Good Deeds 2012 Week 15: When It Gets Complicated

Good Deed: Met young man selling magazines, purchased a subscription, then did homework and canceled, am now full of guilt.

I work from home on Wednesdays, so I was there when a young man rang my doorbell around 5:00. I was there with the two boys and our maniac dog that barks at anything that moves. I opened the door to find a nice kid, who explained to me that he was 19 years old, from New Orleans, was chosen for a program that would give him interpersonal and sales skills for his future. He explained to me that just because you come from nothing doesn't mean you'll be nothing. I nodded my head in agreement.

He asked if he could ask me a few questions that were helpful to his learning:

Q. What was your first job?
A. I worked at the GAP in high school. I started when I was 15.

Q. Did you like it?
A. It was OK. It was really just a job. My friends worked there and I got a good discount on clothes.

Q. What is your job today?
A. I work in fundraising. I raise money for diabetes research.

Q. What trials and tribulations have you had to overcome to get to where you are today?
A. (Silence......) Ummmm, I don't know. I guess being a woman can put me at a disadvantage in some cases. Being a working mom isn't easy.

Q. What keeps you focused on attaining your goals?
A. My two boys.

He asked me to sign something to prove that he was there and rate our interaction. He did a great job. I was happy to help. And then he mentioned the magazines he was selling and the points he could earn to get a $1,000 bonus. I told him we didn't need any. But, then my ability to say no snuck up on me and I found myself saying "OK, let me take a look..."

It agreed to a two-year subscription to Natural Health. I pulled out my checkbook and he asked me to make the check out for more than I would have liked to spend... But, I did. I was happy to help and really thought we would enjoy the magazine. I believe in giving everyone a chance. I believe that this kid deserves an opportunity. I thought about the question of trials and tribulations... I can't think of any door that I've wanted to get through that has been closed to me. I have opportunity in the world to be anything I want. I know that is not the case for everyone. Let's be honest... An African-American from a poor family in New Orleans and a limited education doesn't have the opportunities that I had at his age. However, we're a dual income family with a high mortgage. We have kids to send to college and retirement to fund and a lot of bills. So, I'm careful about how we spend our money.

Two years ago a similar young man came to our door, selling the same magazines. I purchased a golf magazine that I had sent to my brother-in-law, Tristan, who was just starting to get into golf. They never received the magazine. Matt couldn't believe I would fall for a con. I truly believed it was a fluke and insisted that it wasn't a con, but insisted I wouldn't do it again... Evidently I was wrong.

So, last night I did my google research. And I found some concerning information about how these kids are treated, the little they receive, and that basically my magazine purchase is only lining the wallet of an organization that takes advantage of the kids who are selling their magazines. I went back and forth... And I finally decided to cancel my check. Then this morning I called the company and asked them to cancel my subscription. I expected to wait on hold for hours, get the run around, have it be impossible. But, the customer service rep answered my call on the second ring. She was professional and pleasant and I started to feel like maybe this was a good organization and questioned my decision. But, I still canceled.

I stand by my decision to cancel, but I wish I had done things differently. Now I wish I would have given that kid my business card. He lit up when I told him I worked in fundraising, that I believed that there is good in everyone and we just have to tap into that, that people do not have to be a product of their environment if they're given opportunity. I wish I had given him the opportunity to learn from a professional, to have someone to help him as a resource. I hate that he will learn today that the one sale he made yesterday was canceled. I feel like a coward.

I guess that's part of this whole good deeds thing, right? Not all philanthropic endeavors are always the right ones. Sometimes thinking with your heart instead of your brain complicates things. I still feel like I did a good deed by spending time with someone who is trying to better his life. I signed his sheet, rated him as excellent, and recommended a nice neighbor who would open her door to him. That counts, right?

What was your good deed this week? Have you ever done a good deed that you regretted or had to undo?


Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog said...

Aw, Lisa. Big hearts are hard to manage sometimes. Passing a card to the next kid to ring your bell is a good idea. And, as a person who is married to a man who cannot resist a door-to-door magazine kid, we STILL haven't received the magazines he ordered.


Michelle said...

It's hard sometimes, isn't it? I'm actually ok with saying no to the door to door because I know it's going to result in money, and I research carefully where my money goes. And YES I've heard horror stories about those magazine sales. But we can't always do the right thing all the time or the first time, and next time? You'll have an even better idea of how you want to handle it. And that's a win, right?

Christina said...

I learned from your mistake and always say no to those magazine offers. I usually try to hide so they don't know anyone is home. We are still waiting for the golf magazine.

Kim/reluctant renovator said...

That's such a dilemma. I, too, have heard about how horrible these kids are treated--I think there was a This American Life piece on it years and years ago. I wish there was a better way to help that kid, but as you know, ultimately, you were helping his bosses. :/