Dear Miss April,
I had an unusual altercation on my post prandial stroll that has left me asserting some fresh beliefs and questioning the character of my neighbours. I saw a woman with a chair on her head walking causally and chatting to her
acquaintance taking in the cool of the night. I knowingly enquired as to the provenance of her multipurpose hat. She said she “found it outside the salvation army , no one needed it and decided to take it home”.
This got my hackles up. I announced that she was stealing from charity. Probably not the best opening line. Needless to say the conversation was cut short as she scurried off with her ill gotten goods, leaving her accomplice making knowing eyes that begged forgiveness. It was not mine to give. I’m not in the business of charity.
I see this collision this way. Someone left the chair having been fortunate enough to acquire a new one to replace it. It was left as a donation. The salvation army should have been given the opportunity to brush it down and sell it. That’s the giving to charity part, no? Assuming it wasn’t broken and was to become part of the $4million the salvos pay/ year to dispose of broken stuff left for them by kind and generous citizens. If she was nicking it, i guess it was the former.
I’m also assuming that the chair made from renewable materials, designed for disassembly, no child labour was used in its manufacture , royalties where paid to the designers and it’s original packing was disposed of responsibly. We can assume by the fact it was “donated” at the salvos that it was no classic work designed for longevity and stylistic durability and that the aspirational individual offloading it had considered all of this issues prior to selecting their replacement item. If not the donor also requires some stern finger waggling.
I’m off track. Was I correct in my assertion that the chair liberator was also a perpetrator of a complicated and misunderstood crime?
Dear Charity Case
When one commences the slippery slope of consciously dissecting moral responsibility it rapidly becomes a most complex matrix of sin recognition. You were wise to put an end to that finger wagging of yours, because once begun it is quite difficult to cease.
In short, I do agree with everything you have written. You are a beacon to us all. You have reinvigorated my faith in the common good, and I feel so safe I might once again partake in my midnight stroll alongside the tinkling aria of Dights Falls.
Once a donation has been deposited at the doors of the Salvation Army charity shops, office, or in (and around) their bins, it has become the property of the Salvation Army. The Salvation Army distributes usable objects (such as this very worthy chair) to families in need. If not required by said family, they would place it in their charity shop to sell in order to obtain monies to help feed, house and clothe our less fortunate of brothers and sisters. These are desparate times for some, and whilst the taking of a cathedra from a sidewalk might seem a light misdemeanour, in essence the thief has wandered into another time and space, the temporary shelter of a homeless mother and her children and she has taken that moment of seating, that gesture of charity, that feeling of neighbourly kindness.
Last year it cost the Salvation Army 1.8 million dollars to cart off refuse kindly
dumped donated by the benevolent Australian public. So, I too would be most vexed, most vexed indeed, to witness the taking of an item that could actually be of good use.
Thank you Charity Case, thank you for acting upon your conscience. Thank you for observing your moral obligation, and do not lament the corruption of our neighbourhood as you have proven it is still of solid character.
With the greatest of respect, Miss April