Posted by: bkivey | 11 January 2010

Forced giving and other things

Today’s post is motivated by an essay written by Eric Felton of The Wall Street Journal concerning some establishments’ dunning of customers for charity at the checkout line.

I have never been a fan of this practice, primarily because when I go to the store it is with a particular purpose in mind; to wit, to buy something. I do not go in with the expectation that the retailer will be acting as an agent for a third party. As Mr. Felton points out, once at the checkout you are a semi-captive audience for whatever the vendor wants to pitch to you, be it charitable giving or a loyalty program (that’s a post for another day). Human nature is to feel a bit guilty for refusing a charitable request, especially if there are others in line with you.

Well, I do give to several charities, but they are charities that I choose, not ones that are chosen for me. So when I am hit up for a donation at a checkstand I say no, and I don’t feel the least bit guilty. On one occasion I informed the clerk at a local Safeway that not only did I not wish to contribute but that I did not appreciate being dunned for the charity du jour when all I came in for was to buy some milk. Far from looking uncomfortable, other folks in line were smiling, so I suspect that I am not the only one who could do with a little less arm twisting at the checkout line.

Expressions we could do without

Over the last several weeks any number of people, from cartoonists to bloggers to writers in the print media have come out with lists of ‘Words That Should Be Banned in 2010’ or some similiarly themed article. Usually these lists reflect the author’s political leanings but some point out the truly hackneyed word or phrase. Allow me to add my own phrase to the list: “The view from 30,000 feet.”

What, is the word ‘overview’ suddenly parking in the handicapped space? Did the phrase ‘broad view’ call in sick? I have even seen the phrase ‘The view from 10,000 feet’ used, which I suppose would be the middle management veiwpoint.

Please , folks.  The English language is the richest on the planet with over 1,000,000 words to choose from. If you want to set yourself apart learn to use the language well rather than resorting to cutesy phrasing.


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