Sunday, December 18, 2011

Chicago's Zany Salvation Army Bell Ringers

Orwell said he'd never give
a Farthing to the Salvation Army
In his eminently wonderful chronicle of the plight of the homeless in depression era England, Down and Out in Paris and London, the great journalist of that era, George Orwell, ended his wonderful book by saying  "I will never fail to give money to a panhandler -- and I will never put another farthing in a Salvation Army kettle."

Orwell's complaint was that, when he was a member of the multitude of homeless in depression-era England of the 1930s, the Christian sect of the Salvation Army, wouldn't give the hungry guys a lousy piece of bread with margarine, unless they endured a long-winded evangelical religious diatribe.

The Salvation Army religious sect is better than that in the USA today.

No question, they help out a lot of people with food, clothing, etc. But their vaunted drug and alcohol religious-conversion re-hab program is an absurd throwback to their idiotic religious past.

Today they collect our money via bell ringers outside various Jewel-Osco and Walgreens stores throughout the Chicago metro area.

I would just -- in the past -- throw a little change into their kettles -- a nice Christmas gesture, you know.

But this year, I actually got to know some of the characters that the Salvation Army hires.

Some are decidedly weird -- some are outright scary.
Chicago Salvation Army bell ringers:
Some are decidedly weird -- some are outright scary

I got to know them while I spent the last few weeks gathering signatures outside of Walgreens' and Jewel-Osco stores, on behalf of a candidate for Appellate Court Judge.

I was standing right next to them, enduring the same bone-chilling cold and soliciting just as they were.

This is what I found:

-- The bellringers are paid employees of the tax-exempt 501(c)3 Salvation Army corporation.

-- They are paid, on the average, $400 a week.

-- One that I met, a black man named named Kenneth, outside the Walgreens at Waukegan and Lake Ave. in Glenview, was spouting wild political diatribes on behalf of Barack Obama (is this the official position of the tax-exempt Salvation Army Church?)

-- Another that I met, a Puerto Rican man, outside the Jewel-Osco at Kedzie and Howard in Evanston told me that he was a "streetwise" salesman -- who had sold a variety of items, including socks, T-shirts and drugs. He also told me that he that many bell ringers carried tweezers, so that if a dollar bill was just sticking up out of the top of the kettle, they could just pluck it out and pocket it. (Somehow, I got the idea that he might have had a pair of tweezers in his pocket.)

-- Another that I met, a rather loud, fat black girl from Lombard, in front of the Walgreens at Howard and Western, on the Chicago/Evanston border, wildly complained when I was smoking my pipe about 5 yards from her, in a fully legal fashion, 15 feet from the entrance -- with the wind blowing the smoke in the opposite direction. She wildly complained to the Walgreens manager -- who essentially told her to go F--- off. Great PR for the Salvation Army (don't ya think?).

A few years ago in Ohio, a Salvation Army bell ringer was convicted of stealing his entirely cash-packed drum.

Having seen the Chicago Salvation Army bell ringers, I am not at all surprised.

No wonder the great English writer, George Orwell told the Salvation Army to go F--- off.

1 comment:

Comments invited, however anonymous commentors had better deal directly with the issues raised and avoid ad hominem drivel. As for Teachers' Union seminar writers -- forget about it.