Poppy Madness

It’s that time of year once more. Chronologically speaking, it is Halloween.  However,  I am referring to a time period that is more applicable to my personal universe.
In a nutshell, due to various circumstances of the life in which I live (one of which being my employment, the 2ed being my overly functional brain), the period between Back To School in September and New Years tends to be hellish. Its a combination of increased workloads, short-tempered consumers, and an endless supply of mindless babble. Don’t get me wrong, increased work does not overly bother me (I used to easily cope with the pressures of a fairly well oiled fast food machine). It is everything else that is unique to people that makes things difficult.
While back to school and hungry spawn bring an increase in traffic to retail, the real hell begins before the holidays. Primarily in the final days before the holidays, when the last minute shoppers flock to the store in a haste to pick up leftovers. Despite typically WEEKS of anticipation of the holidays (in terms of sales and available inventory) on the part of the retailers. Its a time of frustration and amusement for me, when that the happy and positive connotation of the upcoming holiday often stands in stark contrast to the often bitter or disrespectful holiday shopper. I am NOT saying that this is a rule of thumb by ANY means, and I am very likely influenced by my biases (particularly misanthropy). But for every one of me (of which there are likley few), there are probably tenfold more people influenced by the very opposite bias.

Either way, it goes like this. First, comes school, then Thanksgiving, then the period between it and Remembrance Day, and then the ultimate leadup (and subsequent culmination) of it all in Christmas and New Years. I began to acknowledge the period between Thanksgiving and Remembrance Day in recent times due to idiotic controversies coming up in recent years.
These controversies involving retailers stocking Christmas and Holiday fare before November 11th, the day of Remembrance. As though that is some sort of afront to the Veterans of past and present.

I would have thought that the nasty shift towards right-wing authoritarianism worldwide was far more of an insult to such people, but hey . . . what do I know? I just hate people.

So far, I have not seen this attempted retail shaming come up in the trending discourses of social media. But we’re still 2 weeks out, and the stores still have leftover sugar-laden treats to dispose of in order to make room. So that is not the focus of this piece.

Instead, my focus will be on another form of retail shaming. And I didn’t spot this on social media, either. This story is straight from an email prepared by legitamite Canadian news agency CTV.  And the controversy . . . a retailer rejecting sales of poppies.

Nova Scotia Legion branch ‘hurt’ by Dollarama’s rejection of poppy trays

Volunteers of a Royal Canadian Legion branch in Elmsdale, N.S., say they are hurt and disappointed by the way a local Dollarama rejected the non-profit’s poppy tray and donation boxes.

On Oct. 27, volunteers from the Elmsdale Legion carried out their annual delivery of poppies and donation boxes to local businesses. That afternoon, an employee from Elmsdale’s Dollarama came by the Legion’s office to return two poppy trays delivered to the store earlier in the day.

“She explained that she was working at the Dollarama when the poppies were delivered, and that when one of the supervisors came in, the supervisor got upset and said they weren’t allowed to do the poppy campaign,” Ann Creamer, president of the Elmsdale Legion, told CTV Atlantic.

The employee told Creamer that the supervisor threw the two poppy trays left by Legion volunteers “underneath the cabinet.”

“[The employee] was upset because relatives of hers were veterans, and her husband is in the military,” Creamer said. “She totally supported the poppy campaign, so she was upset that her employer wasn’t supporting it.”

The language used is interesting.  In a nutshell, the bias of the author is obvious. Not that I didn’t expect that. Much like reading an article about any other sacred Canadian trait (such as hockey or The Tragically Hip), its expected.

Also, the angry employee is wrong about the company not supporting the poppy campaign. More on that later.

In a statement, a Dollarama spokesperson told CTV Atlantic that the Elmsdale Dollarama was acting in accordance with the retailer’s nation-wide policy to prevent theft.

“Dollarama does not allow for the placement of unattended donation boxes from any third party at the cash or elsewhere in the store,” the statement said. “Check-out areas are high-traffic zones for associates to manage, with limited space, and unfortunately, a high risk for theft.”

It’s an understandable policy, really. The staff has enough responsibility keeping an eye on its own inventory without taking on the responsibility of third-party assets as well.

Not that such a policy explanation is even necessary. It’s private property. Subject to whatever rules they choose to enact and enforce.

To go one step further, one often hears about how the troops “fought for our freedoms!“. By extension, one would assume that to include the right to have reasonable control over the happenings on one’s private property. Which makes this shamming campaign look very eyebrow-raisingly authoritarian.

Isn’t it ironic . . . don’t ya think?

According to Legion member and volunteer Marion Manning, the nation-wide policy hasn’t been as firm in recent years.

“Last year we received a phone call from them asking us to bring up trays – they wanted to put them on their counters,” Manning told CTV Atlantic.

Two years ago, however, the poppies were turned down upon arrival at Elmsdale’s Dollarama, Manning said, calling the policy confusing and hurtful.

“It’s disrespectful to [my husband] Gary, putting his life on the line, and other vets. It just shouldn’t be happening.”

Manning has written a letter to Dollarama, but for now the poppy trays will remain off the retailer’s counters.

Write away.

If (when?) this hits social media, the retailer will more than likely listen, lest have to deal with an even temporary boycott of social media users that think they have accomplished some good in the world. Nothing like using public pressure and bandwagons to fix a non-issue.

The stores take the trays some years, and not others . . . disrespectful?
Deal with it. People have to shop more retailers than just the dollar store anyway. There are plenty of places that these trays can be situated.

What is disrespectful is this parading of one’s status as a military family member in the name of shaming a private entity into reversing a PERFECTLY legitimate policy.
And while it does not surprise me that this would make it into the national news media, it’s disheartening.

In its statement, Dollarama also said the company donates $10,000 to the Royal Canadian Legion’s poppy fund every year.

And there it is.

Unless this employee plans on matching this, I think that this conversation is over.

Still, some Elmsdale Legion volunteers said they won’t be shopping at any Dollarama locations in the near future.

And again, there it is. On the other hand, at least they are honest about it!

They won’t shop there in the NEAR future. However, come holiday time when the need for cheap foreign made gifts, wrapping paper, and knick-knacks comes along, all is forgiven!

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