For the third November, I’m standing in the mall for two hours at a time with a box hanging around my neck, and I’m still not sure why. Volunteer hours are the obvious incentive – and then there’s giving back to the veterans, of course. Whatever time I sacrifice, standing around in a building with heating, good food, running water, security, and free WiFi, is nothing compared to all their service.

But it’s the people I encounter who are the most interesting. Stuck in the same place for an hour or so, observing the steady flow of passerby becomes a good way to occupy myself. It’s a Tuesday night, and surprisingly busy for a Tuesday night. The Jack and Jones on my left is playing a series of strange pop remixes, and I’m starting to regret choosing this spot by the stairs because far more people are using the escalators.

There are a few who stop by for a poppy, and in those moments, my faith in humanity is restored just a bit. Like the woman who put down the huge shopping bags she had in each hand to pull out her coin purse, or that guy who took a toonie out from the pocket of his leather jacket (KFC takeout in the other hand), and a girl in her twenties, heading up the stairs with her friend but then turning back to ask how much a poppy is, and when I reply “any donation”, she goes through her handbag to hand me a fiver.

I don’t blame the numerous people who walk straight by me and my poppy box, with hardly a glance in my direction. There seems to be all sorts of misconceptions about poppy sales that have yet to be cleared up: no, we are not supposed to go up to you to ask for your money at poppy sales. Yes, this goes towards supporting the veterans. No, these are not free, and no, there’s no price – it’s purely donation based. Yes, you can take a couple of them for your kids or your significant other or your mother or your father, et cetera, as long as you don’t empty my entire box!

So now that you have a better idea of how poppy selling actually works, I’d like to present to you 11 reasons to wear a poppy:

  1. It’s stylish (duh! Red and black, bold and classy: the absolute highlight of the fall season).
  2. To support the veterans. (You can surely forgo that coffee to spare some change for all their service.)
  3. To get those darn cadets off your back! (We may not be allowed to ask for your donation, but staring desperately into your soul is another question. I don’t know, some people find us annoying – but we’re there for a reason.)
  4. Because everyone will be. (Poppies are what all the cool kids’ll be wearing, of course.)
  5. Because you were raised that way. (Continue the tradition!)
  6. Because you’re trying to raise your kids “that way”.
  7. To get rid of that pesky loose change. (Oh, those coins look so heavy… aren’t they bothersome? I’d be happy to take them off your hands.)
  8. To feel like a good, generous person. (One of the best feelings in the world, in my opinion.)
  9. To seem like a good, generous person. (And so very philanthropic, and respectful, and civilized, and socially aware…)
  10. To remember (the things we should never forget).
  11. Because, why not? (…That’s a rhetorical question, by the way.)

What’s your reason to wear a poppy this November?