The Christmas Season is upon us. The cards are filling up the mantle. The lights are hung. I’m dreaming of Christmas cookies, but haven’t actually found the time to make them. The tree is decked and if I have to go to the mall again, someone else is getting decked as well. And I know who it would be – the Salvation Army bell ringers. I know that sounds mean, and the truth is that I appreciate the Salvation Army. I donate to the Salvation Army. I even sing along during Guys and Dolls (sit down your rocking the boat!). The Salvation Army is a good and useful organization… that needs a bell-ectomy.
Those bells are not nice bells. They’re tinny and rung with a sort of bored, off-rhythm malevolence that creates an aural graffiti for shoppers. I’m convinced that it is this kind of repetitive, grating torture that leads to Shopper Rage incidents. A little too many people in your personal space. One too many automated dancing Santa’s. One more hideous, modern and sugary rendition of a Christmas classic piped in on the overhead sound system. One more bell ringer… And snap! The bags and fists are flying. Yup, that Grandma just took down the teenager with the emo hair and one too many pieces of face jewelry. It’s sad, but it could be prevented, my friends.
And what about the shop employees? What have they done to deserve having their day punctuated with non-stop clanging and noise? These are the ones who help us find the right size, where they’ve hidden the figs, or where the last one was buried in the back room. Don’t we owe it to them to protect them from the bells? (Aw, God, the bells! The bells!)
I think it’s time the Salvation Army came up with a new donation scheme. How about for every dollar donated the bell ringer will give one minute of silence? Some might call it blackmail, but I prefer to call it “creative finance.” Also, how about investing in higher quality bells? Possibly if the bells had an actual musical tone they might not be such a blight on the sound landscape. And of course, it might help if some of the bell ringers had some musical talent, but possibly that’s just asking too much. For now, I’d just settle for one simple Christmas wish – stop ringing the bell.