the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Not Saving the Rainforests


I might as well end the week with another tale of assertiveness gone wild. 

Sophia has a cold, so I went to Whole Foods to buy some chicken soup.  It must be “Green” month at Whole Foods because at the check-out stand, there were numerous displays and posters about energy-saving and the environment.  Instead of the organic chocolate bars lined up as impulse buys as you wait, they had  energy-saving lightbulbs in green packages.   Gift cards were displayed that bought you “wind-powered” energy.   I’ll have to go back a second time to read how these cards work.  Do you fan yourself with them in the summer?

After serving myself the soup from their self-help soup vats in the deli department, I stood on line to pay.  There was a bearded man in front of me buying organic garbanzo beans.  The very pretty check-out girl rang him up, and then asked him, “Would you like to donate a dollar to the Whole Foods Rainforest Campaign?” (or something like that)

“Of course,” he answered.

His answer bugged me.  Why did he answer so quickly?  Does he even know what this campaign is about?  Is he assuming that just because Whole Foods is doing it, that it is worthy?  Shouldn’t he ask to see the literature first?  How much of the dollar actually goes to the rainforest?  Would he be so eager to give money if the girl wasn’t so pretty? 

“Thank you for you donation,” said the girl.  “Your dollar will save 230 acres of the Amazonian rainforest.” (or something like that)

S**t!  Why did she have to say that?  How can anyone — after hearing that — say no?  If I dare no, it is like I am personally destroying 230 acres of the essential rainforest. 

It was now my turn.  She rang up my chicken soup, then looked at me with her large green eyes.

“Would you like to… blah blah…” 

I didn’t need to hear the rest because I knew what she was saying.  I knew what she was thinking.

She was thinking, “Oh, here is a smart-looking man with glasses who surely knows about the problems with the rainforests of the world and must be pretty well-off if he is shopping at Whole Foods, so he would look like a real loser if he didn’t give a measly dollar as a donation.”

I was about to say, “Of course,” when my new assertiveness training took hold.  Why am I giving a dollar to this charity right now?  Do I really WANT to or am I being a pushover?  You know what?… I can be my own man.   Screw the rainforest.   Why not be a little selfish today?  I’m going to take that dollar and… buy myself a lottery ticket!

“I’m sorry.  Not today,” I told the check-out girl, referring to the donation.

“That’s fine,” she replied, her green eyes squinting at me with disappointment and seething hate.

Now, I realize that many of my readers are environmentally-conscious and believe that the rainforests are very important.  The world’s rainforests are currently disappearing at a rate of 6000 acres every hour (this is about 4000 football fields per hour).

Well, screw you too!  I’m gonna be a mega-millionaire on Saturday!

(editor’s note:  the author does love the rainforests and will donate 10% 8% of his mega-millions to charity)


  1. whit

    Hey, the lotto monies go to good causes too. You still did a good thing.

    Speaking of wind in CO. The brewery that makes Fat Tire is 100% wind powered. That’s pretty cool.

  2. HeyJoe

    Ha! Good for you. I have the same problem at the check-out, KNOWING that they think I’m a cheap bastard if I say no, but caving if she’s attractive. I am weak and spineless and need help.

  3. sizzle

    well then you have redeemed yourself. 😉

  4. Walking Punchline

    I always say no to those things, too. I give money to causes I believe in, to organizations that I know are doing good things with my money (and I like knowing ALL of the money I’m giving is going to that organization)…but I always feel like a jerk when I say no.

  5. ajooja

    I’d like to have five or six of those big-ass fan things in my back yard. I’m sure my small town suburban neighbors would hate me, but fuck them! I very much think people should have the right to do what they want, no matter what that is.

  6. psychomom

    When you win the lotto, you will be loaded in “Green” and I will be “Green” with envy.

    Can I have that other 2%? I need some Fat Tire.

  7. Otir

    I have started to write a note on tsedaka and it is still stuck in my draft folder – it has for month. The advantage of tsedaka against charity is that there’s no need for assertiveness. I hate the guilt that you get from not giving to charities as if you did not care (charity comes from a latin word meaning to care).

    Well I guess I should go back to my note and finish writing it. Some day.

  8. Akaky

    windpowered chicken soup? whoever heard of such a thing?

  9. OMSH

    The reason donations are pushed in public arenas like check-out lines,movie theaters (do they still pass the bucket in theaters?), churches, etc… is because they are COUNTING on peer pressure to get you to give.

    And that is never an educated gift. They should give a flyer and allow you to mail it in, donate online if you feel the need, and/or give at the box at the back of the sanctuary.

    Public giving is all about the guilt.

    It is what we give when we are not being watched that really speaks to our heart – it just doesn’t speak so well to the million dollar non-profit groups with their bloated staffs.

    I’m feeling snarky.
    Oh my.

  10. Neil

    What Whole Foods should do is charge you a dollar less for their seven dollar organic pomengranate juice and THEN ask you to donate that dollar to charity.

  11. Porter

    They do the same thing at PetSmart. You either donate a dollar or you hate puppies.

  12. Neil

    After conferring with Sophia and my mother, I have decided to reduce the amount of the mega-millions that I give to the rainforests to 5%. Still, not bad. And we WILL get the better light bulbs.

    Hey, we have a Prius. What do YOU drive?!

  13. Diane Mandy

    For some reason, I don’t mind donating the extra dollar to the rain forest (Whole Foods), to children’s miracle network (Food Lion) or to the local animal shelter (PetSmart). But when the empty popcorn buckets show up at the movie theater for the Will Roger’s Foundation, that’s where I draw the line. Talk about a captured audience! And after all, I am there to escape from life’s problems, not to be reminded of them.

  14. Bec

    Solar panels on our house. Yeah baby, that means our natural gas usage is ridiculously small. That means we get to be smug. And we had planning permission put in (and subsequently refused) for a small wind turbine. Smuggedy smuggedy smugness.

    Oh, totally agree with what you did. And she was totally in awe or your intellect.

  15. Danny

    Good for you. I’m sure those are worthy causes but I’m sick of being guilt-tripped into giving at Whole Foods (they are particularly aggressive about it at the Santa Monica store) without being able to do my OWN research on where I choose to give. It’s uncomfortable to pick such a thing to practice your assertiveness on but I still applaud you for doing it!

  16. Marge

    I care a lot about preservation and conservation, the environment and yes, the rainforests too. BUT last time I checked, green means naive. Oh and Gore and his carbon credit scam can kiss miy shiny metal ass. Kudos to your assertiveness.

  17. nelumbo

    Hey, my jetta TDI gets about the same mileage as the Prius. Maybe it’s not as eco-cool, but it has heated leather seats. Eat my diesel smoke!

  18. Long Story Longer

    Totally inspirational. Go Neil!

  19. Neil

    Nelumbo — not you, Mrs. Botany!

    Danny — It would have been OK if the salesgirl didn’t CONGRATULATE the guy in front of me who gave a dollar, which put undo pressure on me to do the same.

    Bec — You mean you actually have your own wind turbine on your property? Where exactly do you live in England?

  20. 230 acres of essential rainforest

    You kill us, Neil. Yes, you, Neil, are personally responsible for our untimely demise…

  21. Neil

    Thanks a lot, last commenter. Now how am I going to sleep? Luckily, I bought some Odwalla Passion Fruit Juice with Acai from the Rainforests (with essential Antioxidants) at Whole Foods to help me sleep better.

  22. Shannon

    Neil…you’re living on the wild side of things aren’t you?

  23. V-Grrrl


    The rainforest cause is SO last year. You’re completely hip and plugged in–no one in LA should be supporting the rainforest now, unless they want to advertise how CLUELESS they are.

    All the A-List celebrities are into Africa or Global Warming. When it comes to saving the world, why trust non-rofits and academics. I’m counting on Hollywood brainpower and moral leadership.

  24. Partially Insane

    Yes, I’m going to hold you personally responsible for global warming. And as a side note, the GA lottery paid for 100% of my college education. Can’t beat that!

  25. Pearl

    Poor clerks who have to keep asking if one has their members card or would like to get one today or donate to the breakfast program or summer camp or rainforest or whatever.

    Want to spread a little of your millions to your readers too before sending the rest to the rainforest? 😉

  26. Roy

    Just wanted to be put down for an “agree,” if anyone’s counting. That is truly obnoxious. You should have stood there holding up the line while explaining to the clerk your favorite charity, and would she like to give YOU a dollar. Well, not really, but like that.

    I get stopped on the street all the time by people who are saying stuff like, “Hey man I just got out of jail,” (just a hint of intimidation, but nothing prosecutable,) “…and I’m trying to get a bus ticket to Butler, Missouri and I just need another dollar eighty-seven.” (Nice touch–the specific amount) To which I reply, “well, first, what were you in for?” (and if it wasn’t for beating up people on the street,) “And, why Butler? I will GIVE you a ticket to Lincoln, Nebraska…” which is right when I usually get shivved.

  27. Jennifer

    I have a hard time believing one measly dollar will tip the balance. Besides, if you’re shopping at Whole Foods (or Whole Paycheck as we like to call it) you need the dollar!

  28. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    I hear you, I hate pressure of any kind at the check-out stand, even from Whole Foods when it goes to things I believe in. Good for you for standing your ground.

    P.S. Our whole house is powered by wind. Colorado has a volunteer wind program through our major energy company and it is so successful that it hardly even costs anything extra any more. Yay me!

  29. teahouseblossom

    It’s ok, Neil. No guilt necessary. For all you know, she figured you were a regular customer and had already given $1 10 previous times that week!

  30. Lynette

    Neil –

    I know this isn’t related to your current post, but I’ve been wondering – The great interview experiment – who’s interviewing you?

  31. Neil

    Lynette, I like you already. I was waiting for someone to ask me that question. Not yet…

  32. better safe than sorry

    i hate being solicited for donations when i’m out grocery shopping or at the mall, i find it worse than the door-to-door solicitations. i always decline, i feel like i’ve reached a donation overload, it might only be a dollar, but i’m at the grocery store almost every day, sometimes more than once a day, that dollar adds up.

  33. Lynette

    Great! I volunteer. If you’ll have accept such a proposal from a lowly “nobody” like me. How much time do I have to craft my pulitzer-prize winning questions?

  34. Loralee

    They are probably going to put “Neil destroyed a million acres of rain forest that one day in Whole Foods” on your tombstone. Just so you know.


  35. claire

    Neil, you can save the rain forest 11.4 sq.ft. at a time for free by visiting here and clicking once a day. [Sponsors pay based on clicks received.]

  36. C

    What a great post! Great blog too, btw!
    Though I support a few causes (environmental, social, etc), I don’t like being solicited to give donations either. I would rather pick and choose…and do lots of research first before handing money over to anyone.

  37. cookiebitch

    I bet the bitch was pocketing the dollar.

    You have a problem with assertiveness. I have a problem with trust. We’re all fucked up in our own unique way 🙂

  38. Black Belt Mama

    I hate how every store tries to hit you up for money everywhere. If you said “yes” everytime it would really add up. I give plenty of money to charities, but I like to do so on my own terms. Peer pressure in busy grocery store lines is just not cool.

  39. Jack

    I would have told them that I need every spare dollar to fill up my Hummer.

  40. Dagny

    Did you win? Because you know I’ll need a cut too. Ummm, I mean my charity.

  41. V-Grrrl

    Ha, ha, ha. Jack is SO FUNNY. My first laugh of the day–thanks!

  42. Cathy

    Ha! Just the other day I did not help feed some kids, or something like that. I don’t know what it was – but she (cashier) asked and I said no. It felt good to say no. Later that day I sent $30 to St. Jude’s Children Hospital. Maybe I was feeling a bit guilty.

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