The frozen man


Ran out to the supermarket tonight to get some corn syrup. There was a man on the sidewalk, ringing his bell for the Salvation Army. He had on a relatively thin jacket, with gloves and a hood. It was 8:23. He told me he had to work until nine.

There were very few people out. I mean, it was freezing. Ten degrees, according to the report. Yet the man refused to go home. He sat there, ringing, ringing, ringing, ringing. “I don’t mind the cold,” he said. “Not that bad.”

I put in $1 and some change, then watched for a few moments. Of the five people who passed him, one gave money. I was amazed. Even if you don’t believe in the Salvation Army, doesn’t the human in you want to give a man standing in 10-degree hell some purpose?

I thought about my job. Laid-back. Joyful.

Then I went home.

4 thoughts on “The frozen man”

  1. I like your writing. You seem like a decent guy … you’re honest, which is a very important trait in a writer and you aren’t afraid to say what’s on your mind.

    But there are some times when I read your blog and you come off like a self-righteous prick.

    There a ton of reasons why four out of the five people who came after you didn’t give the Salvation Army guy any money.

    Giving the bell ringer a dollar and some change doesn’t give you the right to judge. Charity doesn’t equal morality.

  2. Jeff, I have to agree with Byron here. Think about those five people you watched. Maybe one just got laid off and is worried about disappointing his kids this Christmas. Maybe one just had major surgery and is dealing with overwhelming hospital bills.

    Or perhaps they all gave money earlier in the day to one of the thousands of bell-ringers posted outside of just about every store anyone shops at these days. Hell, they could have already contributed to an equally-deserving charity.

    Am I an asshole for not giving money to every homeless person I see? There are plenty of other ways to give back.

  3. Jeff,

    I have a number of problems with the Salvation Army. I don’t like their stance on homosexuality. I don’t like that the Houston chapter is insisting on proof of residency before giving out gifts to children in need. Just because someone is standing out in the cold is a stupid reason to give money to an organization that I do not support. Should I give money to any group that is fund raising in inclement weather regardless of their views?

  4. And probably the most overlooked explanation: I never carry cash. If said charity had a machine and I could put a buck or two on my check card, I’d probably do it if I felt it was for a good cause.

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