Sunday, March 25, 2007

Sorry Sir, but Take Your Charity and Shove It

One of the perks that go with having a forum such as this is that when something ticks me off I have an outlet to share my feelings of contempt with the general public. I could always unload on a family member, and I have no reservations about doing so. But sometimes it helps simply to write it down and share it with the masses. Hopefully, somebody will share my annoyance and we can then be ticked off together.

I’ve written a few times about pet peeves. I won’t share any more of them with you today. Well, ok, just one. I can’t stand motorcycles. Most of them are about 100 times noisier than a Mack truck and they’re annoying to maneuver around on the highway. Come on cyclists; don’t they make mufflers for those things?

There, now that that’s off my chest, let me get back to the main reason I got ticked off today, after those heathen contraptions from hell got my feathers wrinkled a little to start with.

My daughter and I were walking downtown in Indianapolis, enjoying the good weather and deciding whether to eat our lunch alfresco or to go inside out of the breeze. We could barely hear each other’s opinions on the matter because of the bikers, but we finally decided to eat inside and avoid the noise at an Irish pub. The shepherd’s pie was excellent.

When we were finished, I paid the check and we walked out. I was immediately accosted by some guy with a brochure and a tin can who walked up to me and shook my hand. Then he started in about some charity he was proud to donate his time to and wondered if I would mind donating a little of my money.

Before he got his second sentence out, I stopped him and politely explained to him that I would decide which charity would get my money and when they would get it. I told him I didn’t donate on the spur of the moment to strangers.

My daughter told me a few minutes later that she had given him an apologetic look because she had been a little bit embarrassed by the way I had turned him down. So that got us thinking out loud about how best to turn down those ubiquitous panhandlers in the city.

We kind of made a mental list of things that would have been better to say than what I had told the guy. I told her at least I didn’t use the regular excuse that I didn’t have any money in my pockets, as if he hadn’t heard that one a million times already.

No, we decided it would be much better to be honest with the beggars, even if they are strangers. So we took turns deciding a few “something betters.”

I volunteered, “I’m sorry, sir, but your charity really stinks.” And then added another one: “I apologize, sir, but you’re wasting my time." The inflection is the key. Say it so that the words “You’re wasting my time,” are all accented equally, and draw them out a little.

My daughter then added to that one. She said to expand on it a bit: “I’m sorry, but you’re wasting my time and yours. My time would be better spent continuing on my way and your time would be better spent hitting up anyone else on the street but me.”

We spouted off a couple more, like, “I’m sorry, sir, but my mommy told me never to talk to strangers,” and "I'm sorry sir but your time would be better used asking someone who gives a crap." I even got a chance or two to use one of them but chickened out.

But by the time we got home, I was feeling better and was no longer ticked, either about the panhandlers on every corner or by those irritating motorcycles.

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