How I Deal With the ‘Charity Annoyance’

I’m sure everyone has encountered them, the school-spirited kids that stand outside of stores and ask for money to buy new sports uniforms.

Or some individual who holds out a plastic jar with a child’s picture taped to it looking for donations, claiming his daughter needs new Nikes for a school marathon. Then there are the good Samaritans who ask you to leave a bag of rice or can of beans on your way out of the grocery store.

And what about this extreme annoyance: You stand in the grocery line checking out your items when the cashier asks (in high volume) whether you’d donate some money for her grandmother who needs a heart transplant.

What to do? If you say no – you look like a “Scrooge”; if you say yes, everyone in line behind you will be irritated because now they will look like pikers if they don’t donate.

Am I supposed to feel embarrassed or ashamed in declining these requests at the register? Is such a charity tactic appropriate?

No, no one should be subject to judgment at a checkout counter. I don’t even know the cashier, and I certainly don’t know her grandmother. Is she being honest or simply looking for a way to make extra cash?

I roll my grocery cart out of the front door, and there some church group is offering me the opportunity, via the purchase of raffle tickets, to win a new BMW. When I finally escape all the philanthropy seekers, I stop at the pub for a cold one and now I must contend with the annoying tip expectations just because the bartender was doing her job, filling a glass with beer.

Before I leave, some “bar-leach” wants me to buy him a shot of whiskey.

You simply can’t keep digging in your pocket because people put the pity spell on you. Though it’s been a while since I sang in the choir, in church I’m expected to give a percentage of my salary.

God instructed believers to give a tithe, or a tenth, because this 10 percent represented the first or most important portion of all that they had. I’m expected to give 10 percent, yet the preacher lives in a house three times bigger than mine. I’m not an atheist or a miser, but enough is enough. I also have bills to pay and no one is donating to my bank account, except me.

I’m all in favor of raising money for honest charities (now and then), but I like to choose what I give, when I give and to whom I give. I’ll support Rotary, the Kiwanis, PAWS, The Humane Society and NCVO; at least with these organizations I know where my money is going.

I believe it should be compulsory that our politicians donate to every person looking for a handout; after all, they make way too much money and it’s my money they’re making.

Anyway, I suspect there are some dishonest individuals who use emotional blackmail and deception to part me from my hard earned cash.

When I spot these characters, I try not to avoid them. In fact, I walk right up to them with wallet in my hand and then hit them with a bit of “reverse psychology.”

Before they have a chance to pitch me their contrived hard-luck story, I pitch them with mine, poor troubadour that I am. I ask them if I could borrow $5. This usually throws them a curve, and they leave me alone. However, when someone surprisingly loans me $5 (yes it’s happened), I place it in their donation jar and walk away with a grin.

Say what you may about my stance on charity. At the end of the day I believe in the old cliché, charity begins at home, but it shouldn’t end there.

I just purchased myself a six pack and a fine Cuban cigar. Now who says I’m not a generous person?


When not traveling to some faraway island, George Nowak (The Barefoot Man) performs at the REEF Resort in East End and the Wharf Restaurant. Read more of his adventures in his book, Which Way to the Islands.