Ancillary applications for technological advances are constantly popping up. I’m nowhere close to being tech-savvy so feel like a target constantly bombarded by tweaks and downloads and applications shot at me from all directions.
The latest magazine of bullets is being fired from more and more checkout registers in businesses I frequent. I’m sure these efforts for money are pretty much pervasive throughout the retail industry.
I’m talking about charitable contribution options embedded in cash register peripherals located at checkouts. During payment processes, they ask you to round-up change to the nearest dollar to benefit such and such charity. Or they may simply ask for extra dollars.
Whatever the amounts and math, giving pocket change used to involve folks approaching me in parking lots or at entrances and exits of businesses. Nowadays pitches are smooth, seamless and in most cases, silent.
But sometimes they’re not all that silent and I take offense when cashiers ask out loud for donations. I personally don’t suffer embarrassment because I always give but feel bad about others put on the “Grinch” spot should they refuse.
I give, regardless of method or target. I’m not particularly charitable but recognize every day just how lucky I am, so am more than happy to pay a personal “rabbit’s foot” toll every time the bell rings.
We all understand how technology sometimes causes products to disappear and this is an excellent example. Since these card gizmos and payment software at registers have become 21st century panhandlers, I suspect tin cup manufacturers are falling on tough times. Have you ever seen a buggy whip?
Who would’ve imagined old-fashioned panhandling would end up living inside our financial matrix? “Hey buddy, can you spare a dime?” has been replaced by, “Hey buddy, can you spare your pin number?”
Everybody who shops knows exactly what I’m talking about. From groceries to housewares to prescription drugs, charity’s hand extends from most registers.
Don’t get the idea that I object to this practice. I absolutely don’t mind it and find no harm in companies soliciting alms for those less fortunate. It’s very good use of plastic commerce.
I do have tiny reservations regarding to whom donated money goes. Charities aren’t created equal, with some being essentially big businesses balanced on top of thread-thin dribbles actually flowing to beneficiaries.
Call me cynical, but charities housed in fancy buildings with highly paid executives are a turnoff, not unlike ridiculously flashy television preachers. Personally if I had my way, I wouldn’t be disappointed if these thousands of electronic tin cups emptied directly into local food banks.
I’ve only refused one contribution type from grocery clerks. For a time Food Lion promoted candy bar donations for school children. I couldn’t recall kids running around who appeared candy deprived so I passed.
Excepting that Butterfinger thing above, wherever the destinations of donations, I’ll continue pushing the “I agree” button or saying “yes” to cashiers. How can I do otherwise when paying for a hundred cable channels I never watch? Karma keeps records.
Otis Gardner’s column appears here weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.