On Sunday afternoon, I was at Staples with my husband. He needed supplies for the office. We were at the register and immediately after the last item was scanned by the clerk, a question. "Would you like to buy a pen to support breast cancer?"
I saw the pens because I spy with my little eye every single thing donning a ribbon. I did not expect the clerk would suggest he purchase the pen. I stood a bit straighter and my husband politely said, "No, thank you." Mind you, I'm guessing he's thinking, "Dude, take a look over there.... I'm already supporting breast cancer."
The word "No" did not deter the young man behind the counter. "It's for breast cancer, it's a worthy (AHEM) cause." Here's the part of the program where I begin to bite my tongue. Not figuratively, but literally. First of all, I'm not about to get into a discussion with this young man and second of all, I'm definitely not engaging in the conversation while I'm with my husband who is in always in a perpetual rush. Meantime, my head is screaming, "Do I look like a CAUSE to you?" I said nothing. I can SEE the shock on your faces, folks. But it's true. I said NOTHING.
Again, my husband replied, "Thanks, I'm ok" as in, wrap it up already, I'm finished with my purchases. And still, persistence. "The pen is only $2.00 and the money is going to --- wait.for.it.--- Susan G Komen so you know the money is going to a good place." At this point, I can sense the heat rising and it wasn't a freakin' femara flash, either. It was the heat of boiling blood. I think I muttered something along the lines of "we don't support Komen" although I may have said something a bit stronger. I can't recall. Boiling blood messes with my already challenged brain.
We got into the car. I didn't say a word and my husband didn't either. I was replaying that entire scene in my head. I've been in Staples for years in the weeks leading up to Pinktober. Back to school supplies year in and year out, ribbon products everywhere but no one ever asked me to buy anything at the register. Ever. everevereverever.
Yesterday morning, I was by the same Staples and I needed a binder and some legal pads. And, I wanted to see if this same scene would play out again. This time, I was with my daughter. Same. Exact. Thing. EXACTLY. The clerk was a woman and I had about five items and as soon as the last one was scanned, "Would you like to buy a pen to support breast cancer?" My daughter was not privy to what had happened the day before but she sort of froze, much the same way I froze on Sunday. I declined the pen, I'm not sure what I said but it wasn't a soliloquy about the pink ribbon. It may have been a casual, "nah" which is really on the impolite side.
I honestly thought it was going to end there but no! In a somewhat pleading tone, the woman proceeded to explain that the pen was "just $2.00" and "after all, it's for breast cancer" and once again, I can feel my blood boiling. I think she actually took the pen out of the holder and I said, "Who is getting the money from the sale of the pen?" She quickly replied (as if I should/would be happy and impressed to hear), "Susan G Komen." I began to mutter under my breath or maybe not quite under my breath, "You are raising money HERE, I have to question why the money isn't staying in this community."
I think my daughter sensed a debate was about to begin and I am quite proud of her. "My mom knows about this stuff and if the money isn't being spent the right way, she won't buy anything. She is very involved in all of this." (OK...those were not her exact words but that's close enough to the flavor of her message.)
Surely you realize this isn't over, right? I will be back at Staples in a day or two to see how this little experiment plays out in Round Three. Except, for the next encounter, I am going to the store by myself and after I go through the three rounds of pressure to buy the damn pen, I am going to ask to speak to the manager.
I want to know how much is being sent to Komen, how much Staples is keeping and what's up with the hard sell at the end of the transactions. My guess? Staples has been a corporate sponsor and this is a back door method of making up for the revenue being lost as each race attracts fewer and fewer participants? I don't know. I WILL know very soon.
It's a bit disconcerting that they are pushing pens at the counter when there are dozens of items in the store and actually quite a large number of pens (in the pen aisle). Those pens, however, are not SGK items, those pens are supporting City of Hope which I CAN get behind. That's money going directly into the hands of a facility. No middle man and no vig.
Has anyone else been in Staples (or anywhere else) where it was clear an agenda was being pushed along with the requisite pressure to purchase a somewhat inexpensive trinket? Something's up. My Dick Tracy watch is humming. Having anticipated that we will soon be knee deep in pink crap and elbow deep in rhetoric, A Page Is Born. You can hop over to Facebook and hit the like button on our new page: Pink Ribbon Hall of Shame. I'm throwing down the PSA..... "If you see something, SAY something."
We can TRY to make a dent in the ribbon by refusing to buy from those whose intentions are shady. The page is open to all. If you find something, share it. If it's a blog, post the link. The goal is to assemble everything in one place. While you are there, be sure to click the link to #OccupyTheCure and like that page, too. If you know of worthy organizations that are in this for the right reasons, put them on the #Occupy page. Share, share, share...... THIS Pinktober, we can all CHOOSE to make a difference. The time for talking is done. Now is the time for action.
And for the love of whatever the hell... it' STILL SEPTEMBER. Must we begin the bullying now? Can we let the other ribbons have their month?? For the record and if I miss any, please do comment and I will amend this post.... September? Ovarian cancer, thyroid cancer (my very best friend in the whole world), lymphoma, prostate, leukemia (Dr Susan Love, anyone?), women's gyn cancers and CHILDHOOD CANCER AWARENESS MONTH. I will be devoting a blogpost to a guest and a new friend who endured awful cancer treatment as a child.
And the last week in September, "National Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Awareness Week." With that "family cluster" of disease, I think that's a week I can claim as my own. And, in the midst of that week, a day to raise awareness of the plight of the previvors. Having a daughter..... that one is like a knife in my heart. Back the F*%$k off with the Pink Shit. I gotta get past September 26th. And, I gotta get past today, too.
I love you, mom.