I’m not a monster or a Scrooge. I care about the welfare of inner-city children. I don’t want them to become drug dealers or to join gangs. I want them to succeed. So, Neighborhood Teen, thank you for coming to our doorstep and engaging us in a conversation about a worthwhile issue. Alas, I’m giving you squat. The reason I’m going to decline purchasing any items from your warped sauce-stained Tupperware container is not that I don’t believe in your cause. It’s that I don’t believe in you. No offense.
Verbally, you’ve got the gig down pat. You delivered your speech with the appropriate level of solemnity, and you nailed all of the buzz words. You even used “youth” instead of “kids.” For that, I respect your efforts. But you can’t tell me that the contents of your ratty plastic bowl were supplied by a legitimate charity organization. I have incidentals in my junk drawer that look more salable than your motley crew of a selection: a votive candle, a bar of peanut brittle, a silver pen, and hand sanitizer. This is what the Fresh Air Fund provided? Don’t make me laugh in your face. That would be rude. Friend, I’ve previously donated to your organization, and the spokesperson before you carried a sturdy box stuffed with Snickers and Skittles. That’s right, multiple products of the same brand. A uniform display. And, guess what. He was asking for two dollars per candy. Reasonable. I bought five and felt good about my generous self, my investment, and the chocolate melting in my mouth. You expect me to hand over ten dollars for a wick in a thimble of wax that you probably just lifted off of your mother’s coffee table? You say it’s lavender scented? I say it smells like a scam. I don’t need a smart phone to be hip to your game.
Let me tell you something. Phil, the young man who answered the door together with our landlord (the older gentleman wearing the armpit-stained white t-shirt who saw you, said, “I don’t have a job,” turned around, and walked into his apartment– probably to return to work) is a generous guy. I’ve seen him hand a subway beggar a $20 bill for no reason other than that she asked for it. If he looked at your assorted goods with incredulity, you’ve got yourself a real presentation problem. You’re lucky he answered the door instead of me. He’s nice. He handed you three bucks and wished you well. If it had been me, I wouldn’t have funded your sham. At best, I would have invited you upstairs to restock your inventory out of our junk drawer. You know what would have looked appealing lying next to your dollar store treasures? Cherry flavored cough drops, hot chocolate packets, a lighter, a San Francisco key chain, and a Tide stick– only used twice! You know what, I’m starting to feel a little more philanthropic. Go ahead and take our loose change too. If you’re hocking your trash for 10 dollars each, you might as well try to shine up a quarter and peddle it at the same price point.
I don’t know what you need the money for. New sneakers? A birthday gift for your girlfriend? Beer money? Whatever the cause truly is, I swear to you, you’d be better off with honesty. Something like, “Neighbor, I want a video game, so I rounded this crap up from around my house. Would you care to buy miscellaneous garbage to help me reach my goal?”
I have to admit that you’ve got yourself an innovative idea. You just need to launch a new marketing plan. Ditch the deceit and call it what it is. Maybe Paul’s Porch Pawn Shop or Timmy’s Traveling Tag Sale. (If your name is neither Paul nor Timmy, these are far more forgivable frauds than claiming that the money is going to save needy children from a life of crime). I can’t speak for the other residents of our block but, as for me, I’d sooner support a young entrepreneur than an aspiring conman. Good day!