This past Wednesday, ducking into my local supermarket to swing by their salad bar for my following-workday-lunch (I'm still doing the 'let's eat healthy' thing and hoping to get the gerbil exercise wheel for my birthday; I already have the water bottle) I heard the ringing bell of the Kettle Person from the Salvation Army.
It's not surprising, with times as they are, that the holiday collections for the less fortunate would start earlier than I ever recall. Some of that doesn't have as much to do with current conditions as we'd like to think (in my opinion). Southeastern New England has been hemorrhaging skilled (and well-compensated) jobs in manufacturing and pharmaceutical research (all heading not so much South, as off-shore) while creating service jobs for two highly successful casinos who almost, but-not-quite, were immune to the financial turbulence that engulfed the rest of the world. Turns out, some of us didn't have as far to fall when the bottom dropped out.
I don't know if it's the same person from the Salvation Army who stands there everyday ringing the bell. It seems to be, but that might be because I get to there at about the same time everyday. A lot of us start digging through our pockets in search of change as we walk away from the registers though the way things are going I'm starting to think we need to be concentrating more on folding money than coins. As the autumn gets cooler and the jackets get thicker, I find myself searching through more and more pockets, faster and faster, heading towards the door. Scary thing is, we're gonna need a much bigger kettle.
I don't have Lori and Ryan Davenport's problems, that's for sure but luckily for them, they don't have my weather either. On the same day we started dropping change in the bucket at a grocery store in Norwich, Connecticut, the Davenports started their Black Friday Camp Out at the Tyrone Square Best Buy in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Davenport Family maintains a vigil during the day and is spelled by another family who works the night shift...they can't very well be the first man on the moon, so this is as good as it gets.
Not too many more days to go before Black Friday arrives and the Davenport's exercise in self-actualization and spontaneous consumer combustion can end as The Lord arrives in His Heavenly Airplane or Donald Trump rolls down a tinted limo window and mutters imprecations that all conclude with 'you're fired.' I cannot wait to see what the 'special gift' is that the Best Buy manager has picked out for them. I'm thinking maybe it's a big screen television for their living room, the kind that comes in a large cardboard box that's just perfect for a family living under a railroad bridge waiting for the rising tide of prosperity to lift their boat.