This week has been my company’s quarterly canned food drive to benefit a local food pantry. I’m convinced that many people have a skewed sense of charitable giving. I always dread these quarterly food drives not because I have an issue with supporting local charities but because these events which are supposed to bring out the best in people often times bring out the worst or the most disappointing behaviors in people.
The way our food drive is set up is, to “encourage” people to donate, each person is to donate 5 canned food/non-perishable items in order to dress casual for the upcoming week. Now personally, I don’t believe in “bribing” people to be good citizens, but it’s not my program so I just follow the rules. Anyway, 5 cans for 5 casual days, pretty simple huh? Basically for a $3.00 food donation you can wear jeans, sandals, etc for an entire week vs. normal business attire. Unfortunately since my workspace is in a central location, I get to see the masses in action and have basically broken down my fellow employees into various categories when it comes to giving.
The Open-Handed Givers: this is my favorite group and I consider myself part of it. Basically, these people give because the want to and regardless of whatever “reward” the company is giving, we would donate anyway. 5 cans is a minimum, a suggestion. If you have more, give more. It’s not that serious. My philosophy is, if your hands are closed, how will you ever receive anything. I’m not saying that you should give just to receive, but I do think that the law of the universe (karma) rewards those who give freely and without hesitancy. I think there’s a verse in the Bible that says something like “the Lord loves a cheerful giver” or something similar. I’m not a Bible-scholar so that’s just my attempt at paraphrasing.
The Acknowledgement Seekers: these people give, but they want you and everyone else to know that they gave and if they decide to give 7 cans instead of 5, they will tell you. This person will never fall under the category of “Anonymous Donor” These people proudly and prominently display their “Certificate of Participation” on their cubicle wall and will take notes and drop hints about others who didn’t give the 5 can minimum yet are still participating in Casual Week.
The Rationalizers: These are the people who wouldn’t give unless they are getting something in return and they won’t ever give more than what is asked for. In fact, these are the people who will rationalize that if they work from home one day a week and since Friday is a company casual day anyway, then “technically” they only need to give 3 cans. These are the people that I really want to punch in the face. I’m not even sure why they even feel like they have to give an explanation. It’s not like they feel bad.
The Triflers: These are the trifling folks that know that since the food drive organizers don’t really monitor the food drives, nobody is going to know whether they actually participated or not, so they just dress casual and never bring in a donation. They know that the Acknowledgement Seekers are watching them, but they also know that the Seekers can’t really prove anything since nobody really verifies who brings in canned goods. My only hope with these people is that they will continue always get the crumbs that life has to offer and will remain bitter and always wonder why life is so hard for them.