Do you want fries with that?

Over the years, I have had more than my share of jobs. Listing them would take a blog post in themselves. Early on in life I worked at Mickey D’s flipping the greasy burgers. It wasn’t the worst job I ever had. To be honest, they were good enough to keep me away from the registers, which meant that I didn’t have to be happy and cheerful to the drunks holding it together as they ordered their for burger. This was the bottom end of the regular job selection. The benchmark for employment was set low and most of the time I felt I was little more than a cog.

I moved on from burger flipping and as I grew older, the need for funds became more important. I tried my hand at many different things in the hope of finding something that would lead to a career. One job that became a staple in my fluctuating fortunes was the humble call center. My first call center was an inbound call center for insurance. It was a general insurance line so I basically was providing the one stop update-your-details and provided some basic information about the insurance policy. It was my first experience of the modern McJob.

Booths, a brief few seconds respite between calls, and then the happy greeting comes again. Though tedious, it was not as demoralizing as some people say; however you really become conscious of how little you are in the grand scheme of the company. “Welcome to – fill in the blank – you’re speaking with Mark.” Over and over again. Tethered to a small piece of plastic (yes folks, this was before cordless headsets.)

It’s not all bad though. Like with any job, you take your kicks where you can find them. Some of my favorites kicks include, fake accents. So long as you speak an approximation of English, people are willing to put up with just about anything.


Tools of the trade

Sometimes I would annunciate. Every. Single. Word. Try saying a sentence that way. Then imagine doing that for a 5-minute phone call and watch it become several minutes longer. Accents can be fun too and so long as you sustain it for the call, people are too polite to comment for fear of offending. I one time did an entire call mimicking Mumbles from the Dick Tracy movie. I made certain to make enough words clear enough for the conversation to progress but I couldn’t get over how the customer said nothing about the fact that what I was saying barely qualified as communication.

Not all customers are polite, mind you. Sometimes you get the ones who just need a target for their frustration and you are it. They hate the company you work for, or perhaps they had a bad day at the office. Perhaps they are just an asshole. It doesn’t matter, tethered to that phone you have to grin and bare it till they start swearing and you have a legitimate excuse to hang up on them. Years ago, I remember a call taken by a young Asian gal from Ballarat. (For those of you outside of Australia, that is about as dinky di as one can get. For those of you now wondering what dinky di means, allow urban dictionary to help:

dinky di. Australian Bush Vernacular: To stress truth; true blue; for Real; speaking the truth. No! SHE came onto ME mate, dinky di, I wouldn’t lie mate, really!

Back to our story)

Ling got a call from a gentleman who decided that he didn’t want to speak to no Asian (despite she had a real Aussie accent). He wanted to speak to someone else. Being the bastions of customer accommodation that we were, Ayashkantha was more than happy to put the guy on speaker for our collective entertainment as he answered the call. The gentleman subsequently decided he might call again after unleashing a steady stream abusive frustration.


Fee range

I also tried outbound. Outbound is a completely different beast. It didn’t take long for me to realize I really wasn’t cut out for outbound. At least with inbound, people are calling because they need you. Outbound, for the most part you are a pain in the ass that needs to be dealt with. I was lucky that the product that I was selling was at least one that I liked but I didn’t last very long and was never really successful. A friend of mine was desperate for a bit of work and had decided to have a crack at outbound sales. He was mid interview and just about to have a crack at answering “Where do you see yourself in five years?’ when a salesman stood up and rang the bell in the middle of the room indicating he had got a sale. He looked at his interview and prompt answered “Anywhere but here.” The interview was over. Clearly outbound sales aren’t for everyone.

Call-centers can vary significantly, but what they are looking for rarely does. You apply, prove you can articulate a sentence or two and boom you are back on the phone. “Is there anything else I can help you with?” Call volumes vary and the quality of the coffee does too. Most of the time, you aren’t there to provide customer service. I’m mean the people who call believe you are there to service them but really, you are there to, upsell products, send them to the company website to do their business, make certain all their contact details are correct (so that the company can keep their meat hooks in them) and just maybe, deal with the customer enquiry all within the allotted time of 3 minutes. More than three minutes? Well then you should have directed them to the website so they stop calling.


The giant evil.

Contact centers themselves vary. They all have the standard tools of the trade. Head set, computer, call recording warning signs and walls to minimize noise and distractions. If you are lucky you have access to a view of the world outside, (though this has been discovered to be a flight risk and many call centers try to dissuade you from fleeing by making certain all appealing views are allocated to Upper Management. Don’t believe me? I once had computer login issues that forced me to sit at my desk for a 4 hour stretch with nothing to do, whilst waiting I was looking out a large window seeing the world before me, by the time I could log in, I had handed in my resignation. The flight risk is all too real and retention can be a challenge.

That being said, people elevate the world that we inhabit and this is the same with contact center’s. They tend to hire people who are chatty and often are young in mindset (and age) and as a result, when there are brief moments of respite from the calls the banter is first rate. You and your fellow phone jockeys are doing the best that can be done, under resourced, under siege from callers and sometimes even management, (who have their bonuses tied to how many calls get answered within the first 30 seconds.) Some outsourcing companies value this so highly that I have seen managers calling the call center in quiet times to tweak the stats to their benefit. No, it is far from a perfect job. After all, it’s hard being all smiling and happy call after call 80 times a day and then heading home and trying to be nice to your friends and family. With all of that we keep on smiling and there is an overall sense that this is just a brief stop on the road to something better, but in the meantime, is there anything else I can help you with?

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Gearing up for the day


Vote 1 Grzic

Being the change you want to see was one of those mantra’s that I have often harped upon, especially in light of the changing world. For years I had felt that leaders seemed less impressive, as the clown car dispensed one joker after the next. With the latest election being held in Australia, I knew that there was little to get enthused about so my intention was to split my votes across those who would have little to no chance of getting elected, but were willing to make the effort to throw their hats into the ring.

Then up stood my brother. It’s a funny thing when a person close to you decides to run for public office. It wasn’t really an idea that came out of the blue, (he had mentioned it a few times as we were growing up,) but certainly one I wasn’t really expecting at this election. That being said, being politically engaged and doing community minded things seem to run in the family. Across the family, they make regular donations to causes around the world, argue about social justice over pancakes as well as make regular submissions to government reports.The more I thought about it, the more I should have realised it was inevitable.

Like a good brother, I did what good brothers do and agreed to help where I could. I spent a few lunches handing out How To Vote cards to those heading in for early voting, offering suggestions on how to articulate a position, or even just helping my brother to clarify in his own mind, positions on issues that he had never really had an opinion on. All of this was also good for achieving some clarity on my own points of view. (I even had occasional flashbacks to when my father was involved in politics and he used to “encourage” us to drop party political junk mail into peoples mailboxes.) All in all it wasn’t the worst way to spend a little of my time.


The Candidate in repose

It was also interesting to meet people who traversed a world far removed from my usual bubble. People actively involved in national politics who were passionate about their candidates and their positions. They ranged from the very young handing flyers out for a relative, (Tweens, I believe the term is now.) to the octogenarian handing out for the euthanasia party. Some were quite vocal and theatrical. (The Greens candidates had their own greek tragedy performance about the current government and it’s heinous attempts to cut funding to the CSIRO.) All the groups, from the very left, to the very right were there, and to be honest, it was all quite light and relaxed. After all, these people had several hours to kill each day and the only people to talk to, were others in the same boat. In the quiet times, candidates were compared and people would happily discuss the overlaps between each others choice.

Election day arrived and it was still a civil affair, though with more people handing out flyers, there were those who made it inadvertently entertaining. Everyone had their styles. I for one, having worked a stand selling gluten free, cholesterol free, dairy free, nut free sugar free chocolate (Far tastier than it sounds.) at many a fair was using much the same approach. Polite but light. sweet william Making it fun on a day when people were queueing and wanting to get on with their days. Being moderate left, I was an easygoing person to strike up a conversation with about politics when the queue dropped off. I chatted with the Liberals (Conservatives), Labor (More lefties, democrats for my American friends.) Greens (Who always seemed convinced that this was their election.) and so on. One of the highlights was a man I was convinced was mentally unbalanced and may have been drinking for a large portion of the day. (His candidate got a seat on the senate.) One lady who represented a salt of the earth farmer by the name of Bob Katter whose gal on the ground took the passive aggressive approach to handing out flyers. “Support the farmers, vote for Bob Katter.” and when a person trapped helplessly in the queue declined, she followed it up with. “Oh, so you don’t support the farmers? I guess you don’t want to eat then.” (Her candidate made it in too.)


A good old fashioned rally.

Then there was the Labor mob. A well oiled machine with uniform red hoodies and beanies. They wanted their people out there regardless, and with a big party behind them, they had the numbers to pick you off no matter how to tried to sneak in to the voting booth. The Liberal party had their blue and white t-shirts that highlighted the fact that they looked pretty, but were essentially useless when it came to the realities of being a person on the ground doing the work on a freezing cold, windy Sydney day. (On the plus, they had the numbers and cash to be able to afford regular cafe runs.) One of their members had developed a style where he would stop and chat with people in the queue directly in front of people from smaller and independent candidates so as to make it hard for them to hand out their flyers. Amongst all of this was the humble Australian Electoral Commission workers trying to monitor the chaos. I spoke to a young guy who had just turned eighteen and had seized the chance to get involved. When I asked as to why he was passionate about supervising the process, he told me with a gleam in his eyes, that he would earn $400, for the days work and that would cover his beer for a month.

It was interesting being involved and it became clear how slim the chances to get elected would be if you didn’t have name recognition or a massive party machine to crank out the supporters, flyers and billboards, posters showing the same heads with their plastered on smiles in perfectly coordinated outfits. The amount of printing that had gone into a few small hours of activity would be, mere hours later, consigned to the scrap heap of history. (Hopefully recycled.)


It only feels like being in Fury Road…

Well the day was done and the battle fought. My brother didn’t get elected but the learning curve was high (for all of us.) and if you follow  the news, Australia still hasn’t got itself sorted. The fear is that with no result, it all will happen again in a few short weeks. I shall put my hand up to help the Australian Electoral Commission, after all, I will certainly need $400 worth of alcohol to get through another election.


Being a change

One of the things that I love about traveling is meeting different people and sharing their experience of their own country. On my last great trip I met some amazing people who in their own way are shaping their country.

Recently one of the places I had spent some time has been in the news. It was a fairly secular country but more and more, under the present leadership that country has been changing. One of the things I tried to do when I travelled was to just stay in one area for a while in the hopes that I could see a little beyond the surface.

One of the friends I made on the journey was quite concerned about the changes that were taking place in their country. Months later when I saw them again they remarked over a beer that they were feeling less safe walking down the street in than they did only a few months ago. Freedoms of the press were being curtailed, a more hardline religious tone was coming out of their leaders and many terrible things were occurring in the country as it was heading towards an election.


Effort required.

My friend was justifiably concerned about the direction they felt their nation was going but they also were living in a position where they were less comfortable saying anything in any format that might have been interpreted as negative of their leaders. (Even as I write this I was conscious to not provide anything that might make them easily identifiable.) It seems strange to me, as I follow the news of that country, to see what has happened in such a short period of time.

I take a lot of things for granted. The idea that my country will always remain my country as I think of it is one of them. Maybe that is why I went to the protest a couple of weekends back? For those of you in Australia, I would hope that you are aware of what has been happening in New South Wales and especially Sydney in relation to the changing of laws to limit where and what time you can go to bars. The removal of elected councils that fall into the same development areas that the government is trying to push an infrastructure project through, the new powers that are being given to police and law enforcement agencies that given them greater authority as to where I can go and whom I can congregate with.


So many reasons to protest.

All these changes mean more to me now than they previously did because I have witnessed just how quickly these little changes can impact on the life I want to lead. Don’t get me wrong, I have no interest in breaking laws or getting into trouble, but now the police can decide that a group of people coming together over an issue could be considered a threat to public safety and they can make us disperse. They can decide that if I am gong somewhere they don’t like they can pass a law restricting my movements. There is also less recourse for people like me to challenge these decisions and even less transparency from our officials to justify their decisions.

I watched and I listened and the more I listened the more concerned I became. The people cheered at the right moments, the speakers were loud and angry. The police stood around and made certain that the protestors stayed in the designated area. Walked the designated route at the designated time. Several undercover police moved through the crowd. All in all, it was a perfectly acceptable protest.


Exercising your freedoms over designated routes only.

I found myself chuckling as one speaker announced that if things didn’t change, the elected officials of our state would get a nasty surprise in three years. Yup. Three years. Does anyone remember Kony 2014, or even what you were doing last weekend? This protest was likely to achieve nothing because the people in power know that in three years, if by some miracle someone remembers, they may get voted out of office.

It would scarcely matter by then as they will have destroyed Sydney’s night life enough that the developers can move into the parts of the city that have been off limits to them because of thriving businesses. The elected councils that were removed and replaced with people beholden to the same corporation that is trying to get the massive building project up and running may go back to the people but by then all the official approvals will have been passed and the project commenced. Perhaps even a few brown paper bags will have been filled with money or the promise of future employment secured.

How do I know this? The corruption is always there. Not limited to any nation. Everyone knows it. I have heard people speak of former ministers well known for such flexible behaviour. These days it appears less and less like something they care to hide and I am complicit in this. I vote once every few years and then I go back to my life. I bitch and moan about my leaders but I never joined a party, or took any time to find someone that would stand up for what I wanted. (Or God forbid, stood up myself.)


And perhaps we should be.

Be the change you want to see in the world is a quote I see get bandied about from time to time. Perhaps it is time for me to figure out how to do that beyond the walls of a Facebook like.

Starting all over again

It’s been a while. A long while since I had the urge to write. Actually, that is not exactly true. I have had the urge but I always found a way to put it off. Stories in my head and words on a page are two very different beasts. In my head, my ideas are brilliant. They are perfect and there is no risk. Once I start committing to paper (or any other medium) I run the risk of not being as great as I am in my head.

The trigger that took me off writing was another failure. It happens when you are a writer. You hear stories about all the rejection letters that famous writers got and then one day they became successful. Letters aren’t so bad. Even if it is a form letter, there is some recognition of your work. It gets hard when you hear nothing. No letter, no email, no feedback. You submit something and then you wait till one day you decide that you will not hear anything and move on.

When I was offered the opportunity of writing for a TV show, I was understandably nervous. My first attempt had been a solid effort but it had been a while since and so whilst I wanted to grasp the brass ring with both hands, I was hesitant. At the time I had one request in taking on this task. Feedback. I asked that someone give me feedback on what I was submitting so I could see what was going on and work out where improvements needed to be made. I wanted to do it right and I would rather have had less work and be submitting good work than just take the money. The feedback never came. Nothing. I would just get called and given another script and to be fair, I never asked if there was anything to work on, after all I had asked for feedback and if nothing was given that meant that I must be doing something right. Right?

Then one day the phone stopped ringing. No calls, no emails, nothing. I never knew if it was personal or professional or both. (Having been a script coordinator for a few years I had seen personality issues with the head writer see writers get struck from the writers list.) In the end I had to assume that they didn’t like my writing but again with no feedback it was hard to know where to begin to improve. I was left to my imagination as to what went wrong and when you have a writers imagination unleashed, it can be quite terrible.

That can shake the confidence but as any successful writer tells you, you have to persevere. So I did. I had a couple of old bosses, one in particular that would give me his time and advice on my work and I pressed on. I wrote a short play that was moderately successful but many of my other projects missed the mark. When I had a miss I would go back to my friend and get the pearls of wisdom when he had time. I did a couple of courses as well, run by people who were good at what they did and the feedback was always very solid. I did a submission for another former boss who gave me great feedback (he always did when I wrote scenes as a coordinator) but before I could really get back into the serial writing, my friend and mentor passed away.

I had already decided to do some traveling but without his assurance it was hard to find the enthusiasm to jump back into a world that he had so intrinsically been a part of for me so I hid. I kept writing though and tried to find that formula. I would occasionally submit things but never get any response and with no one to bounce off the work it became harder to maintain the enthusiasm. Then I had one project that I felt was great. I had refined my craft and I thought provided something that was short and punchy and exactly what they were after but again there was no response.

My friend James once said to me “Being a writer requires a massive ego. You have to believe without a doubt that you are the best person to tell the story that you are telling.” He also threw in some swear words and a few insults as James was that sort of guy, but without him as a constant antagonist and mentor my enthusiasm wasn’t there. So I stopped.

I still had the stories in my head and the ideas always seemed to flow but I didn’t want to share them. I took a break with the intention of not writing again and see how it felt.

To be honest, there was relief. No demands of myself, to produce, to be judged, but there was also an absence. I like writing, I like the ideas, I like that feeling that I have a story that is worth telling, but sometimes I felt like I needed that mentor to remind me of this and to encourage me. Family and friends are one thing but having someone who really understands what you do and reads your work is a rare find.

I’m not certain if there was a trigger to start again. I have been revisiting projects to try and understand how to improve them. I have stood in front of my keyboard and started to gingerly type the words. I have lost momentum and I can feel it when I write. It takes time but I can’t help but think that when the wheels come off if you aren’t happy with where you have ended up, it’s worth putting the wheels on and having another drive. It will be interesting to see where the road goes from here.

Exploring other roads.

Whilst I was travelling I would often research places online when I was trying to decide where I was going. I would Google a few places and read a few articles. After I was finished I headed back to Facebook and started catching up on my messages and checking the feed. The next thing I knew, I was being flooded with ad for places where I was searching. My email box started getting great offers and newsfeeds were suggesting many relevant sites.

This is nothing new. I understand that the cost of business on Facebook is that I lose my privacy. I end up on mailing lists that will be spamming me until I die and long after my trip ended, I would still be receiving “Great Offers” for one or more travel destinations that I was yearning to see. None of this bothered me. As I said, it is the cost of business. What I started to realize is that with the abundance of information out there, I could filter the information so specifically that I only needed to be exposed to the information that fit my system of beliefs.

There are so many hours in the day and only so long anyone can spend surfing the net. Between the clickbait, the targeted ads and the constant stream of useless information we only have so much time to allocate to the rest of the world. In order to find out as much as possible, we choose, very specifically, our sources of information. Those sources know their audience. They get very specific feedback about them. They then try to provide more of what their audience wants to keep them. It all makes good sense. It’s also incredibly limiting.

I have liberal tendencies. I make no effort to hide them. I like guns but can’t understand why anyone who lives in a city needs one. I have a preference to explore alternative therapies and will avoid all contact with Doctors unless absolutely necessary and I believe in science, climate change and that social justice is a good thing. The trouble is, when I only expose myself to the things that support my views, I run the risk of limiting new ideas and becoming a little less tolerant to those who hold opposing views.

I like an argument. Not a shouting match, but intelligent argument where someone tries to convince me of his or her point of view. One of my favourite arguments I ever had was with my little brother. He won me to his side after a long discussion. My older brother is a constant source of political information that I would otherwise make no effort to explore. He constantly is making me aware of things that I would otherwise be happily ignorant about. I have a cousin that is very pro gun. He has yet to put together an argument regarding his position that in my opinion genuinely moves beyond, he likes guns and bad people have them, but I enjoy the back and forth. I won’t ever change his mind and he won’t ever change mine but that’s okay, besides, we agree on a lot of other things.

I think that it is important to ensure that you are constantly exploring sources of information outside of your usual sources and especially those that challenge your ideas. That is not to say that everyone has a valid point of view. Being selective is important. Someone once told me that they could scientifically prove that climate change was a hoax. I politely suggested that they should publish their evidence, get it peer reviewed and get back to me when it is done and I will happily read it. (And if they ever do, I most certainly would.) Ludicrous statements that have nothing to support them can make you switch off to another perspective but it is always worthwhile trying to find to cogent argument at the heart of the matter. After all, everyone out there approaches the world in their own way and just because I have learned one way doesn’t mean there isn’t a better one.

Moving beyond old limitations.

I had an interesting experience a couple of weeks ago. I was getting a massage treatment when the masseuse realised that one of my ribs was in fact, dislocated. It wasn’t a recent development, there was no accident in which it had occurred. It was just my rib cage and it had always been like that. My bottom right rib, raised up jutting out a little from my body. The masseuse promptly took the opportunity to try and put the rib back where it was supposed to be.

Now let me say this up front, having a rib slot back into place isn’t a pleasing experience. In fact it’s a fairly crappy experience, especially when it has been out of place for as long as one can remember. As people, I have found that we often build much of our identity around who we are and what we can do, especially physically. In my case the rib has always been something I have disliked about myself and something that has caused me much distress over the years. It led to me feeling very self conscious about taking my shirt off. Subconsciously I felt exposed on some level and as a result I hunched and developed a curvature of the spine, I also had a massive discomfort at the idea of anyone touching my chest region. As you can imagine, over my formative years this must have had an impact on my social and personal development.How could it not? Whenever I looked in a mirror I saw something that was ugly and freakish about me.

I am lucky though. I’ve never had any pain from this problem and my body functions well enough to let me do all that I wish. For that I am grateful, but it has been one of those things about myself I have been trying to fix for over twenty years. On this day though the problem was seemingly identified and sure enough though the rib went back where it was supposed to go. In moments this freakish aspect of myself was no more.

When it happened there was a lot going through my head. Why after all the people have I seen over the years for various conditions, (including fractured ribs that required x-rays), had no one realised until now? A sort of mental anguish washed over me. An action so simple had rectified this problem. Something so simple that if it had been done twenty years ago, I had to wonder if I would have been the same person I am today. Would I have kept the same friends? Pursued the same studies? Might I have been more active in sports if I subconsciously wasn’t always protecting myself.  I often muse on the idea that who you are today is a result of the things that occur to you over your life. Sometime there is a specific event you can pinpoint, other times it is a random moment lost in the shroud of time.

It may not even make a difference. After all, perhaps we are at this moment who we are at this moment and everything else doesn’t exist. There is so much to consider when you reflect on yourself, especially in the aftermath of profound change. I always thought my of my problems were fixable, contrary to the opinions of specialists, did that have an impact? The desire for self healing and change can be powerful. It can move mountains. Gautama Buddha said “With our thoughts we make the world.” and even though I remember this because it was at the start of the old TV show Monkey Magic, the statement still rings true to me.

It can be hard to change yourself, especially when it comes to those aspects of you that have been a part of your life for as long as you can remember. It can be harder changing when everyone says that is just how it is and sometimes the problem is that which you can’t clearly see. I remember reading somewhere, and it is something that I have often repeated, that the one constant in everything in your life is you. You need to accept that you are in charge of you and being able to make better decisions about your own life you would think, would have to include being aware of yourself as much as possible.

So a new chapter begins and it will be interesting to see how much of issues in my life that I am dissatisfied with will start to shift with the physical changes. Will my interactions with other be different, even the way I use my body in the day to day must be affected. Then there is all the physical things that I do in life. They will certainly be affected by the change. That is part of the fun when you have those real moments of change. Shifts in old patterns and behaviours, recognising what you do and why you do it. It is those moments that open a new world of possibility and make you start to wonder if other things can be changed too. It only took twenty years to sort this problem, I am certain I can solve the next one a lot faster.

The joy of not getting.

I was walking down the street. The sky was sunny, the weather warm and the two student approaching me with a look of quiet desperation in their eyes, were on a mission. Collecting for charity is not the easiest job, certainly it would be high on the list of jobs that I would never want to do and I appreciate the effort people make when they do. They were collecting for HIV research and after I handed over the money that I had decided to give, they gave me a piece of cheap plastic to wear around my wrist.

I’m not certain how or when it happened exactly, but somewhere along the way, charity donations became an exchange, a marketing exercise. These days, there is a ribbon day for just about anything, wrist bands, broaches, pins, badges, pens. The sheer volume of rubbish that charities want to give you for making a donation is legendary. Then there are the more insidious donation requests that require your credit card, sticking you on a mailing list and mounds of paperwork every few months or so. I’m certain marketing agencies spend a great many dollars coming up with their shtick to make you remember their charity. A way to make their cause the flavour of said day. World “give a donation” day, but honestly, I think it’s getting a bit much.

I have spent a great deal of time in call centres and I know all about what goes on inside those charity collection agencies. Staff are forced to browbeat those who have made a donation with good intentions, determined to get every single cent out of them that they possibly can. Now I am certain that every charity will tell you that they never do that, but they do. They outsource to some company who takes a group of backpackers and gives them a list of people to pursue relentlessly. I understand that there are finite resources, especially when it comes to charitable work and that charities are under great pressure to get funding however, often the people being chased for additional contributions are people with good hearts who can barely afford what they are giving as it is. Charity shouldn’t be like this. Charity shouldn’t be something a person with an open heart dreads.

There was a story I saw about a couple from somewhere in the US. (Yes I know the specifics but I am choosing not to share.) They made an “anonymous” donation to a charity and now there is a news story about this. I have seen several links to the story. The feel good moments that the media latch on to whilst they try and remind us how terrible the world is. Anonymous is anonymous and you have to wonder if the same people who made the donation would make the same donation again knowing what will happen as a result. Charity isn’t about getting your name in the paper and it probably shouldn’t be about getting stuff either. It never used to be.

In the bad old days there were stories about fraudulent charity collectors, money was harder to track, and I imagine there is a higher risk that something would happen to the funds, but for me, I probably gave more. At the most when I give a donation, I just want a receipt if it is for a decent amount. I’ll probably lose it but there is always the chance that it ends up on my tax return and that seems fair to me. Certainly I find it easier to give money to the beggar on the street and even though I know that there is a good chance that the money will probably not go exactly where I would like it to go but that’s how it goes sometimes.

I am not the most charitable person out there but I like to give when I have a few dollars. It makes me feel good knowing that the coffee I was going to get is now going to returning someone’s eyesight or a goat for a village somewhere. It can be a spur of the moment thing and I take great pleasure from the act. I don’t need other people to know what I did. I don’t need some useless keepsake and mounds of paperwork or hired guns trying to get more money out of me. I have never met anyone yet who said that they enjoyed giving their credit card details to random people on the street for regular contributions with a hefty minimum monthly donation.

I want to give, I want to give more than I do, but I want to do it quickly,  anonymously and be able to wander away imagining that coffee I am not drinking.