Jackie Little: The Charity Collection
The Charity Collection
Scoop's Jackie Little ponders the absurdities of modern life.
I answered the door recently to find a genial elderly gent who was laboriously doorstepping the street attempting to recruit - well - people to laboriously doorstep the street.
He was after collectors for a forthcoming street appeal for a well known and worthy charity.
I had not done any tin waving since my youth and since I am always too skint these days to donate more than the odd Gold Coin to any cause other than the most urgent and horrific (Katrina, say) I thought this would be an ideal way of doing my bit and getting in some healthy exercise.
So on the appointed day, (a cold and blustery one of course) I donned my trusty jeans, a big woolly pully and warm but impractically heeled boots - first mistake!.
I carefully applied my official collector's sticker which promptly fell off as did the spare and set out to tread the mean streets of the Kapiti Coast. And boy did they turn out to be mean.
I had recently been enraged by the aggressive tactics of another well known charity , whose representative had me signing on the dotted line to a long term financial commitment I would be unable to honour before I was aware I had expressed more than a friendly interest. I had to back pedal in the most excruciating manner and I was not amused.
So I was determined to a friendly non threatening approach. A simple, polite request, and no prune mouthed expressions if people didn't want to cough up.
I tell you, it very quickly got very, very dispiriting.
As I teetered precariously up and down steep driveways and palatial flights of steps in the ridiculous boots, it quickly became clear that although NOONE wanted to declare frankly they weren't interested, most would go to any lengths to avoid giving.
The number of households who were devoid of any ready cash whatsoever was quite astonishing. And there were some pretty cunning tactics deployed, my favourite being the chap who donated four five cent coins - the ones that are now obsolete that is.
My mum later told me that she has on more than one occasion found foreign coins in her charitable collections.
One burly looking chap with a photo of a police line up on his hallway wall, demanded an official envelope, clocked my lack of sticker and seemed to have reservations over the veracity of the charity involved (It is a very well established international institution, I collected for it as a kid, 30 years ago.)
To give him his due, when I opened the envelope it contained 60 cents.
Women, being eternally prone to guilt, were predictably the most generous givers. Interestingly, the sole person to give a piece of the folding stuff was a full time working mum in the midst of a rowdy kids' party. I'm not sure why but I am sure there is significance in there somewhere..
I emphasise, I am not judging these people. I am fully aware that none of them asked for this ludicrously shod supplicant to knock on their doors and make demands on doubtless overstrained pockets but it was an interesting psychological exercise seeing the lengths they would undergo to avoid a simple, "no thanks".
Less interesting was the inevitable encounter with a psychotic Hound from Hell. Clearly not partial to busybody charity collectors other than as a tasty snack, he reared up over a fence snarling and foaming with the most terrifying ferocity and causing me to turn my heel nastily as I scrambled, whimpering, away.
Of course there were plenty of empty houses necessitating a return trip the next day, so all in all, it was perhaps two and a half hours work which reaped a princely $13.70
When I went to hand in my envelope to the charity rep', I apologised for the rather meagre sum and offered her a couple of my observations. She just laughed and seemed unsurprised.
They say a fool and his money are soon parted. This being the case I am beginning to suspect I may be residing in the midst of genius.
Just kidding, neighbours.