Salivation Army Wants You to Ring Their Bells at Christmas

by Homeless T
27 NOVEMBER 2016. Despite the general perception of homeless men as happy wanderers--leading lives of adventure, wine, women, and song--as winter sets in, things get harder, and downright dangerous as Christmas approaches. Black Friday kicks off open season for Salivation Army's (SA) annual drafting of derelicts to serve as donation-kettle bell-ringers, doing what homeless men do best: standing around, hitting up passersby for spare change. The Supreme Commander of the SA calls this draft "bagging our bozos." Here's how it works.

A cute little hobo groupie approaches our man and offers him a slug of holiday spirits. He may believe that more is being offered too--a little sumpin' sumpin'--
because Cutie wants him to come into the alley for his drink. Where nobody can see us. She's going to give the poor slob a holiday punch, all right--with a Mickey Finn slipped in!

The next thing the guy knows, he's waking up alongside a half-dozen other homeless men she's bagged that day. They're all dazed and confused in the back of a covered-over SA truck bumping along the road that leads to Camp Jingle. 

If you thought Guantanamo Bay--Camp Gitmo--is bad, you haven't heard about Camp Jingle, run by the SA's "Black Ops" division.

I couldn't believe it either until I heard this first-hand account. Let it serve as a warning. If she's got too many teeth left in her, she's probably in cahoots with the recruitment squad at the Salivation Army. Here is the story told to me by colleague Homeless U:  


"Like I said, Homer, I thought I was gonna get a drink and some fun, but I woke up in the back of a truck. When they finally let us off, my head was spinning. I could hardly walk, and I had no idea where IWas I in Hell?--or was it the Mall of America?

The SA had dummied-up an old warehouse inside, to look like a shopping mall, with store-fronts that looked like the real thing and holiday music piped in.

"WalMart, Macy's, Sears, K-Mart--they even had a Hickory Farms! A Bed 'n' Bath! But when I sneaked a peek behind the scenery, I saw SA agents milling around, waitin to pinch any guy trying to get away.

"They give each of us a store. I got a phony Hobby Lobby. A black trench-coat walks by and shoves something cold and metallic into my hand--one of those damned bells!

"Next thing, a Sally's Army drill-sergeant singles me out, and starts yappin' about the bell: 'Ring it already,' he sez. 'Try it with your right hand!' So I shake the damn thing just to shut him up, but he's not satisfied. 'Come on, soldier, you can do better than that! With the right hand, dumb-ass! For Chrissake! Don't you know your right from your left?'

"Once I got the left-right thing sorted out, a couple of trench-coats take me over to their stimulated shopper area, with the promise of something to eat. This time I get a Hallmark Shop, where I'm standin', waitin' for my sandwich, when I sees this queen-sized dame with a mop of bright red hair in the distance. She's gussied up in a silk dress and high heels, like a real rich shopper. She's coverin' the whole phony mall in little, mincing steps, and swingin' the biggest purse I've ever seen.

"She doesn't look too bad, but now she's talking and she's got a man's voice that is pure gravel: 'Look sharp now, Santy Claws! I'm a well-heeled customer, see! Female variety, out shoppin. You're gonna use me for practice.' What the Black Ops done is dolled up their biggest enforcer like a woman. She's swinging her hips and sashaying around like a bull elephant in a green dress.

"I musta had my mouth hangin' open from shock, because of course she makes a bee-line to my Hallmark Shop, and starts walking back in forth in front of me. Up close, man, is she ugly! Finally she stops struttin and asks me if I remember the routine.

"Routine? Huh? I answer.

"'I'm a sweet old dame out shoppin', remember? And I got nuttin' but coin for you SA guys,' she sorta growls, shakin' that big bag. 'Okay? Nuttin' but cash for the good old SA!' Then she starts in again, back and forth in front of my Hallmark, but I freeze up cold. I'm worried she's gonna knock me over the head with that big purse, but she doesn't.

"She stops again. 'How're you gonna win me over if you don't charm me, and do something to make me want to donate?' she sez, real lady-like shakin' that purse. It sounds like she's got a set of tire chains in there. She's givin me the fish-eye too.

'Think, handsome. How're you gonna get a buck or two out of me?  Ain't there nuttin' you can do to ring my bell?' So I reaches over and gives her big ass a sweet little squeeze. Then I winks and gives her my sexiest smile--but she's not buyin it.

"'For Chrissake, soldier!' she bellows--all of a sudden a man again, and a real prick too--'Are you outta your cotton-pickin' mind? You can't play grab-ass with the customers! And for the love of God, don't show those rotten teeth!'

"I felt real bad. How am I 'sposta remember all this crap in only one day? First this little hottie offers me a drink--and a BJ too, I thought--then the coats offer me a sandwich, but not a one of them comes through.  Now this, and my head is spinnin'.

"The next thing I know, she's grabbin' my bell hand with her big hairy mitt and yellin' some more, two inches from my face. 'The bell, you rummy!--the bell! Whatdya think we give it to you for? You gets me to donate by ringin' the goddam bell!'—and she's got my bell-hand in a vise-grip, shakin' it for me.

"'But why ring it with your left hand only?' she sez, then stands back and starts barkin' like a drill sergeant. 'Now shake it with your right! Now your left! Your right! Your left! You're Salivation Army, soldier! Poor, yeh, but you ain't dead! Yet. Now shake it and make me hear the call of the Salivation Army!' 

"Whew! I thought somebody give me some bad Sterno!

"They finally give me a Spam sandwich and Kool-Aid, then took me to wardrobe. I thought they'd make me a Santa--that's what most of the boys was, Santy Clawses--but shoot, they dressed me like the doorman at the Ritz, in one of them fancy SA uniforms with all the gold trim.

"Then it was back on the truck, until they shook me awake again and put me off in front of a big office building, a real one. By this time, I didn't even know what state I was in. One of the guys said if I ever wanted to see my home again, that kettle better be filled when they came back.

"'But I ain't got no home!' I sez."


And you thought 'twas the season to be jolly!   

All of which brings Homeless T to his closing wisdom. Charity starts at home, Reader, not with Salivation Army fat-cats that shanghais old alkies to do their begging for them--with locked donation pots. My suggestion: if you really want to brighten somebody's life with your generosity, if you want to go to Heaven when you die--skip the kettle.

Just slip the cash right into the bell-ringer's pocket.