I feel a bit bad typing this, but oh well.
First off, I do admire the people who work for charities; I think you’re doing a stand-up job and devoting your life to a good cause. For that, I salute you.
Unfortunately, as I’m going to put forward as one of my ‘resolutions’ for potential short stories we have to write in class tomorrow, “Working for charity doesn’t necessarily make you a nice person”.
Now, my two examples here aren’t necessarily nasty people, but talking to them both actually made me not want to give money to their specific charities; a more accurately, give money to their charities, but not via them.
Is that petty?
Yeah, I suppose. But screw you. This is my blog, I can say what I want.
So I got paid for the first time since January yesterday; not because I had a boss who neglects me and I was too stupid to leave, but because I’ve never before worked at university until now. I’ve spent the last month working as a sandwich artist. Seriously, it’s in my sub-title right up there. You should know this already.
I thought I may indulge myself a bit and go shopping. I haven’t bought new clothes for a while. So I hopped on the train to Truro, and visited River Island, Topman and TK MAXX. Gotta love that last one.
I did want something specific from H&M, but unfortunately the nearest store they have is in Plymouth. Cornish problems. Am I right?!
I can say that now; I live in Cornwall, just in case you’re new to this whole thing. In which case, shame on you.
Anyway, I’m walking down the street, and this man stops me to ask if he can talk about his charity. I’m in no rush, I’m rolling a fag and I feel sorry for these guys who spend their days being ignored by everyone. So I say yes.
He’s ecstatic about this, joking that most people just shout at him when he tries to talk to them. It’s a joke, yes, but it’s also implied that he doesn’t get much of a chance to push his cause. I am one of the few indulging him in this respect. Remember that.
So he starts telling me about his charity, a worthwhile one, for sure. He then starts explaining that he doesn’t want money, which made me suspicious. Everyone wants something. Everyone. Especially charities.
He goes on to say that he’s trying to collect ‘people’ rather than pounds. He wants to be able to go to the government in the future, and explain that these people support us.
It is at this moment I realize that he’s trying to be sly and does want my money, but regularly and more than I would have given him at the present moment. I try to stop him. He ignores me and continues, finishing his pitch with the exact ploy I had already figured out.
I apologized and said although I’d be happy to give him money now, I couldn’t commit to something like that, because a) I’m a student and b) furthering that, it’s rare that my bank account exceeds £0. My overdraft is far too familiar to me.
He then looks at me with judgment in his eye, and suggests that I may never get to positive monetary figures, and also, he’s a 26 year old unemployed musician.
These statements paired with his obvious judgment, believe it or not, didn’t make me inclined to give him my bank details. Instead, they made me think that perhaps, PERHAPS, (this is now directed at the guy in question of course) you should fuck off out of my face and get a job before you suggest other people should part with the cash they’ve earned.
Now, it’s not that I’m judging him as such, or that I think people shouldn’t give money to charity.
It’s just that first part was a lie; I am judging him and I take issue with what he said for numerous reasons. Said reasons are as follows:
Firstly, your obvious ploy to make me think you’re better than me because you’re unemployed yet still work for charity is insulting. You don’t know my story. I used to volunteer for a charity when I didn’t have a job and although my role didn’t involve asking for money, if it did, I would know when to give up.
Secondly, what has you being 26 or a musician got to do with anything? I didn’t tell you my age. I could be older than you for all you know. Am I? No, but you don’t know that. All that suggests is that you’re taking longer to get your act together than I have. I’m 21 and I have a job. Is it a great one? Fuck no. But I needed one so I got one. I understand that can be hard, but using your unemployment for pity can start to make your whole argument slightly questionable. And the musician thing? Why are you telling me that? I write things, but I don’t actually go around saying I’m a writer regardless of what my lecturers say; I say I’m a sandwich artist; that is my job. If I publish a book or get a job that involves writing, I might introduce myself as writer, rather than a sandwich artist and writing STUDENT. For all I know, you could be shit at music, hence why you’re unemployed. Conversely, you may be a fantastic musician, but choose to put aside your passion so you can help a charity.
I don’t know. I only met you for about two minutes. Likewise, you don’t know me. And yes, I realize I’m being a tad hypocritical about judging him after acknowledging that he did the same thing to me despite us only encountering each other for a few minutes. Which leads into my next point.
What he should have known.
What he should have known was that when I said I’m a student, there was an implication that I don’t have any money, as the student stereotype suggests. I was shopping, yes, but I was getting a bit tired of wearing the same things over and over. Some new jeans that fit properly, didn’t smell like Subway and aren’t ripped seemed like a worthy investment.
I shouldn’t have felt the need to explain myself. However, I did leave the encounter feeling bad, because I would have liked to be able to help but realized I couldn’t personally commit to the cause in the way that he was suggesting.
This was the exact same problem with the last charity worker I spoke to. I met a man who worked for Oxfam in Durham. Our conversation started in much the same way as this previous one. Although he did actually have a bucket on him, I again was rolling a cigarette and in no hurry. I stopped, gave him money, and he asked if he could take my name and number because he needed to get feedback on his work to prove he was actually doing his job. He was lovely, so I said yes. He continued to explain that they may also ask if I wanted to give further donations; but this man, seeing that I was probably a student, also explained that I should just be able to tell his coworkers that I couldn’t commit to their cause, if that was in fact the case.
Two days later, they called me, but I was catching up with a friend, so I quickly said I couldn’t talk right now, but the guy was doing a good job although unfortunately I couldn’t afford to make regular donations. They said that was fine.
Then they said they’d call me back the next day and quickly hung up.
So the next day comes; I’m back in Leicester, my home at the time, and they call. The guy tries to run through the regurgitated spiel that I’d heard the day previous, so I stopped him in his tracks, and said I couldn’t make a regular donation. He told me it’s not about the amount, so much as the regularity.
I tried the student approach. He was cunning, and blurted back that he was also a student.
This confused me a bit, but he should have known, as I do, that if you ask someone for money, and they reply that they’re a student, there is that aforementioned implication. The implication that they’re perhaps closer to the student stereotype financially than they want to be.
But fuck that. This guy wanted to play ball.
The only thing I could do at that stage was be honest. I told him outright “I’m so far into my overdraft that I only have £20 available”.
He repeated that it wasn’t about how much I could give, but how often.
I pointed out once again that I couldn’t give anything at any point soon. I had twenty pounds to my name and no job.
He kept trying, bless him, the cheeky sod. He explained to me that it didn’t have to be much at all, it could even be one or two pounds a month. I started to think he was enjoying this, as he could almost certainly hear the irritation in my voice.
I had been replying to him in perfect English and thus could comprehend what he was saying. I didn’t need it explaining three times. I’ll admit I snapped at this point, although thankfully no swear words were thrown into the conversation, although I have been known to do that. I’m not always so great talking to businesses on the phone.
“I UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU’RE SAYING, BUT I STILL DON’T HAVE ANY MONEY. NO MATTER HOW MANY TIMES YOU SAY THAT TO ME, IT’S NOT GOING TO CHANGE. I CAN’T COMMIT THE ONLY TWENTY POUNDS I HAVE TO YOU, NO MATTER HOW MANY INSTALLMENTS THAT’S IN. I JUST CAN’T”
I paused, before he started trying to explain it one last time, as if I had misheard him.
“I DON’T HAVE ANY MONEY!” I shrieked quickly, and hung up as my housemate burst out laughing at my annoyance from upstairs.
The guy didn’t call back, thank fuck. I assume he either understood or got confused when someone shouted at him despite the fact he worked for charity.
And that’s my problem. If you work for charity, there is a strong chance you are a nice person. But it doesn’t mean you are one for sure.
If someone says to you “I can’t give you any money”, yes, they may be lying, but it also could mean that they actually can’t spare more than the money they give you in the street. Either way, they’ve made it clear they’re not going to.
Sorry, I just got a text that threw me off. Lost my flow. Not that it really matters, you’re not reading this live after all…
Um. Yeah. You just need to know when to give up, I guess? God, being pushy for a good cause. How dare you.
Seriously though, the homeless I’ve encountered tend to be less insistent and their lives can literally depend on the money you give them. They tend to be nicer too. There have been occasions where I’ve spent a fair amount of time chatting to a homeless person before giving them more money than I would to a charity collector. Were they perhaps exaggerating their emotions to trick me into parting with my dosh?
Probably, but at least they were actually nice about it and listened to what I said.
That was probably a pretty shit ending, I have completely lost focus. I was so close to the end as well. Bloody people texting me.
Totally wasted your time with how long that was as well. Sorry, not sorry.
And here I am still wasting it.
You should probably stop reading now.
Because I’m going to stop writing.