I walked into a Wawa store the other day to purchase a Gatorade and a coffee cake, and while I was at the register performing my duty as a consumer by paying for my chosen items, I was asked by the cashier if I would like to give one dollar to the "hungry children." I replied - without hesitation - "No." There was no explanation to follow either. A simple "no," seemed, at the time, to suffice.
I did not say, "No, thank you. That was my last dollar," which would have been a lie because I DID in fact have several other dollars, AND I wasn't really thankful at all for being put in that position (the one where you're standing up and people pressure you to give them money for various reasons). I did not say, "No - I have a dollar in my wallet, but that's all the way in the back of my pants now, and I really don't feel like going back there to get it," which would not have been a lie, but didn't feel like the actual reason that I declined. I did not even question which "hungry children" I was being asked to support. Was it the "hungry children of Wall, NJ" - who may have not eaten since lunchtime - or was it the "hungry children that I see in those commercial ads who are surrounded by flies and usually force me to change the channel?"
Anyway, as I left the store, I wondered to myself why I had said "No," and what, exactly, kind of person I was. Was I not ready for the fame and notoriety that come from giving a dollar to the "hungry children" and then having a circular card with your name on it plastered above the Wawa register, along with the hundreds of other Wawa faithful who were pressured into forking over a dollar? Was I worried that my dollar would go towards holiday gifts for the significant other of this adolescent cashier, thus leaving some random child in either Wall, NJ or Ethiopia to go hungry for another hour, or at least until this guy's shift ends and a more honorable employee begins ringing people up? Or was I just a self-absorbed jerk who only lives for the moment, and who wouldn't let a crumb drop from my coffee cake, even if I was stepping over a homeless person?
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I didn't say, "No" because I don't care for people less fortunate than myself. I do. I just thought that if I'm going to help somebody out, I'm going to do it on my own terms. I'm sick and tired of organizations like Wawa, and The Salvation Army, and Sally Struthers guilt-tripping people into helping out the less fortunate, so they can feel better about themselves. I mean, how far are we going to let this escalate? What if you went to the bank to deposit your check, and the teller said, "Would you like to donate half of your check to the Alaskan Seals with Diabetes?" and there's a line of people behind you giving you a look like, "You better do it! What - you don't care about the SEALS?" and the teller is already taking out the circular card to write your name on? I can't live in that kind of world. I refuse to.
So anyway, I figured, "What better time than the holiday season to take a stand by not freely giving to those less fortunate than myself?" Ha ha - that was a joke. Sort of. I AM going to do my duty as a man, and as a Catholic, and as a human being, but I'm going to do it when I want to, where I want to, and without a line of people of behind me. And I don't care how many homeless people I have to step over to do it.