Throwback Thursday! Extortion at the Corner of Happy and Healthy


06/06/15  You know the Walgreens commercials with the voice of John Corbett, the D.J.  from Northern Exposure? He’s always saying that “Walgreen’s is at the corner of happy and healthy.” I’d like them to update the commercial to say, “Walgreen’s is at the corner of happy, healthy, and blackmail.”

You often hear the line in movies,  “Blackmail is an ugly word.” Yesterday it got ugly for me right in front of a Walgreens and Josh Corbett was not there to talk me down with his soothing voice. I’m still healthy, but I was not happy. I was blackmailed at an intersection by firefighters. Yes, those courageous men and women who saves lives and homes essentially extorted money from me.

I was on my drive home at the end of a long work day and about a quarter mile ahead I saw flashing lights by the side of the road. I could see that traffic was backed up a bit, but I was trapped with no way to escape to an alternate route. As I approached the flashing lights I saw a firetruck and wondered if Walgreens was happy, healthy and in flames. Then I saw cones restricting the lanes. As I got closer I saw firefighters holding out boots to collect money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. “Ugh” was kind of what I thought, but without the hard G sound. It was a sigh of resignation. I was going to hope for a green light and good flow of traffic so I could just roll by without having to roll down my window.

A big, busy four way intersection at rush hour on a Friday and these guys are essentially blocking traffic until they get donations? All four ways of the intersection were restricted so they could panhandle like it was downtown L.A. And who carries much cash any more? They’d have better luck holding out a credit card swiper than asking for cash.


There had to be at least four firefighters in each direction of the intersection harassing commuters. That’s 16 firefighters leaving an entire town unprotected so they can extort tired people on their way home out of a dollar at a time. What if there was an emergency? 16 firefighters would have to dump the cash out of their boots, put them back on, take off the ridiculous reflective vests they were wearing, suit up and then try to get their firetruck out of the giant traffic jam they had caused.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am as charitable as the next person, unless the next person is a complete a-hole. I give to causes I choose to or that have some connection to someone I know. I don’t however like being made to donate. Yes, I know that I didn’t have to roll down my window and donate, but what if I didn’t? These were firefighters! Lifesavers who risk their own lives to save others. How could I turn them down? What if somewhere one of them had a clipboard and was taking down license plate numbers of those that didn’t donate? And furthermore what if, at a later date, at the firehouse when a call comes in they first consult the list that they had previously added addresses and names to after doing some research on the DMV website?

Dispatcher: “What’s that? Your house is on fire! What’s the address? 123 Main St. OK, we’ll be right there!” Looks at list, makes announcement to firehouse: “Hey guys, Phil Taylor’s house is on fire. No need to hurry though because on June 2nd he was in no hurry to donate to MDA. After you finish your game of Monopoly you should probably head out there though.”

That’s all I’ve got. Although I was a reluctant donor, you can be a willful one if you want by clicking on this MDA link to donate if you want to. But guess what? Me and John Corbett don’t care if you do or don’t. You can still read next weeks Phil Factor if you don’t.  ~Phil

10 responses to “Throwback Thursday! Extortion at the Corner of Happy and Healthy

  1. I’m with you on this. I support a number of charities, but I like to give when there is joy in the act of giving, but there is no joy in my life during rush hour.

  2. I hear you on this one.

  3. That is strange that they would do it like that and shouldnt have been out at rush hour, in my area, they wouldnt pick such a busy intersection either. I’m a little torn tho because i have Muscular Dystrophy. Fill the boot is a great thing, those with MD have a close connection to firefighters. As a kid i would help kick off the event and i was given a ride in the firetruck. They are the biggest donors for MDa and provide interesting experiences for MDA families.

  4. I hear you on this one too. While I wholeheartedly give, I don’t want to be “made” to or accosted like this. And while I imagine in this economy donations have fallen a great deal, this stuff would not inspire people much.

  5. Reblogged this on The Phil Factor and commented:

    This happened to me again today.

  6. The firefighters are the only ones I will give donations to on road.

  7. IMHO this is multiple shades of inappropriate.

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