Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Even chairty brings out the worst in me

I'm participating in the NYC AIDS Walk on Sunday, a fact which completely slipped my mind until yesterday. Well, not exactly, I knew I'd signed up for it (on a whim when a friend asked me to sponsor her and I decided to walk with her instead), but I didin't realize it was this Sunday. Fortunately, the website makes it relatively easy to send form emails to people, who can then donate online by credit card, so I've been sending those out in a mad dash.

My address book is quite large, filled with old work contacts (the transient life of a freelancer!) and high school friends whose emails I picked up at the reuinion but haven't spoken to since. The process of deciding who to ask for money is a curiously tricky one. It's all for a good cause and a reputable charity, so it's not like I'm asking for help with my rent. But there are some people I just don't feel comfortable asking. In some cases, I know they don't have any money to spare and I don't want to make them feel guilty or uncomfortable about that (or, frankly, waste my time). There are other people who I don't feel like I know well enough to ask, and still more with whom I'm not really in touch or owe a proper message to, and it seems rude to finally contact them asking for a donation.

But then there are people -- a considerable number of them! -- whose names I see and I think, "Well I don't really like him so who cares if I offend him?" Or, better yet, "She was such a pain in the ass when we worked together; she OWES me!" or "He forwards all those obnoxious emails from Moveon.org and HRC, let's see him put his money where his mouth is!" And that hardly seems in the spirit of the event. Though I suppose it is money for a good cause, no matter what the motivation.

Meanwhile, in the 24 hours or so since I sent my first emails, I've raised more than anyone else on my team, who have presumably all had weeks to get their shit together. It's wrong to gloat about that, right? It certainly feels like that's not the point. But then why would they rank walkers on the website, and let everyone see how much everyone else has raised?

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