Welcome to Perspectives, a blog of thoughts, commentary and observations ranging from autistic adolescents to intimate portraits of urban communities.



“And how about tossing in a couple of bucks for Saint Jude’s?” Why did this question irritate me so much?

It was only a few days before Christmas, and I was standing at the counter of a venerable men’s haberdasher, buying some of its smaller offerings for my son’s stocking. At last, I had been able to start my shopping, and I was feeling the Christmas spirit. And out of nowhere this nattily dressed man was laying a guilt trip on me.

Didn’t he know that I gave generously to the charities of my choice? Wasn’t it enough for him that I had just bought two pairs of overpriced socks? Now, all of a sudden, I have to play Ebenezer Scrooge to his Bob Cratchit?

“Not this time,” I mumbled, as I handed him my platinum credit card . . . as if at any other time I would have jumped at the offer. But today I chose to stand on principle, even if that principle amounted to a two-dollars donation to a good organization. How much does Brooks Brothers give to charity? I found myself wondering, as I became increasingly unhinged by the moral trap this man had sprung on me.

Our once-jovial relationship turned into a frosty professional one. This had become nothing more than a transaction over socks, which is why I had come into the store in the first place.

As he handed me my receipt, he said, “Have a nice Christmas anyway.”

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