Against this kind of backdrop, I felt somewhat uncomfortable about opening my guitar case and asking for change. Instead, I wondered if I could harmonize my busking (so to speak) with the relief efforts.
I noticed, as I put up my sign saying "Today I'm singing for UNICEF", that I was feeling uncharacteristically relaxed at the vast Yonge & Bloor busking location.
With the sign on my case, I had absolutely no hestation about standing tall in the rectangle of yellow dots and singing out in full voice. I found that I did indeed call attention to myself here, in a very positive way, and at several points during the afternoon, more than a dozen people at a time were stopped and listening to me openly as they waited for their train. It was flattering. And it was fun.
Donations were steady and people did seem to notice the sign as they passed by.
One man donated what appeared to be a lottery ticket.
Then, after I'd been playing for about an hour, a woman approached me to say something, which of course is not unusual.
Turned out she was Jane from the TTC, who told me that my donations sign was against TTC licensing regulations. (I probably should've realized that...just got caught up in the spirit of the times I guess.) Jane was friendly but firm and told me that I could donate my proceeds without the sign if I wanted to.
Although I was initially disappointed, I realized that this gave me an ideal opportunity to conduct an experiment. Would I earn the same amount of money when it was intended only for me?
Here's how it turned out. In the hour that I had the UNICEF sign up, I earned $22.55--plus the lottery ticket. In the subsequent hour, I earned $21.60. Virtually identical...assuming, of course, that the ticket isn't a winner.