‘group hug’ police we call Human Resources, I’ll bet you’d actually get away with it altogether.

In fact, the longer you lounge around the office in the clown outfit, the more legitimate it becomes.  Maybe, it would even fall under one of those sacred cow categories, like a ‘lifestyle choice’ or ‘religion’.

I can just imagine the conversation your boss might be having with HR…

“Hello, Bob.  My, your shirt and tie look appropriate for the workplace, by which I am in no way implying any type of inappropriate or sexual comment on your wardrobe”

“Gee, thanks, Lisa…I think.  I’ve come to complain about Becky, who now insists I refer to her as Binky”.

“What seems to be the problem with ‘Binky’, Bob?  She shows up for work on time every day, which, considering those huge shoes she wears, is quite an accomplishment, and she has had top-notch performance reviews.  She even signs them with a big orange smiley-face stamp.  It’s very unique”.

“That’s just the problem, Lisa.  I can’t have a clown in my department – all the other supervisors are laughing at me!”

“Now Bob, we here at Catatonic Distributing don’t take kindly to discriminatory comments about those who are different than us. I have to write up an intolerance conduct report on you”.


“We take these things very seriously here, Bob.  Everyone, regardless of race, age, creed, sexual orientation, or circus attire choice is to be treated as an equal here”.

“But she answers all incoming calls by honking one of those old bike horns.  It’s very frustrating to our customers and the coworkers.”

“You see Bob?  That’s exactly your problem.  Instead of focusing on the special uniqueness of Binky, you lash out at her differences”.  “We can’t have that here”.

“But she drives around in that little clown car all day, knocking into people”.  “She even demanded a ‘clown stall’ in the ladies room.  It’s outrageous!”

“She did?”

“Yes!  Thank goodness you finally see my point.”

“No, Bob.  I don’t see your point.”  “If Binky requires a special place to relieve herself, it’s up to us to act immediately and provide it for her”.

“Your kidding, right?”

“Do I look like I’m kidding, Bob?”

“I can’t tell.  You never smile, frown, or anything.  It’s like talking to Keanu Reeves, to be perfectly honest.”

“Well, I’m not kidding.  You need to make immediate arrangements for Binky to have equal accessibility with her little car, as you would for any other person with ‘different’ abilities.”

“How am I supposed to do that?”

“You’ll have to figure that out.  Until then, I have no choice but to send Binky home with full pay until we have accommodated her needs.  It’s a serious liability issue for us, Bob.”

“But the door to the staff washroom isn’t wide enough since she sits sideways in the little car.  Her huge shoes stick out and can’t fit through the door”.

“What about your office door, Bob?”

“What about my office door?”

“It’s much wider than the washroom door”.

“But it’s my office, not a washroom.”

“Get building maintenance to retrofit your minibar area to a private washroom stall.”

“But, its MY office.  What am I supposed to do?”

“I guess you can sit in Binky’s old cubicle.  With any luck, we won’t be sued by the ‘CLWS’.”

“What is ‘CLWS’, Lisa?”

“Clowns Living Without Shame.  They’re a radical group I just heard about from Binky.  Very powerful.”

“Are you sure she’s not just making all this up?”

“You see, Bob.  It doesn’t matter if I believe it or not. As long as Binky says it exists, we have no choice but to accommodate for it.”

“That’s ridiculous. She can just make up some crazy idea, wear a clown costume around the place, and I have to give her my office?”

“And we have to get her a helium tank so she can make religious balloon animal symbols.”

“Of course we do.”  “Is there anything else I need to do for Becky…I mean Binky?”

“Not yet, but she did put in a purchase request for a case of cream pies.”

……yup, I think you’d be safe.