Although I volunteer frequently, this is the first time that I've attended the "Cop on Top" event and it was an incredible experience. I have also learned that it can be rough out there!
I had an image in my mind about how things would be, but I was quite off. For one, I thought the cops would be on the SafeWay roof, but they actually had their own raised platform they sat a top. There was music blaring, while volunteers had nets to collect money. People were dancing and having a good time. It was awesome!
Second, I never realized how much hard work it takes to stand on the side of the street to gather donations with a basket. It's hard work! I have renewed appreciation for those who collect donations because it's not easy. I ran into a lot of unusual situations tonight. Although most people were friendly and pleasant, there were a few that I can only regard as "a part of society."
I was able to capture several photos from tonight. I wish I took more, but I was busy trying to collect donations!
You may be wondering what unusual situations occured tonight. Well, I asked a man passing by on his bike, if he would like to donate money for Special Olympics. He pondered my question before mentioning that we need to be more aggressive and began to demonstrate how we should be. He pointed to a young woman in a fancy car at a stop light and yelled,
"Hey, you! You need to give this girl some money, NOW! I know you can afford it. It's people like you who need to donate, driving your $30,000 car your boyfriend probably bought for you!"
The young female smiled and ignored him, but I could tell she was uncomfortable. I was uncomfortable when the man demonstrated his aggressive tactic. The woman drove away, but he tossed in 50 cents into my basket, stating "If you are aggressive like me, you'll get more money!" I have to disagree with the fellow though because such aggressive tactics might in fact, scare people away!
I had 50 cents in my basket for quite sometime, as I waited on the side of the street. We tried to yell "Donations for Special Olympics," to get more attention. But one man immediately rolled his window up when he heard us. He was afraid he would come up to his car and request money. I decided I would switch streets and find one with more visibility and traffic. Afterall, we have to try our best to raise enough funds for Special Olympics!
After switching streets and continuously calling out for donations, things finally started to pick up! I started to have such a great time and tried to make the most out of the moment.
As it became dark, however, we had to head back to SafeWay to avoid being mugged. We stood outside of the store, asking for donations, instead of holding our baskets on the streets.. There were so many kind-hearted and pleasant people who donated several dollars whenever they entered or left the store. We cheered them on and thanked them profusely for their donations.
Volunteers started dancing. There were also pageant girls there who were signing autographs. When the Macarena began to play, they started to dance and some of the cops did too. It was a memorable scene.
We continued to ask for donations throughout the night whenever customers entered or left SafeWay, when an older gentleman had walked by. I asked him politely, "would you like to donate to Special Olympics?"
"No Thank You," the man said.
I added, "Have a good night!" as he walked by because regardless if someone donates or not, they should leave feeling good inside. However, I would soon regret those words deeply.
Several minutes later, he exited SafeWay and came up to us and said "I just needed to get cash while I was in the store," as he aggressively put the dollar bill into the basket. Then he angrily added, "That's for those remarks you made!"
I was confused. Did I say something to him that was rude or out of line? I am an extremely pleasent person, so I had wondered if maybe he had misheard something that I had said.
I told him, "I don't understand. What remarks?"
"I know what you meant by have a good night and it was uncalled for!"
I was stunned. He was accusing me of being rude to him because I had said "have a good night." I figured the man must have thought I was being sarcastic when I said "have a good night," but I don't know how he could have mistaken my words. I was momentarily stunned and felt incredibly terrible at the same time. I didn't know what to say. The words wouldn't come out and all I could muster were "No, I didn't mean it in any negative way! I have been saying it to everyone tonight."
In a small way, it made me ponder the situation. But I realize, it's something to just brush off. We are there to request donations for the Special Olympics and we can only do our best.
I had a great time tonight and an interesting one at that ... I had a chance to experience the hard work involved in requestiong donations. The rejections, the greatfulness, the tired feet, and the good feeling you get when a person donates and you are there to collect money for a good cause. I would do it again - anyday.