Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Buyer Beware. It's a $30 Rant.

Take a look.

What might that be?  A clean desk?  No...  A new manicure?  Not so much...

It's a pencil.  That's right.  A pencil.  And before you roll your eyes and click that little red "x" in the corner, understand this... That's a $30.00 pencil.

Oh, you heard me right.  I didn't stutter.  That, my friends, is a $30.00, not-fancy, not-even-mechanical, will-be-devoured-in-5-turns-of-my-jacked-up-pencil-sharpener kind of pencil.

Uh. huh.

Now, I have to confess.  I didn't know that I was buying a $30.00 pencil.  Frankly, I hate pencils.  Detest them.  The writing's faint and reflects the light.  They smudge.  They leave eraser shavings all over my desks and require no less than 23 trips to the pencil sharpener per day.  I abhor pencils.

So, I'm sure that you're positively puzzled as to how I wound up with such an unwanted treasure.  Well, I'll tell you. 

I donated to a charitable cause.  And this was my "thank you".  I found it in an envelope addressed to me.  Without so much as a thank you form letter inside. 

A pencil.  In an envelope.

Now, before I get tens of emails/comments chiding me with phrases like, "It's the thought that counts" or "You should be grateful for even the smallest things" and treat me like some ungrateful wench, understand this:  I love to give.  Love it.  Can't resist it.  I buy cookie dough and gift wrap and coffee from every little kid with a fundraiser pamphlet.  I don't even drink coffee, but I'll buy it.  You're jumping rope for heart?  Tell me how much your mom pledged.  I'll probably double it.  Bowling for Kids?  Knock $50 worth of pins down for me!  You've lost your mind and decided to run 26.2 miles for cancer research?   Better you than me!  Here's my check, Crazy Face!

That's who I am.  A sucker giver.

You are funding educational grants for teachers who never have the funds to do all the things for their students that they can?  I'm in for $30!  And normally, I'd be in for a lot more ,but I bought a crap ton of giftwrap and coffee this year.  For real, you're all getting coffee. for Christmas.  Or Tuesday.  Gift-wrapped coffee.

Understand another thing, however, before you place that trinket in an envelope with a scrap of paper with my name taped to the front (I mean for God's sake, can't you at least take the time to hand write my name?).  I DON'T WANT IT!  In fact, it seems a tad trite and pathetic.  And junky.  It makes me wonder how when our state and district is in an enormous budget crunch, you're still shelling out the bucks to Oriental Trading Company for engraved pencils or coffee mugs. 

Last year, when I donated a bit more, I got a mug.  For the coffee I don't drink.  But at least I can't sharpen away a coffee mug.  For real.

More than just the ridiculous eyeroll that one little pencil brought on, it made me start to think about our entire society, and I became outraged.  That's right.  Pencil = All of Society's Problems.

That's how my Rage Brain works.  Just FYI, I'm like the Incredible Hulk of Illogical Rage. 


Why does our society request expect demand something in return all the time? Why is a simple thank you or a personal note or a phone call not enough? Has real gratitude gone out of fashion entirely?  Or do people just think that if you throw something -- anything, really, no matter how craptastic -- at you, that you will not only continue to give but also somehow be satisfied?  Are they expecting me to whip out my PENCIL at the grocery store to write a check only to have the man behind me inquire in a squeally wondrous voice, "Heavens to Betsy!  Where upon Earth did you find such a marvel of lead and wood?"  And then when I explain that it came from the recipients of a charitable donation, do they expect him to run out and throw some money their way?  No.  He won't.  Mainly because I broke your little thank you gift in the midst of a Hulk-Out.

I fully understand that not every kindness should merit a plaque or medal or t-shirt or even a coffee cup.  It shouldn't.  You shouldn't do something with the expectation of getting a return; feeling good about yourself should be quite sufficient.  But it is nice to be appreciated.  It's really nice.  Just don't patronize me.  Sometimes it's enough just to hear a thank you, receive a hug, or see a picture of what your small kindness created.  Instead of just figuring out a way to spend a little money to say thanks for gathering a ton of money, THINK.  Think about who gave the gift.  Think about who they are as a person.  Know your audience.  Grab someone's heart, and you're sure to get a lifetime of contributions.  Junk up their desk drawers and kitchen cabinets, and all you'll get is an eyeroll and a healthy dose of Rage Brain Hulk-a-Mania.  I guarantee it.

Lest I leave this on a bitter note, I made sure today to not just take pictures of that measly pencil.  I also wanted to share some of the notes and thank-yous that mean the most to me. 

1.  A thank-you note from a co-worker after his adoption shower.  It wasn't just the note; it was the words he chose and they way those words spoke to me.  While we'd worked together for 11 years and become friends, I would never have thought that my presence and support could mean so much.  And when he called me Aunt Deana, I was hooked.  I look at that note, with it's crayon-scrawled 6 year-old signature, every day when I go to work.  I didn't take a picture.  I wish I had now.  It's completely precious.

2.  Home-made certificate.  On plain white paper.  Cheap but clever.  Clever always works.  In case you can't read it, it's a Taco Bell Fire Sauce packet, and it says, "Thanks for all your hard work!  You've really been on FIRE" and "Way to think 'Outside the Bun'".  I'll never throw it away.

For just the cost of a bean burrito, you can make someone's day...

or this one:

3.  I found it in my mailbox at work.  A plain piece of paper with the words "You're doing a great job" penciled in.  No reason.  No signature.  But I found it on a day when I really wasn't believing I was doing a great job.  Even though I recognized the writing right away, it didn't matter.  At all.  Because THAT'S when the thought really counts.

Although in pencil, not in $30 pencil. 

or this:

This picture screams, "My run and your donation are helping to kick Cancer's ass!" 

That's my sort-of sister, Amanda, after finishing her 13.1 mile half-marathon.  It was my pleasure to donate to her cause.  I got a wonderful thank you on my Facebook and even better -- a chance to see her success, in full-on America's Next Top Model jumping fashion.  And her smile.

Or this:

I'll wait while you sop your melted heart up off the floor.
Okay.  Maybe I orchestrated that thank-you photo by making sure I gave a present proclaiming love for me on it.  Or this:

Not really a thank you.  But still.  How cute is that kid?  And how many birthday checks and college fund donations will I make as a result of that video?  That's what I call a preemptive thank you strike.

So go forth.  Be gracious and giving, and when someone gives to you, don't forget to say thanks. 

But not with a pencil.

1 comment:

  1. ps. You have a real life thank you note coming in the mail (once it is mailed. no pencil will accompany said note.)