Do you ever involve yourself in a cause that doesn’t personally affect you?
I’m not talking about walking in support of breast cancer or marching against domestic violence. I’m referring to those causes (or fights) that aren’t quite so public, but no less personal.
I wrote elsewhere about the cataclysmic event that took place in primary school where there was a divide in the group of friends that I belonged to. Never mind that today I can’t begin to tell you what the rift was about, but I’ll bet a couple of twenty dollars that somebody had a falling out with somebody else and we just went along – or were taken – for the ride.
Years after that incident I still recall visiting a store that I vowed never to enter again because of their we’ll-take-your-money-but- you-can’t-use-our-bathroom policy. A policy which adversely affected my two year old son. Who was being potty trained. Who was with me when we took longer in town than I expected. And who came up a little short.
You may ask me whether my subsequent letter to the editor expressing my ire and describing my experience had a memo attached indicating an expectation that everybody who knew me should boycott the store too.
How you mean? Translation: Yes.
I wasn’t just giving them a heads up – I expected them to do something with the information. Which was – not go there. Well, not if the possibility existed that they might want to use the bathroom, that is.
If Change.org had existed back then, I could have gotten everybody and her pig on board that train. Meanwhile, over on twitter, a clever hashtag would have been the easy way to get others to express the collective displeasure from the comfort of their phones.
Incidentally, Antiguans aren’t big on public expressions of disapproval – except on the radio – where, unless you’re a serial complainer, you’re free to anonymously object. But we have such amenable natures that you won’t find us congregating for anything unless it’s free or comes with some music and an all-inclusive fee.
But just this week though, a group of former employees of a now-defunct company and the present employees of an existing one were making their voices heard. Seeing as how I never worked at either place I don’t think that they were expecting me to show up.
Two weeks ago in the U.S. people were asked to boycott the stores on Black Friday, as a form of protest against the grand jury verdict which exonerated the police officer who shot the unarmed teenager Michael Brown. I think it saw measured success, but I’m not actually sure how they measured it. Lots of people asked what exactly staying away from the stores was really going to do.
In my case all it meant was that the store never got any more of my money. I know that my abstinence wasn’t going to make it go under – especially since I didn’t really expect others to follow suit. However there are some other stores where I’m pretty happy with the service and sure that my patronage is keeping them afloat.
Word-of-mouth can be either the best advertising or your worst nightmare, because there’s nothing like the tried and true customer review – but I think there’s something to be said for having a first-hand encounter.
I’ve found that suffering through it gives me the best opportunity to deliver my choicest words – because then they’ll be coming from my heart and my own bad experience.
What about you? Do you have to see for yourself or are you happy taking someone’s word for it?