Remember when I was a kettle bell ringer? Remember when I said I was trying to stay positive? Well, that only applied to the time while I was still working as a kettle bell ringer. The stories I have to tell about that time have been with me for some time. Like a pumpkin that’s been on the porch since October, if I want those raccoons to go away, I am the only one who can take care of the festering gourd.
As always, faithful reader, it’s up to you to decide who the guilty party in any story is. I’ll only tell you what happened and how I felt. I’m only going to tell you that this person who is the main focus of this story, is very typical of the mindset of 98% of the bell ringers at this particular Salvation Army location. As always, the names have been changed to protect the idiots.
The routine was basically this: We showed up to the Salvation Army early in the morning. There was coffee, cake, and conversation. I only wanted the first two. By this time, I had more than earned my keep by raking in the donations at every location I was at, so the Lieutenant placed me at Walmart.
Walmart has had a long standing agreement with the Salvation Army. So whatever your misgivings are about either company, whatever rumors you may have heard or whatever you see in the news, whenever you shop at a Walmart during the months of November and December, you will find a bell ringer out there asking you to give a little bit of your love.
Further down the road from the Walmart, is the Market Basket where two of the other bell ringers worked. You may remember a certain store from that same plaza that was suffering from a mop shortage.
Usually the Market Basket ringers get dropped off first, which meant that I had a few minutes of peace and quiet until we got to Walmart. This day the driver went to Walmart first and that meant that I had the company of a ringer whom I will call Solemenella. This name is a play on the fact that he once got sick eating food at the Salem Target, which may not seem like something to laugh at, except that this one was a bit personal for me and you’ll see why.
We pulled into the Walmart parking lot and there was a man working outside. He was quite a bit older than me, with a thick beard that must have gotten him more than a few requests to don a red suit and throw a sack over his shoulders during the season. The yellow vest he wore, gave away his identity as an employee of Walmart’s courtesy department. We may have worked for vastly different companies, but whoever signs our paychecks, this man is a fellow cart jockey and that’s what makes it personal.
“Oh, that guy’s working here?” Solemenella said, upon seeing him. “I can’t believe he’s working here.”
I sighed. “Why?”
“Because I saw a picture in the paper last week. There was a guy in the paper who got arrested for molesting a little girl in Essex. I just can’t believe he’s working at Walmart.”
There was no slant in his tone. No indicator that Solemenella was about to realize that maybe the man in the parking lot, simply looked like the man he may or may not have seen a picture of in the paper and vice versa. Solemenealla was willing make an incredibly harsh judgment about someone he did not know for certain and would not have had the balls to go ahead and verify the truth of his accusation.
It’s especially telling that a few weeks later when the round of accusations against Bill Cosby started up again, Solemenella quickly vocalized, “Oh, but I don’t believe he would do it.” Huh, I guess Solemnella personally knows Bill Cosby if he’s going to defend the good name of a man he very likely never actually met, over the reputation of someone he could at least realistically confront.
Bell ringers are certainly not saints. This one wasn’t even smart. But I’ll leave it to you to decide whether or not I am justified in hoping he visits the Salem Target for lunch again real soon.