Some observations that occur in connection with a recent shift ringing the bell at our community's Salvation Army Kettle at Wal-Mart:
1) Gone are the days of the red metal bowl with a wire top. In is a plastic cover with an X-shaped opening in the center and a locked cover. Also in is a lockdown bar to prevent someone from just grabbing the kettle and running away. Ah, brave new world!
2) This Wal-Mart too is equipped with the special magnetic parking signs that keep carts from careening about the lot, as well as the magic paint which won't let carts go outside its lines. This is fortunate, as the cart corrals are an Odyssean fifteen feet from most of the parking spaces.
3) There is an upper age limit for wearing red Christmas leggings under your sweater. And madam, it is lower than you think.
4) I am standing six feet from the exit door; by entering it to avoid the kettle and averting your eyes you are not really "sneaking" past me.
5) I really only said "Hello" to you because greeting people is a part of the role and I'm kind of friendly like that. It's not a guilt trip to make you donate. Go ahead, make eye contact and enter to do your shopping free of the feeling that I am condemning you for not giving. Really, I'm not. There are times when I don't have anything for the bucket either.
6) Heaven between me and being a part of the bell choir; I'd go nuts.
7) Our community has a number of generous people. The top, I think, was the fellow who dug his change out of his pocket and said he was giving because when he had stayed at a shelter he had helped ring the bell once and he figured he should give back.
8) Watching little kids give is cool. And they alone have fingers the right size to actually stuff money through that little opening in the kettle; the Salvation Army should look into that next year.
9) Don't forget to carry some ones with you as you do your Christmas shopping. Knowing that you have given something to help other folks can soothe some of the worst retail nightmare experiences.