I mention sometimes that I work as a volunteer in a charity shop. I love it. I get to meet some of the most generous, loving, thoughtful people in my community. Every person has time and thoughts to share and you'd be surprised how often I get a free cuddle from somebody! I really do consider myself blessed.
And then the shit happens. Someone with an overly flashy car pulls up and donates their stuff. Or we get a request to collect donations from some huge house in a leafy suburb. And then we spend the afternoon marvelling at the thought processes that enable someone so conspicuously wealthy to consider donating dirty nappies, broken toys and stained, unusable clothing to charity. It is utterly mind-boggling. What the fuck do they think they are doing? If it's dirty, smelly, broken, incomplete, or, in the case of food items, PAST its sell-by date, we can't use it!
I kid you not, since I've been working in this shop I have seen the smelliest, most faeces-ridden, urine-soaked, sweat-stained rubbish I have EVER come across. And I've worked in skips and tips. I have opened donation bags and dry-heaved from the pit of my stomach at the contents. I have cut my hands more than once on broken pottery, glass and unpackaged needles. And every time one of these particular treasure-filled bags arrives for sorting, it arrives in a posh car. I do not understand it.
Don't get me wrong, not all the wealthier people donate total (and literal) crap. We get amazing donations and we are so grateful for those. But some people really seem to think that people who shop in charity shops deserve nothing better than ripped, piss-stained trousers. Or damp clothes on which a heavy layer of mould has grown. Or broken toys and incomplete jigsaws. Or dirty underwear. Or wet and stained bedding.
I could be bang out of order, complaining like this. As a charity, perhaps we ought to be grateful for anything we get. But really, should we? I wonder if there's something about privilege and social awareness wrapped up in this somewhere. Does having money affect perception? Have the wealthy got so far away from the poor that they don't know or don't care that thrift store purchases need to be clean and useful? Don't they think that people in straitened circumstances deserve better? Do they somehow imagine that our customers fall on their magical bags of gruesome and hazardous largess like starved Victorian street urchins? I'm pissed off because I am starting to think that they do.