You’ve seen these guys, right? This time of year we might run into several of them in one day as we dash from shop to shop picking up just the right gift or the needed ingredient for a holiday recipe.
I always joke with the kids that you can’t just walk past one of these guys…you’ll get cosmically bad karma and regret it for the rest of your life. I rarely carry cash or even change any more, since you can use plastic pretty much anywhere. But we’ve been dropping $$ in these buckets for so long that I don’t have to worry about it any more. When one or more of the kids is with me, they’ll spot the bucket, murmur “karma” and start digging into their wallets or pockets.
Earlier this week at the grocery store, Middle Sister and I encountered a bucket at the entrance with two guys next to it – one live, white-haired gentleman, and one tall, handsome younger dude. The younger one turned out to be a life-sized cardboard cutout. Kinda weird.
Middle Sister explained, citing a sociological experiment she’d read about. Turns out if there’s a place where people are expected to contribute cash – for example in a work lounge where you’re supposed to toss $$ in a basket to cover the cost of your coffee – it’s been shown that people are more likely to pony up if there are eyes somewhere in the room. And not just a living, breathing person; this phenomenon tends to be true even if it’s just a painting or photo of a human somewhere in the room.
I know this principal works on me. I breathe a sigh of relief if the bell ringer next to the kettle stand is on break. I walk on past, unconcerned about my karma. If there’s someone standing there in the cold, I shove something into the red kettle. I can’t help but imagine that if I were standing there, it would make my day any time someone gave to a cause that makes a difference to so many people.
Bottom line, it’s giving to others out of what we’ve been given that makes this “the most wonderful time of the year.”