God bless our beloved firemen. Who else would stop everything, at any hour, to put out a burning building? They do get paid though and I’m sure the benefits are great, besides, it’s all about job security: we’ll always have fires. But…I do question the sanity of asking for money at a traffic light.
Here in Southwest Florida, especially in season, traffic is bad enough without some guy, even a beloved fireman, asking for money at a red light. Our beloved senior citizens as well as some other sleepy drivers, don’t always recognize when the light turns green. I hate to honk my horn at somebody, especially while they’re putting money in a fireman’s boot. Here in Collier and Lee counties, home of Ft Meyers, Naples and Bonita Springs, it seems it’s ok to have people, at least firemen, ask for money at traffic lights. The other day, I honestly didn’t have any singles so I couldn’t give. I felt bad, and began to feel even worse when I missed the green light and had to over-stay my vist at a particular intersection. It’s not that the weather wasn’t great as it often is this time of year in Southwest Florida, but I’d rather be at the beach, by a pool, even shopping would be better than hanging out at an interesection while people are hung up getting money out of their pocket. Nobody wants bad karma from a fireman collecting for charity….if my house goes up in flames, I don’t want these guys to remember the dead beat who wouldn’t give: what if they’re taking license plate numbers from those who didn’t cough up some dough?
I’m not even sure what charity the fireman are collecting for. Do I need to even ask? Wouldn’t getting into such a conversation at a traffic light delay things? I’m sure the money isn’t going to Al-Qaeda but I sometimes hesitate just blindly giving money because there’s a fireman’s boot in my face. It’s easy to feel guilty when you’re approached for money, besides, what if I just gave at the previous light? Do I have to give such an explanation? How much should we talk with these guys anyway, a traffic light is there to control …traffic, not run a charity. Don’t get me wrong, I give money to charity from time to time, just ask my favorite bartender. But seriously, sometimes I have to admit, I just don’t want to be bothered. With traffic conjestion, I’m not sure we need another distraction at the intersection. We already have some 90 year olds still at the wheel they can barely see over. We also have some twit who cannot talk and drive doing just that, along with a screaming kid in the backseat: do we really need people asking for money on top of all this? Maybe a sign on the corner, explaining (briefly) what the charity is, and a person there with a basket. The sign could even say,”honk if you wanna give to homeless kids”.
I remember living in Los Angeles during the early 1990s, at the time of the Gulf War. It was common for some homeless people to hang around grocery store entrances and ask for money. Talk about feeling guilty. You come out with eight bags of food, and a sad looking guy with a beard is there with a sign that reads: “help a veteran“. Now, pardon my cynicism, but after years of living in Los Angeles, especially Santa Monica (that town used to be so liberal, the cops would drop all the homeless there from other areas because they were treated better) and coming in contact with the homeless, all of the sudden the same guy I saw every week at the grocery store entrance, became a vet…a Gulf War vet to boot. Wow, things must have gotten bad for him quickly, the war was still being fought. I hate to admit it, but I thought this guy is no gulf war veteran: the only time he saw combat was fighting over a watermelon at a nearby dumpster.
I guess my point is, there is a time and a place for collecting money for charity. A traffic light is not the best place. Actually, a grocery store isn’t too bad because people are a bit more happy about giving when going in or out…and there’s no red lights turning green! I appreaciate Collier and Lee Counties for obliging the good firemen of Southwest Florida and allowing them to ask for donations. I would prefer that it would continue, just not at a busy intersection. Too many people have difficulty driving and talking on their cell phones to contemplate one more task.