What’s the worst thing about being a kid? Is it the evil compulsory consumption of peas? Or could it be having an apparent lack of control over your own life while simultaneously being force-fed unpleasant and wholly unnecessary concepts like responsibility, which are reinforced with the regular cleaning of one’s room and putting away of toys? Is it the nightly bath time or maybe having a prescribed bedtime when you’re not even tired or anything? The bottom line, here, is that childhood is such a drag that the only thing that even marginally takes away its sting is spoiling, doting grandparents who thankfully seem to lack even a basic understanding of the word “no”.
In my mind, though, nothing in the realm of the child comes close to the horror of the group fundraiser.
I have memories of selling so much overpriced crap when I was kid that I can’t really recall exactly what kind of crap I pushed. There were M & M’s to be sure, and the ever popular chocolate bars (which, by the way, seem to get smaller every year). I think in high school, selling Airheads was all the rage, and pimping those in that environment was basically like walking into a crack house and setting up a dollar smack kiosk.
Really, though, it wasn’t all fun and sweets. I spent one drizzly late-fall afternoon going door-to-door with a brochure full of wrapping paper and Christmas chocolates that would be a quarter of the price at a mall pop-up store two months later. Apparently, most of my neighborhood knew that too, based on my sales total for the effort. And that had to be the reason, right? It’s not as if my…um…masterful salesmanship had anything to do with my poor revenue stream. I mean, who doesn’t want to buy stuff from a miserable-looking 4th grader with a wrinkled sales sheet, a monotone pitch, and a flat affect?
Yeah, I’m pretty sure even I’d close the door on me.
At any rate, I feel kids today have it much easier, by comparison. I’m not sure you’re even allowed to go door-to-door anymore, since the boogeyman lurks in every suburban household these days. The last I heard, if you send your kids out in the neighborhood without armed escort and embedded GSP-tracking chips, Child Protective Services picks them up like stray puppies.
As such, it seems to fall more and more to the parents to push product in this day and age, by leveraging the kindness and naiveté of colleagues and extended relatives. I’m no exception to this rule myself. The past two years have seen me squeezing coworkers for both Boy Scout popcorn and Girl Scout cookies, which is pretty remarkable considering that my salesmanship hasn’t really improved. I have, however, finally learned to let the promotional materials do the heavy lifting, while I stay out of the way and try not to screw up the sale-in-progress.
Ironically, it’s the same approach I took when I was courting the Puddinette.
I have to admit, it’s a system that’s mostly working so far. The Puddinpop earned his popcorn-sales patch last year and the Princess Puddinette is well on track to take home some fabulous prizes from her Daisy troop in a month or so. It seems a little unfair to me, though. Sure, the popcorn’s pretty good, but it really requires some effort to sell. You have to make the poor boy give the spiel to your parents with those grandson puppy-dog eyes or add a post-it to the workplace display that reads, “C’mon, it’s for my son”. The cookies, though? As if. All one needs to do is utter the phrase “Girl Scout Cookies” and unruly hordes of people you don’t even know are suddenly fighting each other and waving money at you, clamoring for Thin Mints or Do-Si-Does.
In other words, my son sold about $2 more than his prescribed “quota” (and yes, you bet the kids have sales targets), while my daughter “sold” four times hers by doing essentially, well, nothing. I’m beginning to think they put some kind of crack in the cookies.
That said, we can still place orders until March 20th. So, who needs a box of Peanut Butter Patties?