Friday was a pretty good day. I went in to the office and got some stuff together for my business trip this week, I made some calls, I printed some service agreements to get signed off by customers. There were donuts in the conference room, and all the ladies who are usually on diets had one and told me I should have one, so I did! It was crazy. Then I popped over to West Edmonton Mall and got an amazing portrait collared sweatshirt at Lululemon. Then I went to Sherwood Park and met my husband for lunch. The sun was shining, I was driving around blasting Florence and the Machine and Jay-Z, it was a happy time. I had a meeting at 2pm with a lady in charge of shipping at a furniture store, and I was there a bit early for that. There was a Tim Horton’s on the corner, so I decided I’d have an iced coffee. How lovely! As I went in, there was a young guy talking to a woman in a parked car about why he couldn’t keep a job. Drugs. I was in that part of town, so I steeled myself to ignore whatever happened. There were only 2 people ahead of me in line; I knew I wouldn’t be late for my meeting. I got my iced coffee and walked to my car, and just as I left Tim Hortons there was a homeless man leaning against the building who wasn’t there when I went in. I glanced at him. “Could you spare a coffee?” he asked me. I automatically looked down, shook my head and said “no, sorry”. Spare a coffee?
I thought about what he’d asked me the rest of that whole day. I had lied, of course I could spare a coffee. I even had some extra time. There was no reason at all why I couldn’t buy this man a $2.00 coffee; I’d just spent $120 on a sweatshirt I didn’t really need, but wanted. Why had I said that? I thought about the times I had bought coffee, muffins, and lunches for homeless people. People hanging out by the Starbucks down the street from my old hairdresser or camped out in the McDonalds parking lot. They were right in front of me, so on occasion I chose not to ignore them. I felt pretty good about myself when I’d give them food. That “I’m a good person” high could last for months. Hooray for me, right?
Uh, no. If I’m being honest the way I have to be when I write about it, there is no hooray for me. There is however, disgust and disapointment. The reason is that I know better. Whatever you believe about the homeless and disadvantaged, and how they got that way and what they should do to better themselves, they are still people. I worked for World Vision last Christmas in the mall selling sponsorships of poor kids in foreign countries. 8 hours a day on your feet asking people who don’t care if they want to help. That was THE hardest job I’ve ever had to do, no question. And some people do that every day, but in a more personal way: do you want to help ME? And most of the time I say no. No, I don’t want to get you coffee. I have everything I need and more, and you don’t, and I don’t care. People say to me all the time “Brianna, you can’t save the world” like I should stop caring about it. And I know, I can’t save the world. But I could buy someone coffee. And so could you.
SO. What’s my point? I’m selling consignment clothes, and there are stores and stores full of clothes. Second hand stores are packed to the brim of things we don’t want anymore. We buy and buy and buy new stuff to make us feel better, prettier, more youthful. Is it working? What if we could buy something that we knew would help someone? Just turn your consumer power to something that’s doing the good beyond your reach. What if you could start helping more by not really changing anything about what you buy, but re-directing where you buy it? I’m going to give half of the proceeds to local charities of anything I sell on facebook from now on. Starting August 20, I will be having a Fall Sale, and when you buy any of those items, half the price will go directly to a charity here in Edmonton. Which one, I don’t know yet, and you could weigh in on that. We’re all not going to feel like we’re saving the world by doing that either, we’re just going to do what we can. What would the world look like if we all made a choice to buy stuff we need that does some good? What kind of changes would that make in us? I want to to find out, and I hope you’re curious too. First thing’s first, I’m going back to that Tim Hortons and see if I can’t buy a man a coffee.