there's ringing in my ears

Published on: 11/24/2012

Sally bells ring, are you listening?

I was one of many in the stores on Black Friday, though unlike most I didn't buy a thing.

Yesterday was StoryCorp's fifth annual National Day of Listening, with an emphasis on veterans. Not in the mood to waste the day sitting at home eating leftovers, I decided to talk to as many veterans as possible without having to drive to the VA Medical Center in Milwaukee.

I also wanted to get the holiday started right by ringing Salvation Army bells, and what better way to meet people? The volunteer website is so extremely friendly to use to check for locations and availability and to sign up, but doesn't work for same day when you're really in the mood to do it right now.

I took a chance and left a message with Marcy, Waukesha's volunteer coordinator, then just stayed warm indoors while the fierce wind blew outside. Seeing the neighbor collect his wind-blown trash cans from the street I went out to wish him a good Thanksgiving and thank him for his service. He was in the Marines for four years just before Vietnam.

Fortunately Marcy called back, and she had just the job for me! It was quarter to 12:00 and shift started at noon... across town! I arrived at Pick 'N Save at Sunset and Tenny just as Marcy was collecting the bucket from the previous team and the first-time bell-ringing family of singers with guitar player was getting ready to leave. I had a tough act to follow!

But before leaving for Pick 'N Save Tam and I discussed what I should wear. All the Chritmas boxes were out, so there must be something I could throw on my head or around my neck? I ended up with no ideas and just wore a maroon sweatshirt and jeans. To the rescue! Larry, proud father of the previous team, had purchased a Santa hat for the occasion and would I like it? Are you kidding? It's perfect!

So how do you meet veterans while ringing bells? You'd be surprised. Many proud veterans, especially the Marines I've noticed, where hats or clothes that give them away. I did run into quite a few and didn't interview them, but thanked them all for their service. One veteran even knew it was the National Day of Listening.

Being an indoor location with lots of foot traffic Pick 'N Save was a near-perfect spot for me on that cold day. In another hour, (Saturday at noon) I'll be stationed at the outside location I signed up for on the web... Sam's Club. The temperatures are just as cold, but at least the wind died down.


Had a fantastic day at Sam's yesterday. Thank you all so much for your generosity! You made my afternoon a lot warmer.