Every time a bell rings …
If you can’t see the above-embedded video of Tinker the Bell-Ringing Horse, click on the link.
They’re everywhere – except for some places – those Salvation Army bell ringers. They’re part of the Holiday scenery. Mostly they just ring and wait. Most passers-by avoid eye contact, even when slipping money into the kettle like we’re tipping a snooty maitre d’s.
Maybe that’s just me serving a little karma time? Probably because of the Christmas I yelled at a harlequin.
I know I wouldn’t scream at Tinker.
I’d want to pet him while cooing babytalk. Then, I’d run to the closest ATM for more money. Maybe I’d give them a twenty and set up a lawn chair nearby? Then, for the next week, I’d make up the personal budgetary gap by eating apples and peanut butter at home.
Tinker the Bell Ringing mini horse is a big earner for the Salvation Army in southeastern Wisconsin. Sources vary about how much more Tinker draws into that kettle than his human colleagues do. Some say he pulls in double the money, some say ten times the dough. A Milwaukee paper produced this video about him. Check out his ride to and from work.
If you can’t see the above-embedded video, click on the link to this video made by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel of Tinker.
The horsey kisses might be free. Or they might boost the amount donated.
Tinker’s such a celeb that WISN-TV posted a schedule of his appearances.
I imagine he does a lot better than that harlequin bell ringer from a few years ago. You know, the one I yelled at? The one I mentioned earlier in the post. (I understand. I almost forgot, too.)
I haven’t seen him since. I hope I didn’t traumatize him so much that he hung up his pointy cap with all the bells.
This is what happened … I had been on high-dose prednisone for months. The unsurprising side effects of triple-digit blood pressure numbers on both sides and bloating made me look like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from GHOSTBUSTERS.
I had to shuffle around sockless in unlaced hiking boots in December because my feet were too swollen to wear anything else. I seethed constantly. Pent up energy made me want to rage through the streets like, well, You Know Who.
Because I had to avoid salt and hidden sodium in foods to avoid more bloating and bigger BP numbers, I had to cook all my own meals and shop for all the fresh ingredients. Gentle reader, that got old fast.
On one of my many trips for groceries, I spotted a new donation bell ringer in front of the store. This one had gone all out, dressed up in a blue and silver harlequin suit complete with the pointy cap. He greeted customers entering and exiting the store with merry patter.
Because it was a Saturday before Christmas, I’d had to park way out in the parking lot. I shuffled stiffly and painfully up to the store. He brightly suggested I smile.
I lit into him about how sick I was. About how hard it was for me to get from one place to another. That maybe I had a reason not to smile.
The harlequin’s face drooped and melted in shock in a bit of role reversal. That time, the Marshmallow Man melted Dan Ackroyd first, before he raised his beam rifle.
Even before I got sick, I often wondered about all the people out there who aren’t in the mood to be jolly. Thanksgiving comes, someone turns a calendar page and poof! Magic happens and moods lift? Even Normal Rockwell lived in the real world with struggle and loss.
So, I like the idea of a little showbiz with the bell ringing. I know some kettles are accompanied by a musician playing an instrument or singing, but that still feels a little confrontational and guilt-inducing. Maybe my social skills need work?
Still, a cute critter at the kettle gets people to smile and focus outside themselves and their inner turmoil of need vs guilt clouding the holidays.
Sometimes, a bell rings, and angels dust debris off their wings.