Sunday, February 1, 2009
Five hours yesterday sitting behind a table in Navan Shopping Centre collecting for a charity, Zest4Kids. Once you decide to enjoy it it's actually fun. I opted not to read a book, the newspapers or listen to my iPod because you have to look interested and be prepared to talk to anyone who asks questions. You do have a great opportunity to just observe people.
Lots of people just pass by as if you weren't there, others read the posters, move on, open purses and come back and drop some coins or even a note in. Some few ask questions or make comments. People who know you either come up with a greeting and a chat or don't see you and move on. When I looked at the photograph above what struck me was the amount of advertising in the vicinity and how easy it actually must be not to notice the charity stand.
Some years ago one of the arts groups in Galway devised a project where writers sat in a shop window, Charlie Byrne's secondhand bookshop I seem to remember, for a week in turns and had to write poetry driven by the experience. I'm not sure if anything poetic will come out of my charity day but I kept wondering what was in every shopping bag, what the relationship between people was, who bought what and why.
One thing that struck me was the number of parents with children who stopped, gave some money to each child and told them to put it in the collection boxes. Something nice and reassuring about that.