Saturday, December 04, 2004

Ding Dong!

In the United States, one of the traditional sounds of Christmas is the ringing of the bells of Salvation Army workers. These folks generally position themselves in front of major department stores and restaurants, next to a small, suspended pot, and ring their bells in the hopes that passers-by will deposit some change in the pots.

Recently, some retailers have threatened to deny these workers the right to do so in front of their stores under the theory that the ringing distracts their customers from the more important task of shopping. Generally, such efforts lend themselves to very bad publicity with the typical result being that the retailers eventually retreat from their position.

I saw an interesting permutation of this ongoing issue while shopping yesterday. A Salvation Army worker had set himself up in front of a Kmart; however, instead of ringing a bell, he had a small sign on a stick with the words "DING" on one side and "DONG" on the other. Holding the stick between his hands, he would rub his hands back and forth causing the sign to alternate between its two sides.

I am reminded of the aphormism that compromise is the act whereby neither of two sides in a dispute get what they want, leaving both equally unhappy.

As a follow up, it gets stranger. According to an article I found on Yahoo! News , in some places, the Salvation Army havn't merely replaced the bells, but have replaced the actual bell ringers with cardboard cut-outs.

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