Near the exit at the Waitrose supermarket in Cirencester there are three tall perspex boxes with piggy bank style slots on top. When you checkout, the cashier gives you a charity token, a green plastic “coin” you can deposit in the perspex box for your charity of choice. Waitrose then makes charitable donations proportionate to the number of green disks in each box. The charities are rotated on a regular basis, but recently one of the boxes was designated for a local MS center. I am not ashamed to say that I got in the habit of lingering by the perspex boxes on my way out to observe what my fellow shoppers deemed to be worthy causes. Imagine my disgust at the number of people who thought that the town needed a better playground or that disabled kids might benefit from horse riding lessons. I thought about making an impassioned plea for tokens for the local MS center, but thought better of it. I’d hate for my outburst to get me banned from the store. This is the only place in a fifty-mile radius that sells Skinny Cow Triple Chocolate ice cream bars.
The truth is that getting up close and personal with a health issue will make you act in an extremely self-interested way. (Just look at Michael J. Fox. I don’t ever remember him talking about Parkinson’s disease when he was on Family Ties.) Which explains why I’ve just requested an information pack online for the London to Paris charity bike ride for the MS Trust in May 2010. Well, that and I’ve been catching up with old friends ahead of some upcoming high school and college reunions and am alarmed by the number of triathlete, yoga teaching overachievers who apparently haven’t gotten the memo that we’re pushing forty and officially letting ourselves go. Start saving your green plastic tokens now. You’ll need them when I come asking for sponsorship next year.