As someone who has had to occasionally beg readers for money, perhaps I should keep my mouth shut about charity requests and incessant email from politicians I’ve bent over backwards to support who, especially over the last few months, are bugging me for more and more and more money. I guess emails aren’t so bad, we can delete them in private, but it struck me tonight that it now happens in Walmart or other grocery store or box retailor every single time I shop.
I actually stopped going to Whole Foods in part because I was tired of being hit up three or four times every trip, in the parking lot, aggressively where they follow you and keep badgering you, then in line at the register, then again in the walkway leading out, right to the same crew that hit you up on the way in. I’m not talking about homeless people at an intersection, or a passive collection box, or a girl scout table selling cookies at the entrance, or even someone ringing a bell outside. This is store sanctioned active solicitation from adults and often by store employees practically from the moment I step out of my car. directed at paying customers. and all the chains seem to be doing it now.
It happened again tonight, in and out and while ringing up, twice, by both cashier and assistant helping to bag, and I finally told the lady as nicely as possible, is there anyway I can get a store pin or something that says please don’t ask me for any more money at the cash register or in the parking lot? One thing that annoys me about it is the cashier probably makes just over minimum wage and you know they don’t see a dime of that money. Hell, if the cashier said instead, “This shitty store only pays me eight bucks an hour, can you spare a dollar to help my family eat?” I’d be way more likely to chip in.
That cashier is only doing it because his or her supervisor makes them, the supe is doing it because the store manager is bugging them, and the store manager is doing it because a regional exec who probably makes 250 grand a year is hassling them. One can almost hear the cheesy conversation there: “Now Jim, you guys didn’t deliver goal on your charity collections last week, are you gonna really let store #132 make you look bad again?”
The other reason I don’t like it: I’m somewhat captive when standing in line and I don’t want to be constantly reminded of how poor I’ve become and/or have that fact announced to everyone within earshot. Or made to look like a stingy asshole and feel guilty over not being able to afford it — if I gave a single dollar to half the people asking me for money in malls and parking lots and checkout lines and lining every interstection, I’d be broke real quick.
All so some asshole exec can look good to his boss, and the boss then gets to hand over a big fat check to grateful applause surrounded by Walmart logos and look like this great, generous humanitarian, and the corporation gets a tax deduction and all the credit. All this from a giant company making millions of dollars a week, a corporation that in all likelihood lobbies DC and statehouses every day against my economic interests and the interests of their own entry level employees, a company which I already, involuntarily support via sales and income tax because they won’t pay their employees a living wage, and which I directly support by shopping there.