Thursday 19 September 2013

This Time of The Year

Every year at end of August or beginning of September there is this one day: The air changes! All of a sudden there is a freshness in it and it becomes clear to everybody that summer is over. There may be a bit of hope when at lunchtime the cardigan feels a tad bit too much and the craving for ice cream becomes overwhelming again, but there is no denying: Fall has arrived!

The nights are nippy, the car windows are misting up, and then the first yellow leave is falling. Eventually I manage to accept the change and to even find some positive aspects; reading instead of roaming the outdoors, a nice tea maybe with a bit of rum in the evenings, cosiness and tranquility, even the prospect of all the Christmas dinners that have to be braved is not really daunting yet, and then it happens: The letterbox makes its distinct noise on delivery and an rather thick envelope without an address is lying in front of my feet. The charity season has started.

The summer is for the 'take part' charities; we run, we swim, we climb and bake, the winter is reserved for begging.  When friends use charity work as an incentive for a challenge and ask me for sponsorship, I call it a win-win. If a big charity however sends me an unasked for letter containing Christmas cards, coasters and bookmarks, and is expecting me to pay a particular sum for the nonreturnable goods, then I call it blackmail and my anger is growing.

What am I to do? It feels wrong to throw away rather ugly yet perfectly usable items, but using them without paying feels even worse. I used to keep them in a drawer, but even after years I feel a certain guilt whenever I stumble over them.

This guilt trip induced by a simple letter seems to be very powerful as it must outweigh by far the cost incurred by sending the letter in the first place. I have done a lot of charity work and I am happy to do so in the future. My incentive however, always was and will be the feelgood experience of helping and I object to blackmail and guilt.

This year I left the items casually lying in the coffee area of our office and I definitely will not pay a penny ever to charities of this kind. There are many others who advertise their achievements and future plans to raise funds. You will need to be genuine in order to get into my pocket.

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