I spend a lot of time in grocery stores. It’s not by choice, mind you. It’s just that I have children. And children need to eat. Often.
No matter how hard I try to be that organized Mom who buys a week’s worth of food on Sunday afternoon or Monday morning, I can’t seem to get through my week without visiting at least three different grocery stores at least 14,000 times each. It’s a huge time suck I’d rather avoid all together. But like I said, my kids need to eat, or so they say.
So off I go to Pavillions for cereals and yogurts, to Whole Foods for meat and dairy that isn’t steroid’d up like a WWF Power Lifter, and to Trader Joes for everything else. But every time I go to the market, no matter which one, it seems like someone, somewhere is asking me for something. “Would you like to donate a dollar to save baby harp seals?” the checker at Pavillions asks. “Do you have a moment to save the butterfly?” the guy holding the petition says outside of Whole Foods. “Hey lady, do you care about the plight of the fava bean?” says the gal skulking in the parking lot at Trader Joe’s.
Years ago, when I was one of the world’s worst stand-up comics, I referred to an adorable African American heckler in the front row as “Tootie.” As in the adorable African American character from “The Facts Of Life” TV show (which if you remember, at one point starred my next ex-husband Jorge Clooney.) But, back to my shit stand-up.
Pre-me calling an African American girl, “Tootie”, the audience loved me. But post-me making a racially offensive remark that may or may not have also been somewhat sexist and just plain old stupid, the audience was not with me. In fact, they hated me. I know this because they told me. I could have been personally saving all the baby harp seals, butterflies and fava beans in the world, and they still would have hated me for not knowing my audience.
I think of this every time I go to the market. Do I want to save baby harp seals? Sure, but let me feed my family first. Do I care about the plight of the Norwegian Butterfly? No, actually. I don’t give a shit about it because I’ve been up all night studying the plight of my 2-year-old’s vomit. See. Know your audience.
The worst was when I was pregnant and the Planned Parenthood folks standing outside my local Whole Foods would stop me to talk about abortion. This seems like a perfect example of “Know Your Audience.” Sure, in my life as a civilian, I’d go to bat for Planned Parenthood. But while I’m gestating a real-live life form, maybe I’m not that gal to talk to about killing it.
Here’s the thing: I care about harp seals and butterflies and fava beans and unborn fetuses and born fetuses and haircuts and blue things and that candidate whose going to change the world, I just don’t care about them all 600 times I go to the fucking market.
Does Mr. Pavillions have any idea how many times a week I go to one of his stores? My list may say, “Milk and eggs,” but I’m always going to leave without at least one. So I have to go back. Do I want to donate dollar? No. I was just here an hour ago. Do I have to donate a dollar every time I fucking forget something at the market because that’s 56- dollars day. Times that by a few days, or a few weeks and I could have bought a handbag instead of saving the fucking world.
I understand the strategy, mind you. My outrage is exactly why they’re there. I, you, we are all there at the supermarket all the time so eventually we will sign that petition to bring back corsets or give that buck to the “Save The Pubic Hair” charity. If nothing else, we’ll get worn down or guilted into donating a quarter to the “Bring Back Hats” campaign that the degenerate on the corner is yammering on about.
But in all honesty, I don’t want be guilted into anything when I’m a paying customer. It may be just a buck to the harp seals guy, but his request is the 37th I’ve received today, and it’s only 2 pm. When I’m grocery shopping, the only thing I care about saving is money. I’m not interested in saving the Rhodesian Iguana nor do I care about the recent findings that say sleep causes autoimmune diseases.
So unemployed college graduates who, instead of getting jobs, are getting exhausted mothers to sign petitions outside of Whole Foods-you really want to change the world, get a job. And while you’re at it, take a shower. And don’t ask a pregnant lady about abortion. Only shit stand-up comics do that.
Shit stand up comic turns stellar comedy writer! Awesome post Meredith. I feel your pain.
When asked for a donation towards a “corporate charity” at Wal-Mart, Safeway or the like, I always say “not today thanks.” What I mean to say is “No fucking way am I giving $2 towards a charity of YOUR choosing so that you can look like a good guy giving a big cheque, taking the tax break & kudos for my donation. And why are you asking your customers to pay for your charitable donations anyway? You should be making donations to charities that you support from your ridiculous profits!”
Rant over. Back to your regularly scheduled programming.
HA!! I love this and often have the same battles, both with donation solicitors and with leaving the grocery store with 634 things I didn’t go for, but not the one thing that I DID go for.
The one thing you failed to mention in your post is how you feel like a total bag of shit when they ask you for a mere $1 to feed a poor African child for 3 years, and you say no.
I know I always feel like a douche when I say no to them, but you gotta draw the line somewhere!
Nothing irks me more than a mega-corp asking me to donate. They s/b donating and they s/not be asking their employees to ASK every single person to donate.
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