An old lady came up to me, while I was sitting and waiting and smoking and writing. She was nicely dressed, presentable, and shaky in that odd way that only old people shake. Rather, I think it’s better described as a quiver. So, okay, I mean, she quivered.
She sat down on the chair at my table across from me and says, “Hi, miss, are you Catholic?”
Startled, I answered with a prompt “Um. Oh. No.” But she sat right down anyway.
“We’re selling Christmas cards to raise funds for our Church this Christmas season! You might want to take a look, if you’re interested,” she said with a smile.
I repeated myself, “Oh, the cards are nice and all, but I’m not Catholic.”
She was, she said, selling stamps, too. Maybe I collected stamps? I didn’t.
Somewhere in the middle of our “conversation,” Old Lady had come to the conclusion that it was against my “religion” to give money to other religions. So I said, “I don’t have a religion.” And I don’t think she heard me. She was still going all “But the cards are so pretty, don’t you think?” and “You don’t celebrate Christmas?” and “Don’t you give cards to your loved ones?”
Blah blah blah.
She eventually left, dejected, but taking it in stride. She knew she couldn’t sales talk her way through to me. But she left not without a little lecture:
Taking a look at my one empty pack of Marlboro Lights and another half empty one, she said, in jest, but I know she meant it, “Hala! You spend all your money on cigarettes kasi! That’s bad for you!”
We laughed together as she walked away but in my mind’s eye I was rolling my eyes. I know, Grandma, I know. Now please, give me back the 10 minutes you had me waste pretending to listen to you.
I’d like to believe these people really do have good intentions, and good places and causes to put the money towards. But I don’t give money to causes I don’t believe in. (Church and religion. DUH.) I was half tempted to tell the lola outright that I didn’t believe in a god to shut her up and make her leave — but I thought, no, potential backfire, she might lecture me instead on faith yada-yada. Yikes!
The Christmas season is near. I can feel it in the air, quite literally, and in the way strangers approach me when I’m alone, asking for money, in some way or another. Saleslady Lola was the second one in two days.
Well. Merry Christmas.