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Am I a cranky jerk? Do I need a heart?

Pleasedonate_2I was at the check-out stand at one of the major supermarket chains in Long Beach — I don't want to say which one for reasons that will soon become obvious — when the cashier asked me in a loud voice: "Would you like to donate $1 to charity today?" I knew it was coming. While shopping I couldn't help but notice the store was dotted with fundraising signs, strategically placed donation jars, and even a makeshift "jail." (Some poor employee has to sit inside while asking passers-by for spare change.) Yes, I knew the request for a handout was coming. But I was still irritated. Don't get me wrong. I realize it's important to give, and I make a modest contribution each month to the charities of my choosing. But I just don't like being asked for money, particularly in such a public way. To me, this is one step removed from aggressive panhandling, as the cashier stands there, fingers poised over the key pad, waiting for me to either reveal myself to be a kindhearted giver ... or a Scrooge. I said, "No," signed my credit card receipt and went on my way.

But what do you think? Am I being a cranky jerk? Do I need a heart? Perhaps I should have just paid the buck as a self-reminder that I'm able-bodied and now have a fridgeful of groceries. Geez. Now I feel like a heel. I'm going to go back and post $1 bail for someone.

— Rene Lynch

Photo by Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Comments () | Archives (5)

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Safeway's behavior is annoying but it continues because many people feel intimidated into giving.

Charitable giving is a VERY good thing, but people, if you want to give, then give to the charity of your choice, and do so directly, so YOU, not the store, are the beneficiary of the tax deduction.

The last time I went to safeway, I heard the cashier say to one of the folks who weren't giving in to the intimidation: "Give, while you still can..." Sounded like a threat. Not acceptable. Trader Joe's and Giant are sounding better and better...

The same thing happened to me at Safeway and I just said 'no thank you, i'm fine." No guilt at all.

I don't think you're being cranky. I feel the same way. For the longest time I would begrudgingly say yes because if I didn't I felt like a cheapskate. But I give to charities all the time - ones that are meaningful to me, ones that I take the time to research. I think it's inappropriate for a grocery clerk to fundraise - regardless of the cause.

Now, I politely say no to the grocery clerk and go on my merry way.

I understand what you mean, and my compromise is to agree to the donation at least half the time. Since I commute from NJ to NYC for work, I usually go to the market at least 3-4 times a week. If prompted for a donation, I'll agree at least 2 times. I may not make much money, but it's only a few dollars a week. Agreeing to donate alleviates any guilt from the times I do refuse, and of course, I remember to make yearly charity donations.

Try it and see if it works for you!

I think I would become angry if someone did that to me...and make a point of replying quite loudly that I will be the person who decides where my charity donations go...I would also tell the cashier that I would like the manager to be informed of my response, and that I will not shop in that store again while they continue this behavior.
In the past I have chosen to donate at checkstands-when I feel like it. However, I prefer to research a charity before I donate (and I find it timely that today's LAT has an article on charities and how little they sometimes receive from the actual donations. The City of Los Angeles requires that a solicitor provide information on who is soliciting the donation, what the money will be used for, and how to get more information if needed. I don't know if Long Beach has a simiilar law but I think it is one worth implementing.
No business has the right to pressure their customers to donate to a designated charity, no matter how good its intent. It may be that this chain is having a store competition to see how much can be raised, and that this manager is being extra gungho.
The makeshift jail is even more disgusting. I hope someone who knows which store it is will post that information.
L Akin


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