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

July 5, 2008 |  5:10 pm

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