Apparently the donation seekers do more than just irritate shoppers
A higher than normal number of Salvation Army Christmas bell ringers are going mad this holiday season, scientists say. Every year there are reports of a few who go loopy from the constant ringing of their little hand bells next to donation collection pots across the land, but the strange malady seems to be reaching epidemic proportions this season.
“Adding to the toll is the stress of keeping up a smile and good spirits while having to stand outside in one place in blistering cold for hours as mothers with their snotty brats walk buy making rude remarks and cars splash filthy mud over you,” says Dr. Steven Peters, a psychiatrist who has studied this unique malady.
Dr. Peters is with The Social Leeches Research Center for Finding Obscure Psychological Ailments and Getting Government Grants for Studying Them, and says that studies have determined that the incredibly boring and demeaning job of the bell ringer has been made more difficult due to the bad economy. Customers are donating less, which means less revenue for the volunteers, adding to their frustration.
Physicians examining volunteers who have gone stark raving mad have discovered that the eardrums on their bell ringing side were almost always irritated and swollen. Some claim to still have a ringing in their ears long after leaving work, and even hearing Christmas carols for months after the season is over. “That alone could drive a man mad,” said Dr. Peters.
Afflicted volunteers have shown increasingly erratic behavior, such as peeing into the money bucket, intentionally hitting themselves in the face while swinging the bell, spewing loogies at passersby, coming to work naked except for the red apron, acting out the role of Quasimodo in the Hunchback of Notre Dam, and grabbing food out of people’s grocery bags and devouring it maliciously before their eyes.
Dr. Peters notes that there is reason for hope. “Once the bells are taken away from the afflicted volunteers, they seem to improve,” he said. Some have been given a Congo drum to beat instead which “seems to have a soothing effect” and has even led to some “pretty cool improvisational drum circle happenings in front of supermarkets throughout the country,” Peters noted.
Those who have been kazoos instead, however, seem to be developing the same dementia as the bell ringers.