In Which I Am Flummoxed by a Reverse-Charitable Act at Burger King

I was at a Burger King near my office (stop glaring, wife!) and they were collecting donations for the charity Jerry’s Kids. If you donated a buck, they’d scribble your name on a construction paper shamrock and stick it up on the wall behind the counter. I was happy to donate the dollar, but I felt very odd about having my name scrawled up on the Burger King wall, a kind of semi-permanent reminder of all who came through that I had suffered yet another moment of fast food weakness.

So I asked not to have my name written on the shamrock. I considered telling them to put my baby son Toby’s name on it, but hell, he didn’t donate any money, so why should he get Jerry’s Cred? So I politely refused the shamrocking altogether.

But then the cashier did something I did not expect. Rather than let the whole thing rest, and remain content that someone had donated to a charity without need of public acknowledgment, she took her at-the-ready Sharpie and wrote her own name on the shamrock, and stuck it on the wall.

Now wait a god damn minute. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I was sure there was something wrong, unethical, immoral about that act. She hadn’t given a dollar, but then again, who cares? I didn’t want my name there anyway. But wasn’t it a kind of lie? A kind of utterly-inconsequential-yet-weirdly-disconcerting act of dishonesty surrounding the act of helping needy kids?

Likely, she was simply checking a box, as it were. Some manager was probably going to check the donation total again the number of new shamrocks on the wall, and she didn’t want to have anything look amiss, so now knowing what else to put, she wrote down her own name. Yeah, that’s probably it.

So, I should have put Toby’s name on it.

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