Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Operation J.I.N.G.L.E. is Underway

Ok everyone, Operation JINGLE is underway. On Saturday Sean and I went out to run a million & one errands and the Salvation Army bell ringers were out in full force.

Operation JINGLE stands for Jen Is Not a Greedy Little Elf. To read more about this experiment, click here. Basically, I want to make sure I have the right attitude about Christmas, that it means more to me than just buying stuff and getting all materialistc, etc etc. So I've promised that I will donate money to every Salvation Army bucket I pass. Here is my experience thus far.

The day: Saturday
Location: Target in B-town and then Manhattan.

I live close to a Target that is part of a larger shopping center of sorts. Kind of a mall but not as many stores. Total for the day, we passed six SA bell ringers. 3 in the Target and 3 elseplace.

To be honest, I'm not sure how well it's going. I I noticed things that were a little below what I would expect someone who is not a greedy little elf to be. But, it's still the beginning of the experiment. I have room to grow. Here are my notes:

1. 5th avenue: I love that on the back of the jackets the bell ringers wear, it says in huge letters "BELL RINGER." I'd love to get a picture but I don't think I can amidst all of this hubub. Also, important to remember: if you pause on the sidewalk to take a picture, people will hiss and curse at you.

2. First indication that my experiment isn't going as well as I'd hoped: I am only donating coins and while i love avoiding any guilt that would normally come from trying to ignore a bell ringer as i scurry by, seeing dollar bills inside the bucket kind of brings back a little twinge of guilt. Maybe I'm not the greediest, but I'm greedier than those people. Something to consider.

3. Second indication, and also something to think about: As i came up out of the subway, I passed a homeless person and suddenly realized: I'm donating to all the Salvation Army bell ringers but walk right by homeless people sitting on the ground, holding out their hands for money. I reflect: is it easier to donate to a bucket than a person? why? am I still affected by my rejection that one time?.

4. Amusing observation: I realize I am starting to become conditioned by the sound of the bell. After passing by 3 or 4 SA bell ringers, and not wanting to miss any, I am hyper-sensitive to the bell sound. ANY bell sound, as it turns out. The pedi-cabs also have a bell of some kind and I find myself immediately reacting to it. I am almost literally a Pavlov dog but instead of salivating, I instinctively reach into my bag to get my wallet. This happens several times throughout the day and though I laugh, it could be a problem.

As i reflect back, overall, my experience was very pleasant. People were very grateful and i felt better by their thanks than by donating my lame 35 cents or whatever it was. It's probably a rough job. I got a "thank you and God bless!" and "thank you! happy holidays!" and i got a mint from another one. Sweet! Wait, no, crap! I am not doing this for a reward. I am not. I took the mint because I wanted to show that I am grateful for their gratefulness and will accept the Mint of Gratitude.

Now, pondering the previous paragraph and prodded by my record-taking of the ringers' reactions, I wonder if I'm more motivated by the thanks I get or by the feeling of donating something to a good cause, regardless of what people say to me. Would it bother me if they said nothing? If i got no thanks? Am I now wishing I'd donated tic tacs instead of coins? Friends, I'd appreciate your input. I have decided that Operation JINGLE is off to a mediocre start and will keep you abreast of my progress, if there be any.


Brooke said...

Well, I think the action you've taken is a good step. You went beyond theorizing and planning and DID. Many people don't get that far. Once you've got this basic level of charity down, you can work on meaning it more. :)

Thumbs up, J.

Natalie R. said...

I think you're doing a great job. As long as you're not giving just to get thanks, I think it's fine to enjoy hearing it. Even the Savior wanted to hear thanks from the lepers, but that's not why He healed them.

As far as "ignoring" the homeless guy, doesn't the S.A give the money to the homeless?

)en said...

yeahhh... but still. :)

i went out for a shopping marathon yesterday and surprisingly ran into no bell ringers. i was disappointed because i'd packed a lot of money to give. help me help you, bell ringers! be where i am. anyway, we shall see. the project continues...

Amy said...

Yes, way to be Jen...have you considered being a bell ringer yourself? Hmmmm...something to think about eh? Then you could document what it's like watching people give or not give...that would be entertaining. Maybe next year...HAH!

)en said...

that, is TRUE. excellent idea.