Reflections on a stint in the Salvation Army

December 19, 2002 11:00 pm

By SCOTT PESZNECKER

You see them often at this time of year, in front of grocery stores and downtown businesses, donning Santa caps and incessantly ringing their hand-held bells.

They are the Salvation Army bell ringers.

I've walked by them countless times, usually tossing a few coins in their tins. I always wondered who they were. What was their motivation? Was it awkward to stand there, hours at a time, doing nothing but ringing a bell?

Never in my wildest imagination — and I mean my wildest imagination — did I ever think I'd be that guy.

But lo and behold, I rang the bell.

Through the Calaveras County Human Resources Council, The Union Democrat volunteered to man a bell-ringing station at the Angels Camp Save Mart.

It was my idea.

I felt it would be a good way to interact with the community and ignite my holiday spirit. I couldn't wait to get started. All of a sudden, I could see myself ringing that bell as person after person walked by, dropping change into the bucket by the handful. We would exchange wide grins, and I'd wish them "happy holidays" as they'd happily stroll away, their lives made complete by the spirit of giving.

It would be so warm. So fuzzy.

Thursday afternoon, with the bucket stand collapsed in my trunk, I left the newsroom and drove home to prepare. I knew it would be cold, so I replaced my work attire of khakis and a polo shirt with jeans, a T-shirt, sweatshirt and my blue, water-resistant windbreaker.

Instead of wearing a ridiculous Santa hat, I opted to wear my more fashionable Union Democrat baseball cap.

There. All set.