Happy to Give

By Susan Irvine

Summary

When Marty, a successful businessman, sees his friend, Pete, collecting in the street he is cynical that anyone will give money out of genuine concern. He bets Pete $50 that no one will and we watch as several people show their real motives for giving. But Marty loses the bet in an unexpected twist.

Characters

Pete – a warm-hearted man, early 40’s
Marty – successful business man, friend of Pete’s
Melanie – a well dressed social climber
Karen – Melanie’s friend
Woman – a neurotic, new age woman
Jim - a self satisfied business man
2 other passers by

Script

(Pete stands with a collection box. Looks cold and a bit shabby. Enter Marty, dressed more warmly)
 
Marty: Hi Pete – long time no see. How are you?

Pete:  I’m good Marty. Great to see you. How are things?

Marty: Fine, fine. Still climbing my way up the corporate ladder – that top rung is almost within sight. How about you – what are you doing standing out in this freezing cold?

Pete:  I’m collecting

Marty: Collecting frostbite?

Pete:  No! Collecting money for the Save the Starving Fund

Marty: (not very enthusiastically) Oh…That’s a really good cause.

Pete: I think so. And awareness of the famine is pretty high right now – all those dreadful pictures on the news every night

Marty: Yeah…but don’t you think people are immune to those scenes now. They’ve seen them time and time again. Besides people these days are much more suspicious about where their money is going. It could all be some kind of scam. I hate to say it buddy, but you’re wasting your time out here.

Pete:  I think people are still happy to give money.
Marty: Happy to give? (Laughs) I lay you $50 that you don’t find one person who is happy to give just because they’re concerned for people who need help.

Pete:  $50? (Amazed and worried)

Marty: $50!

Pete:  O.K you’re on. (Hesitant)

Marty: Here’s your first customer.

(Person enters)

Pete: Save the Starving Fund. Please give generously to save lives.

(Person ignores him and passes by)

Marty: No luck there. Here’s someone. Well dressed. You might be lucky.

(Person enters)

Pete: Save the Starving Fund. Please give generously to save lives.

(Person ignores him and passes by)

Marty: Aha! Told you. Hand over my 50 bucks

Pete:  Not yet – give me some time

Marty: Sure, I’m a patient man – generous you might say.

(Two women enter. Well dressed)

Melanie:  So I said to Mark, you have got to be joking – we cannot try and update the look in the living room without getting rid of those dreadful 1980s lampshades. There’s just no point!

Karen: And what did he say to that?

Melanie:  Something unrepeatable. But I just kept at him till he finally gave in. Of course I decided not to tell him the price of the new light fittings! (Laughs)

Karen: Melanie, how are you affording all these renovations? You guys must be talking very sweetly to the bank manager.

Melanie:  (has taken offence) Mark earns a very good wage, you know. He has a very responsible job and is handsomely paid for his hard work. He’s such as asset to the firm. No, we don’t have any money troubles at all!  Oh look (annoyed) - that collector is standing right beside the door to the café.

Karen:  (sarcastically)  I wouldn’t have thought that would bother you – especially as you have no money troubles at all.

Melanie:  Of course it doesn’t bother me. Why would it bother me?

(Walk over to Marty and Pete)

Melanie:  (loudly) Yes I was just saying to my husband the other week when he got another pay rise, it’s so good to be able to do something for the less fortunate in our midst.

Pete:  I should point out that this fund is for those starving in Africa – it’s not exactly for those in our midst.

Melanie:  Ah yes, well, I’m sure they’re really just as deserving. And those of us who are just so well off should spread a little of that wealth around. (Give money, walks away)

Marty: (Looks in collection box) Hmmm – ‘little’ is right.

Pete:  Does that mean I win the bet.

Marty: No it does not. I said anyone who gave out of concern. She gave money to look good in front of her friend.
 
Pete:  OK I’ll try again.  Save the Starving Fund. Please give generously to  save lives.

(Nervy, new agey woman enters)

Woman:  Oh no! Mars and Venus cross in transit! My horoscope was right!

Pete:  Sorry?

Woman:  My horoscope said ‘Questions of a financial nature will cause you to confess past wrongs’!

Pete: Right, well, I’m just collecting money to provide food for starving people.

Woman:  OK I give in. I confess. (Deep breath as she gains courage). I once took money out of my mother’s purse – here’s $20. …It’s not enough! I have to let it out! (Everything comes out in a rush)  I used to pick on my little sister all the time – here’s another $20. Oh and then there was that time behind the bike sheds with Robbie Johnson (as she talks she keeps putting money in the box); I once cheated on a Varsity assignment; another time I bumped into a parked car and didn’t leave my name and address; I once got too much change at the supermarket and didn’t go back; (tips purse upside down and shakes everything into collection box) and on my way into town today I drove ten k’s over the speed limit! Oh just take my whole purse (throws in purse). Would you like my credit cards – they’re not quite up to the limit! No? OK, thank you – I think I feel better now. (Leaves)

Marty: That was one guilt-ridden person

Pete:  I’d rather she hadn’t given anything at all.

(Arrogant, well-dressed businessman enters)

Marty:  I’ll give you one more try with this guy.

Pete:   (Depressed) Oh no.

Marty: What’s the matter?

Pete:  Nothing…

Jim:  Hi Pete. Haven’t seen you lately. How are things?

Pete:  Things are fine thanks Jim.

Jim:  Good, good. Glad to hear it. I was awfully sorry when I heard the news. Couldn’t have been more sorry – unless it had happened to me of course! (Laughs) Fortunately I keep moving onwards and upwards.

Pete:  I’m glad to hear it Jim. Would you like to contribute to the Save the Starving Fund?

Jim:  Sure, why not. I’ve got the company car, no mortgage, and no dependents. I’ve got more money than I know what to do with. (Laughs). Not that you can ever have too much money. (Looks in wallet) What do you know! No cash on me – do you take EFTPOS? (Laughs) Sorry Pete I’ll get some cash out and come back later. (Leaves)

Marty: (Sarcastically) Well Mr ‘More-Money-Than-He-Knows-What-To-Do-With’ certainly showed some real concern for the cause didn’t he…… (Concerned) Pete, what’s the awful news he was talking about?

Pete:  Oh it’s not that awful. It’s just I lost my job a while back and haven’t found anything else yet. Money’s pretty stretched, what with the kids growing up fast.

Marty: I’m really sorry to hear that.

Pete:  Oh well…. it’s just a matter of perspective really. I’m incredibly well off compared to people who are starving to death with no hope in sight. I wanted to do something for them so I gave the only thing I have – my time….. But don’t worry, I’ll find the money to pay you what I owe.

Marty: What do you mean?

Pete:  Well obviously I lost the bet. No one gave because they were concerned and wanted to do something to help.

Marty: Actually Pete, I think I owe you $50.

Pete:  But we didn’t find anyone who was happy to give.

Marty: You were. You happily gave what you could to show your concern. You win. Here’s $50. Enjoy it!

Pete:  Thanks Marty! And I know just what to do with this.

Marty: What’s that?

(Pete puts money in box)

Marty: (Laughing) Well done, Pete. Well done.

(Lights out)

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© Susan Irvine (Dunedin City Baptist) August 2000
All rights reserved
This play may be performed free of charge, on the condition that copies are not sold in any medium, nor any entrance fee charged. In exchange for free performance, the author would appreciate being notified of when and for what purpose the play is performed. Our drama group can be contacted at the following address: Caradii@xtra.co.nz