You know that old saying about how, if you're not a liberal at 25, you have no heart, but if you're still a liberal at 35, you have no brain? Well, I can't really imagine any turn of events or life influences that would morph me into a Republican in the next three years, but I do wonder how my disdain for clipboard-toting door-knockers factors into my whole compassion level and how many more of them I can say "No" to before I can no longer be deemed on their side.
I used to feel for the Clipboard Kids. They'd come to my door and, internally, I'd applaud their idealism, their passion, their dedication to a cause. I never even felt comfortable selling Girl Scout cookies, and these kids manage to muster their courage and steel their pride while they knock on strangers' doors for money? Money with no promise of cookies in return? I mean, cookie sales are a win-win. Sure, I was trying to raise money to keep Camp Evelyn afloat, but it's not like I was offering nothing in return. There were cookies! People love cookies! Delicious peanut butter Tagalongs and refreshing, crispy Thin Mints? Who's going to say No to that? Frankly, I was doing my neighbors a favor by ringing their bell with order form in hand! And yet, I abhorred the whole experience. I certainly wasn't spending my college years reliving it with a clipboard in hand.
I realize that donating money to worthwhile causes should be more valuable and rewarding than cookies, but frankly, I am worn down. I care, I care; I really do care. I don't want the Alaskan wilderness ripped up to drill for what amounts to a teaspoon of our nation's giant bucket-sized oil consumption. I don't want a bunch of old, white men deciding what is right for a woman's body. I don't want children to be cold or hungry, here or anywhere else. I don't want Governor Pawlenty to get another four years to further muck up our state. But I just. can't. give. Not to every one of them. Not anymore.
Is it cold and heartless that tonight I turned away the long-haired, nose-ringed kid fighting to block Koch's planned oil pipeline in Minnesota? That, even when he stressed that any amount would help ("Seriously, anything you can give," he pleaded. "Your neighbor* joined at the basic $6 level..."), I still said, "Sorry; I can't help you right now" and sent him on his way? I actually tried to assuage my guilt when he left by theorizing that his whole clipboard racket was a scam. I've never heard of his organization; he probably made it up, I thought. Anyone with a computer and some basic word processing skills can create a sign-up sheet and stick it on a clipboard, right? Well, nope. Not in this case, anyway. Unless the Web site is fake, too (which, of course, now I'm entirely considering, you know), then so much for that theory, I guess.
The thing is, I do support these causes, and I give where and when I can (even if it just means they keep coming back for more, like the stray cat my neighbor** started feeding months ago and now won't go away). But my resentment over being guilted in my own home by a clipboard-toting twenty-something has somehow begun to outweigh my concern for their cause.
I know I'm not the only one who feels this way. Lots of us hit the deck and kill the TV the second we hear the doorbell ring, because we assume whoever's on the other side has a pen and an envelope and wants us to make good use of both. Gone are the days of the drop-by visitor; our best friend could be out there with a bottle--nay, two bottles--of wine and a fresh pizza in hand, and we'd never know it unless she phoned to warn us first. And even then we wouldn't know, unless her name and number clearly displayed in the Caller ID box, because when the Clipboard Folks aren't trolling the neighborhood, they're calling us instead, which means we can't even answer the phone without taking some chances.
At least my reaction to the donation solicitation is generally guilt above all else. (I suspect being raised Catholic may have something to do with that, of course.) Plenty of people (Protestants, I'm sure***) just opt for clear-cut rage and annoyance instead. My good friend Amy is a generally mild-mannered and easy-going girl, but I have never heard a more angry rant out of her than I did the day TWO Clipboard People dared to ring her bell in the same afternoon. I have never seen her more enraged, and that includes the time she told me the whole story about why her no-good ex-boyfriend was so very no-good.
Maybe I should make a sign like Dooce's to keep the Clipboard Folks away. Or maybe if they'd just bring cookies. Maybe that would make it all OK. Positive reinforcement is everything, you know. A cookie for my cash is really the least they could provide.
* My neighbor the 31-year-old millionaire, by the way.
** Not the millionaire.
*** Kidding, of course. But you knew that, right?