zen.org Communal Weblog

May 12, 2005

I'm not seeing you, I'm really not seeing you …

Filed under: — brendan @ 13:34 IST

A friend of ours was selling little red heart pins as a fund-raiser for his school. He was up in the main thoroughfare of our town just south of Dublin, trying to get people to buy one. Lots of folks did, happily, knowing they were helping a good cause. Then there were the other people.

They would dash across the street up ahead of him, just so they didn’t walk past. Or they’d go by as if they didn’t see him—Oh my, look at the great shoes on sale! their expressions told him. After a little while, this fa├žade grew old and sparked his creativity. This called for an experiment.

He moved over to a blank wall stretched between two buildings. Nothing but concrete blocks and cement, from the ground up to about six feet, nearly his own height. Having found his position and putting on his most engaging face, he called out to people to help support their local schools. After only a couple of examples, he knew his theory was true: they’re all faking it, they just want to avoid him.

The next person came by, a middle-aged man with eyes lost somewhere in the land of middle-aged thoughts. As he approached my friend standing only a few feet ahead of him, his face shot to the right about 45 degrees to focus intently on—the wall. There was no shop, no window looking in on products he might (never) buy, no other people suitable for distraction. But that didn’t matter. The wall would do. As long as he could go by without eye contact with the teenager selling stuff for his school, it was all cool. La la la.

He continued on his way, joining a frighteningly large group of people who are too bothered and too selfish to offer 50 cents or 1 Euro to contribute to an always-underfunded, forever-understaffed part of our lives. It doesn’t matter if it’s in the United States, Ireland, or Crete, the problem is the same. Don’t bother me, it’s my money and why should you get it?

But watch out, for the mirk of hell doth rise when I find you’re not spending enough to teach my kid.

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