The university where I work does an annual charity program in which you pledge your desired amount, and if it’s over $10, you get to choose which charity from their book gets your money. There is a huge ramp-up to it, with emails announcing the impending excitement, reminding us how easy it is to complete the forms, so conveniently pre-filled with our personal information. For those of you who are truly generous, you can have it deducted pre-tax from your paycheck!
Are you excited yet?
But there’s MORE!
For participants who return their forms by a certain date, there is a drawing for some amazingly wonderful prize like a package of novelty paper clips! Emails would come every other day or so, reminding those of us who are oh-so-forgetful, to return our forms by the deadline. (As soon as I figured out the “Team Leader’s” email, I routed it to my junk mail.)
Then the deadline hit. Ahhh. Relief. No more harassing emails, right? Wrong! The absolute, set-in-stone deadline was extended just this once so that we could have the time to fill out our forms, since it had so obviously slipped our feeble minds! We even got an email on Monday telling us that the Vice Chancellor was coming to our very own office to bring us, the lowly employees, coffee and donuts! Yes, yes, it was true. Our ecstasy overflowed, but we tried to contain the anticipation. Anyone who was here at 7:45 this morning was summoned by our department head to “come have a cup of coffee.” No, it doesn’t matter if you don’t like coffee. Or aren’t hungry. Or have a deadline. The honor of being in the presence of the Vice Chancellor should sustain us, even if it doesn’t help get our work done. So he thanks us, tells us that the whole University knows of our department (a lie), and that everyone knows of the important work we do (another lie), and that we are vital to the University team (lie number three). Then he swan dives right into the spiel about the campaign. He told us how touched he was by a few of the programs, and how much of a privilege it is to “give back” and be a part of this amazing University achievement, and how privileged we can be too. It’s not about money, folks. It’s about participation. Our goal isn’t a dollar amount, but 50 percent of the staff’s participation. Every little bit helps, and even $1 makes you a participant! Don’t you want to be a participant? Be part of something great?
Let me get something straight here, ’cause ya know, I’m just a lowly state worker. You make upwards of $300,000 a year, roughly six times my salary, and more than that for a lot of the other people who work in my office. You drive a Lexus, are a member of the exclusive country club, dress in your Armani suit and Italian leather shoes, and you dare to come in here where people live paycheck to paycheck and lay a guilt trip on them for money? You charge your employees for the privilege of coming to work (the University charges exorbitant parking fees of its employees!), and yet you demand that they “give back” in a manner in which you see fit? Seriously?
We are forbidden from any kind of “solicitation” on campus property. How exactly is this different? Here’s a hint: It isn’t. It just proves the point that the privileged, upper echelon can do whatever it wants, while the people who actually work for a living have to toe the imaginary line. I, for example, really like the Cup of Joe For a Joe program. It only costs $2 to participate, and I do it periodically. Anyone who knows me knows that I am no huge fan of the military action in the Middle East, but I absolutely support the troops who have been sent there. This allows me to do something small, but meaningful, pretty much any time I want. But if I started sending mass emails to my coworkers, pushing hard for them to join me in participating, my tail would be fired faster than it takes to delete the email. It would be absolutely unacceptable for me to do something like that, but apparently it’s allowed if your tax bracket is high enough!
The added incentive of a $100 gift card drawing if you join today, (even a just $1!!) wasn’t enough for me. I smiled politely, thanked him for the grocery store doughnut, and then went quietly back to my desk and sent another C.O.J. I know it pisses off my department head when her people rebel against what she wants, and she is most displeased with those of us who opted not join the elite club of people who donated to the campaign, but I’m still able to sleep at night. She’s pissed off at me a lot, whether or not she has reason, so I’ve pretty well given up caring.
Yet again, I was labeled a derelict today. But this derelict made a soldier smile today, and that’s enough for me.