Learning through Laughter

Bob Owen, Humorist

Sometimes I amaze myself. There are many things in life that independently are OK. But, you can put some of these things together, and voila! You reach a new low in taste. The beauty about being a Baby Boomer is that I’ve already made so many mistakes in life that another one just doesn’t show up on my tacky scale.

Our Rotary club signed up to ring bells for The Salvation Army in front of one of our local Walmarts. I like to get my volunteer obligations out of the way early in the day if possible, so I volunteered for the first shift – 9 a.m. on December 1.

It ended up being a light vest kind of day in the afternoon. But, the morning was downright cold – by Kentucky standards. As I walked out of the house on my way to my assignment, I grabbed items that hadn’t been out of the hall closet’s “winter basket” since March.

Once on site, I soon got into the spirit of ringing bells and raising money. I walked around the entrance greeting every shopper with Good Morning and Merry Christmas. I lined up shopping carts for people as they arrived like it was my job. I figured if I was going to be there an hour, I’d at least keep busy and give it my best shot.

People responded well, but occasionally I noticed someone cut a glance in my direction. They may have been smirking. I appreciated their friendliness. The more people smiled and nodded, the more outgoing I became. This was fun. More importantly, people responded with contributions.

Soon the hour was over, and my replacement showed up – a beautiful, fashionable lady who takes great pride in her appearance. As she arrived, I handed her the bell to ring and took off the red Salvation Army apron, explaining, “Walmart has asked that we wear these aprons to show we’re representing The Salvation Army.” She looked at me cautiously and said, “The apron’s no problem, but do I have to wear the other stuff.”

I had no idea what she was talking about. Then, I turned around and stared at my reflection in the full-length glass door. I thought maybe she was referring to my Santa hat. I usually start wearing those out in public a couple of minutes after Thanksgiving dinner. But, the hat wasn’t what bothered her most.

I had been greeting people for the past hour looking like Doctor Spock on really bad medicine. I was wearing “ear covers” Brenda gave me last year that simply slip over each ear and have the effect of earmuffs, without the connecting wire. By nature, they tend to stick out a bit. With my Santa hat pulled tightly onto my head, the ear covers made me look like Spock. On top of that, I was wearing mittens, not gloves, which were very warm and comfortable, but made my hands look like fuzzy melons. However, the crowning glory were my Old Man sunglasses – the kind that fit over my regular glasses, making me look tackier than a retiree wearing plaid shorts and knee high black socks.

In response to my replacement’s caution, I threatened her. “You make fun of me, and I’ll tell everyone you’re my daughter.” She put on the apron and immediately began ringing the bell.

Date of Blog Story: 
December 4, 2009

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