Monday, November 24, 2008

Ring Those Bells

Today I gave up my whole day ringing a bell for the Salvation Army. This morning Gary, the guy in charge, called and asked me if it was enough notice for me to come and ring the bell at 8:30 at the Stater Bros. It was 7:50. I said yes anyway. David got up, got dressed, and came with me. He had to be at work today at 10 and the McDonald's was across the street. Anyway, I was waiting there for Gary to bring my bucket, when one of the fabulous family I met on Friday showed up. Yep. It was the older sister, the pregnant one. Her name is Carolyn. I know right? She said she was supposed to be there today. She chatted with me while we waited. She is a pleasant person, but she has some serious issues. Not only is her sister being accused of welfare fraud, she got hers taken away for some reason too. Wow.

When Gary got there, he confirmed I was in the right place. She was supposed to be at K-Mart. She threw a hissy fit. I said do not worry about it. I went off to K-Mart. I rang the bell in front of the K-Mart from 10 am to 6 pm. I had a heck of a day.

First, I was surprised at how much money I collected. Even in tough times, people still gave. Most people gave a buck or so. I got a few 5’s, 10’s and even a 20 or two. But the fun part was seeing all the people. There sure are some interesting people out there.

Most of the people were nice. There were a few crazies though. When I first got there, some woman walked up and said, “You can go screw yourself if you think I would give money to this.” I did not even say anything. We are not supposed to solicit, just ring the bell, say thanks, and Merry Christmas. Some other jerk walked by and said something like “Why do you people have to stand in my way?” I was not even in the way. Some other guy walked by and said “Hey, I am needy, how about you give me the money?”

Of course there was plenty of action there at the K-Mart. Many of the K-Mart girls are wearing flannel pajamas to work. I guess the store gave them to them and they are on sale in there. They have to wear them until Christmas. However, they say that it is very hot in those flannel pajamas in the K-Mart. Late this afternoon, a girl came running out of the K-Mart, setting off the alarms, jumped in to truck that pulled up and sped away. I wonder what she stole. What was weird was that no one seemed to notice except for me and some of the customers going in and out then.

A girl I knew in high school, and did not like, came up to the store. As she was walking up, she was screaming at a couple of kids. Wow. I guess she is still the same. She came up to me and asked me if I was me… I said no. My name is Susan. She looked skeptical, but I did not like her then, I doubt I like her now.

While I was standing there, several people came by and checked the garbage cans outside the store for cans. People are pretty desperate. But people were still pretty generous. There was a homeless man in the parking lot asking people for money. He was out there for about 4 hours. He came up and put about a buck in change in my bucket. He said “Here ya go babe.” He was an older gentleman. I thought that was so generous. He had nothing, but he still gave. Another woman came and was telling me how she was 92 and on social security, but that she was going to give to me when she came back out. She went in the K-Mart, came back an hour and a half later with three rolls of paper towels and gave me a dollar.

A lot of older folks chatted me up today. A LOT! I was called honey, sweetie, darling, cupcake, sugar, dear… You name it. Older folks were generally chatty and gave money. One of those older people made me cry. Then when I told this story to David, he cried. (Do not tell him I told you. He is such a wimp.) So go get your self some tissue…

Anyway, this older gentlemen and his wife came up to me. She was pushing him in a wheelchair. He had tubes all in nose and a machine thing on his lap. He grabbed my hand, put a dollar in it and said, “Say a prayer for me. I don’t think I have that much longer and I just want one more holiday with my family.” Then his wife told him they had to go. He said, “Don’t forget. Have a nice holiday with your family.” I was trying so hard not to just cry all over my bell.

Kids were interesting too. A little boy came out with his Grandma and was asking me all kinds of questions.

“Why are you ringing that bell?”
“Why do you want to get money in the bucket?”
“Do you get a prize if you put the money in the bucket?”

He was so cute. Then he asked his grandma for some money and she searched her purse and had no cash. She looked upset and he was sad too. However, I told him not to worry, he could come back. He said he would. He could not have been more than five. A couple of other little kids came by with their dad. They were covering their ears and saying that ringing was too loud. When they came back out, one of them said “Hey lady, that’s loud. You should stop that.” The dad told them I only stop if you put money in the bucket and gave them each a buck. They put it in and told me to stop now. I stopped and they watched to make sure I did not start again until they were in the car. They were funny. They were probably between four and six.

It was a lot more fun than I thought it would be. I am supposed to go back on Wednesday. Tomorrow I have a HUGE interview at 10. HUGE! Seriously, this could be it. I also have another interview late tomorrow afternoon. In addition, I have a few other errands. Nevertheless, everyone keep your fingers crossed for that interview. 10 am.


  1. That is quite a huge difference in people......people yelling at you and telling you to get out of the way when one old man just wants a few more weeks so that he can enjoy his family for the holiday. Mr. Hightower had all his family there for Christmas when he was very ill and then he passed way I think it was right after new years day......he said he was sick and tired of being sick and tired and he was ready to go.

  2. I know. I felt so bad for that guy. I hope he has a good holiday. I hope that homeless man found a warm place to sleep. It was chilly and it looked like rain.

  3. we need more holiday spirit, year round!!!!!!!!!
    Happy Thanksgiving!

  4. Loved your story. Really liked the part about not being you, Susan. I sure hope that guy gets to spend the holidays with his family. I would love to help and be a bell ringer. It's just really cold here. If it was warm I wouldn't mind but hours outside in the wind, snow and cold just isn't me. But I do put money in the buckets.

  5. THis was such a great post Jennifer. I absolutely loved hearing about your day as a bell ringer. WOW...there are quite a few characters out there and what a golden opportunity to people watch. We get some doozier sometimes when we do our rescue booths too. Anyway, I can't believe some of them who just rudely walked up to you and told you that weren't going to give. That's just crazy.

    What a sad story about the wheelchair man. I pray that he makes it through the holidays.

    Oh, and I'm surprised by the length of your shift. Are most bell ringers out there for that long?


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