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Muggers in the High Street: A Holiday Rant

We interrupt the Fifty Shades summary for this Holiday Rant.

Happy Holidays, ladies and gentlemen.

If you have never heard Jimmy Carr the comedian, and you have a twisted sense of humour, you should definitely look him up. If you are easily – and maybe not so easily – offended, or dislike sarcasm, steer clear. Anyways, one of my favourite one-liners of his goes something like this:

I was approached in the high street by a charity mugger the other day. You know the ones, with the clipboards and the optimism.

I was approached by two today, though I spotted many more. The first, a gentleman from France working with the WWF, did his spiel about saving the world and the good work they’ve done and I told him straight up, “I want to donate but I don’t have the money right now. Once I start my new job, I will look you guys up.” He proceeded to talk over me, take out his iPad, and ask me how I wanted to pay for that. I repeated myself, said thank you, and we parted ways. I disliked that he fully stepped directly in front of me to start the conversation, but once I made it very clear that I would not be speaking to him any longer, he was still pleasant to me, and he left a very good impression upon me. If I hadn’t had the run-in with the second one, I would have brought him a hot chocolate to warm him up.

The second one, though.

Oh, the second one.

He done fucked up that plan.

I was just about done my Christmas shopping and was going into one last shop before I headed home. I was walking past him and he asked if he could ask me a question. I said sure, so long as he could walk with me. I’ve done this before. I legitimately enjoy hearing about different charities and what they do. He asked me if I was a student, and I said yes – not quite a lie since I’m not technically done until next week. He asked if I’d heard of the charity which he was representing – this one being “Because I Am a Girl” to which I replied, “Yes, and I will tell you straight I can’t afford to donate right now”. He replied, pointing to the two bags I was carrying, “So did you steal all those then?”

There are a few things wrong with this. Let’s start off with the first one: don’t accuse someone you’re trying to make a good impression on of stealing, even if it’s in jest. The holidays are a stressful time, and you don’t want to be throwing shit like that around.

Second: the bag to which he was pointing was a Sears bag; a Sears bag he could easily assume came from the Sears directly next to him that is having a going-out-of-business sale. That is to say, 75% off of everything, and all he could see out of it was wrapping paper. The other bag I was carrying was a Roots reusable bag. Key word: reusable.

Third, and most important: Just because I can afford to go shopping for Christmas once a year does not automatically entitle me to being well off enough to donate money throughout the rest of the year. You don’t know me, charity guy. He shouldn’t assume that just because I’m Christmas shopping, I’m all that financially stable: especially if I’m a student, and especially in this economy. Oh, I’m sorry; was I supposed to skip Christmas this year because I’m not making 40k per year with benefits? I’m afraid didn’t get the memo. Since when is Christmas only for those who can afford huge splurges? The money I spent on Christmas is about equal to what I would donate if I donated a dollar a day to even one charity that approached me today. Hell, I’m pretty sure I spent less on Christmas this year than I would donating.

Look, charity folks. I get it. Standing outside is a bitch this time of year, and people are dicks. That’s why I’m nice to you. It’s one of the reasons I didn’t flip out on Charity Guy #2. I know that you’re paid less than minimum wage usually, and that for every person you sign, you get a hefty bonus. I know that, because I interviewed with a company to do that job. That’s why I try to be straightforward with you and tell you that right now, I can’t afford $400 per year. I’m trying to save up to pay off my $400 per month student loan payments that will last roughly 8 years. Until such time as I have the stability, I will help out where I can; I will do volunteer work. But how dare you make me feel that just because I want to spend a little money making my first Christmas with my husband special – or any Christmas, that is – that I’m this giant selfish person. Know what I got for my husband? Well, I can’t tell you, because he is my editor for this blog, but between the three things I bought him, I spent under a hundred dollars. For my parents and in-laws? About the same. All my friends? We’re making custom gifts along with a few small trinkets that probably cost around a hundred total. So no, Mr. “Because I Am a Girl”, I will not feel bad about spending $300 for Christmas this year when I could have instead spent that and more on your charity. They do good work I’m sure, but my experience with that charity is forever tainted because you were a jerk.

I get it, Mr Charity Guy; there are young women around the world – and young men, too – who struggle every day to eat. Who don’t get the opportunity to go to school. Hosts of horrible things. I get that. I also know that there are young women and men, and not so young women and men, in Canada and America who struggle every day to eat and to feed their families. There are women and men and girls and boys whose rights are violated every day in North America. What about them? Right now, I’m trying to not be one of them so that I might be successful enough to make a real difference in the world one day. I grew up learning that activism is good and powerful. Know what else is powerful?

Money.

And money is something I just can’t afford to spare right now.

So no, I won’t donate any of the -$4000 I took home this year (yes, that is a negative number), and I won’t be signing up to donate any of the $3000 I might be lucky enough to clear next year after OSAP, rent, and basic living expenses, either, because I want to pay off my student loans as quickly as possible, and maybe one day afford to put a down-payment on a house. I will continue to write about injustice, and I will continue to find ways I can help, but goddamnit I won’t be guilted into feeling like a horrible person just for wanting, this one time in the year, to spend a little money on my friends and family, and actually enjoy the money I work so hard to make.

And if you’re waiting for the next 50SoG post, the next one will be up tomorrow. For those of you that don’t follow me on Twitter (@FarrahKaya), I was delayed due to having to prep for a job interview. A job which I got, so thank you for your patience.

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