Sunday, June 11, 2006

No! I do not want to contribute to your accursed Deviated Septum Fund. And keep your stinking groceries while you're at it.

There’s a new kind of stickup artist these days. It’s the checkout clerk at your local supermarket. For the sake of the argument, call her or him Bags Molloy.

No, Bags doesn’t stick a gun in your face. Bags has a more potent weapon, evidently taught to sales clerks these days by supermarket managements.

It’s called arm twisting by embarrassment and here’s how it works:

You’ve gone to the supermarket with your shopping list and loaded up your cart. You wait patiently while the dodo in front of you pays with a credit card, slowing down the whole process so that one of these days – if he lives long enough – he can fly free to Fredonia, assuming any airlines are still doing business by then.

Now it’s your turn, and after you get your peas scanned, your green pepper weighed and your stuff bagged, you reach into your wallet. Just then Bags Molloy asks you some variation of, “We’re collecting for the Fund for Kids With Deviated Septums. How much would you like to contribute?”

This is the gun in your face. To all the people behind you in the checkout line, some of whom might be your neighbors, you look like a skinflint, a Scrooge, a sniveling cheapskate if you say, “No! No! No way in hell, Bags. I’m too broke.” Or, “I prefer to give my money to starving kids in Darfur.” Or, “Nope. I only support unpopular political causes, such as the fund for handicapped gay married couples with terminal AIDS.”

The consequence is, you end up forking over your hard-earned money to Bags Molloy’s supermarket bosses for a charity that may or may not be a good charity and that almost certainly isn’t your favorite charity.

This has happened to me more than once, and at more than one supermarket. You too? If not, it will. The “charities” love it, because they get supermarkets doing their dirty work for them. Supermarkets love it, because guess who’s popping up on the charities’ lists as big time donors?

Meanwhile you, the contributor, don’t get so much as a thank you note or dedicated receipt. If the IRS comes by to audit you and checks your charitable deduction, let ‘em paw through your supermarket checkout tape. Tell them they can find your gift just below the carrots and the cat food.

I nearly exploded when I went through a Waldbaum’s supermarket checkout line in eastern Long Island, New York, very recently and got held up for a contribution to the March of Dimes. So when I got home, I went and checked out the supermarket thugs at the March of Dimes who are after a part of our hard-earned grocery money. Hmm, very interesting.

When I was a kid, The March of Dimes had a real purpose. They wanted to prevent polio. Thanks mainly to a medical pioneer named Dr. Jonas Salk that happened nearly half a century ago. Since then, the March of Dimes has been casting around for some reason to keep on raking in those shekels and supporting its staff and its pension plan.

Right now, their big thing is fighting premature births. Premature births? In a world filled with real and potential pandemics, starvation, corruption, cancer, sexually transmitted diseases and more, they picked premature births?

Or maybe they really are most interested in keeping their pension fund healthy. You think I’m kidding? I pulled this right off their website from The March of Dimes 2004 annual report – evidently the most recent one they’ve posted as of this writing:

“By all financial measures, 2004 was a significant improvement over
2003 as total revenue grew by nearly $7.0 million. Total net assets
increased by nearly 40% to $31.6 million with a margin of $7.6
million. The equity market’s stability also benefited the Foundation’s
pension plan providing a $1.0 million reversal of minimum pension
liability charges required to be recorded in prior years.”

Good for the pension fund, but what about the money that elsewhere in their annual report they say they contribute to “research and medical support” – whatever the hell that consists of? That part of the March of Dimes budget garners a pathetic 18% -- that’s only eighteen percent – of their total budget. But hey, ya gotta keep that pension plan going, right?

Well, that’s the last time I’ll ever contribute to The March of Dimes. (Bags Molloy got two bucks out of me, or the equivalent of ten percent of the grocery money I left at her counter. Thanks for starting me thinking about the March of Dimes, Bags.)

It was also the last time I will ever stand for this kind of supermarket stickup. I’m a big boy. I can figure out for myself what I should and should not contribute to, and when.

So next time some Bags Molloy sees my wallet out and asks for a contribution, I’m not only gonna scream, I’m also gonna leave my groceries at the checkout counter march out the door, and go to some other supermarket.

What about you?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes!!! I know exactly how you feel ! I am a Brooklynite and I believe most New yorkers have the same crankiness. I love your blog!

Anyway ..yeah.. This just happened to me when I went to see a movie It cost 9.50 and the girl who sold me my ticket unenthusiastically asked if I'd like to give 50cents to children with cancer. I gave her a 10 bill and had 50 cents back anyway I gave it of course but as I walked away I thought what if I was relying on that 50 to complete my train ride home and said no Would I have been made to feel awful!
Stick up is the perfect way of describing the situation