An acquaintance, let’s call her Freida, was setting up a memorial for her dead daughter, and she asked my advice about crowdsourcing. I volunteered to set up a memorial web site with hooks to a nonprofit PayPal account. Freida gratefully acknowledged me in a speech at the kickoff fundraiser, and I hadn't thought about it in the months since.
And then last week, I started getting emails from the site. Whenever I set up a site, I initially add myself to its email recipients so that I can verify that everything’s working. This time, I’d forgotten to take myself off.
The mails are receipts from PayPal. Freida is buying herself stuff using the donations. Among other things, a pair of shoes is being shipped to the memorial fund, at Freida’s home address. The hideous shoe pictured, in fact. The one that looks like hotel carpeting in Kazakhstan in 1958.
“How can she spend money that her friends donated to her dead daughter’s memorial? I would feel so guilty!” said Allie.
“That is because you are a decent person,” I replied. “Frankly, it limits you.”