Hearing a Voice of the Recession

Late last year I wrote about putting a face to the recession; this afternoon I put a voice to it too.

One of the few downsides of my coffee shop, most coffee shops, is that one is forced to overhear the phone conversations of neighboring tables.  The following is an account of one side of a conversation from a mid forties woman next to me.

Good Afternoon, this is Jane Doe.

Mmm, hmm… mmm, hmm.

I’m sorry but I can’t donate this year.

Yes… mmm, hmm.

No, not at that level either, I just can’t do it this year.

I understand, but please…

Mmm, hmm.

No I can’t…

Mmm, hmm.

Listen, I know that I’ve given to your charity in the past; but I simply cannot do it…

Mmm, hmm.

I don’t want to be rude and hang up on you, but you are tempting me.  Do you really want me to suffer the indignity of admitting to you and anyone within earshot that I am unemployed?  Fine, I’m unemployed.  I haven’t worked in ten months, can’t pay my bills, and certainly can’t give you “whatever I can spare.” I can’t spare a dime and you might want to rethink giving people the hard sell in this economy.

Good bye!



Yeah, I didn’t have any words.


8 Responses to Hearing a Voice of the Recession

  1. Sara says:

    No cause is worth putting someone though that. Dignity holds no value on the black market and is priceless for the person who retains it.

    Sadly there are some people who sadistically trade in the dignity market.

  2. deutlich says:

    and she STILL kept her wits about her. was poignant and not overly “nasty”.. and I just want to give her a hug.

    I wanted to give a hug too, to do anything, but I just sat there thinking that silence was the best course. But I really wanted to hug.

  3. Gadget Girl says:

    Think about yourself first. Someone should be donate to you. If banks can get billions of bail outs, why can’t we get a few thousand?

    Actually, I think we should think about others first, but that’s just me.

  4. Fearless says:

    I have personally had that conversation (although not in the past few months)…and based on the people I met this evening…there will be many more to come in the near future.

    The academic me is not nearly as optimistic about President Obama as the emotional me.

  5. f.B says:

    there’s supposed to be a silent understanding; one that forbids a pestering “Can you give?” when so many people are afraid to ask themselves “What do I have?”, not wanting to confront their own answer.

    a friend of mine referred to this kind of sensitivity as “total environmental awareness.” some people have it; others just don’t.

    there is the business side of this question – do you really think that anyone who is treated that way will donate when the good times start to roll again?

  6. laloca says:

    uff. that really gets you in the gut. there but for happenstance go we all.

    flips of coins, direction in the wind, there are so few things that separate us.

  7. Lisa says:

    It’s dreadful they were so pushy on the other end. How painful all around.

    Though I know it sucked exponentially worse for her, I felt so helpless – there were no words to say.

  8. J says:

    I was personally surprised by the location. I know the first thing I cut when I’m broke is buying coffee and food out. I’m sure she could have had a reason (free internet, meeting a networking friend, etc) but it is the location of that admittance that makes it even more surprising.

    Whether we look first for the optimistic explanation or question her fiscal prudence, her presence needs no justification from strangers.

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