Listen, don’t think me some sort of uncharitable louse, okay? Let me finish what I have to say, then you’re more than welcome to call me an greedy prick who should be hit by a car. Maybe I am greedy, or maybe I’m just tired.
Look, I give, okay? If I have money, I give it freely. It’s just paper whose actual purchasing power depends on the exchange rate of the day. Yes, I work for a living (at many different places these days), but I’m not made of stone and am entirely too nice to tell beggars to go sit and spin on a fire extinguisher nozzle.
Guys approach me all the time on the street. They always look me in the eye, they’re always careful to keep some distance, and they’re always doing their best to look friendly. I always smile back, because I know what that look means.
“Hey man, can I have a couple bucks to get some gas? I have a long and complicated story that’s probably bullshit, and I probably really need the money for drugs, but here’s my line.”
I’ll listen thoughtfully. I’ll nod. I’ll smile. I’ll ask questions and make comments. I’ll test them.
If their story is well put together and they’re able to answer my questions without too much difficulty, I’ll give them a few bucks. Yeah, I know, I’m probably the reason they continue to do it everywhere they do it. Still, if they care enough to make their story relatively tight and I have the money, they’ll get what they want out of me.
I know it’s a con. I’m not that stupid. They know I know it’s a con, I’m sure. But I make with the paper when I have it. Maybe I feel slightly better about myself for having done a good deed. Maybe I’m compensating them for their storytelling ability. Maybe I’m giving them money to make them go away.
I don’t mind giving, even when I know it’s going to go straight into some guy’s pipe in the form of some delicious crack. That’s Kool and the Gang; more power to you, brother. Get your crack on and enjoy yourself. As a crackhead, your life probably sucks even worse than mine, because I’ve never gotten an infection from a rat-bite on my ankle.
But you know what? I’m tired of the forced giving at work, and I’m tired of pretending that I feel bad for not having money. I don’t feel bad, all right? I know the Homeless Glassblowers’ Alliance does some really good work for the poor and miserable, but asking me for money at work isn’t the best idea, for a number of reasons.
First of all, it’s solicitation for a cause that probably already receives millions of dollars from the government, and I don’t appreciate paying the same organization more than once. I already lose almost half a paycheck every two weeks to taxes, I don’t want to add more by giving a few bucks a month via payroll deduction.
Second of all, I don’t make that much money. I pay taxes, FICA, Medicare, the company retirement contribution, a retirement contribution into my own 401k, and insurance fees. You people work here, you know I don’t make much money because we’re all on the same relative pay scale. If we are not on the same pay scale, you make more than me as I’m the lowest man on the totem pole in the office thanks to my job classification. I have a phone bill, I have to pay for World of Warcraft, I have to buy beer, and I have to pay off a crippling level of college loans for a degree that’s been as useful to me as nipples on a male cat.
Third, you are my coworker, or more likely, someone in a position of authority over me. I don’t like being handed something with my name on it and told to turn it in to you, even if I am giving money to your pet cause. It’s not your business to have some record of what I give to your cause, or to have some record that says I choose not to give.
If I want to give, I’ll give. If I don’t want to give, I won’t give. That’s not information anyone else needs to know. That’s between me and the strippers down at the Jiggly Room.