Sunday, January 20, 2013

Scouting report

It's Saturday morning and I'm just finishing up some online banking for the my friend's alderman campaign fund. Wallet in hand, I pass my front door when I hear a knock. Because I'm working on a political campaign, I don't hesitate to open the door hoping to generate good Karma when I may soon be knocking on my neighbor's doors.

I open the door to an an adorable girl of 8 or so. Over her pink puffy coat she is wearing her Girl Scout vest. The badges and pins immediately take me back to my own happy days as a GS. She seems startled that I opened the door so quickly. She blinks up at me and I hear her dad:
"Go ahead, ask her."

"Would you like to buy some Girl Scout cookies," she shyly asks.
I look over to her dad who looks very young himself. He is holding the girls bedazzled scooter.
I tell the girl sure, I'd love to buy some cookies.
"Wow, door-to-door, the old-school way. Cool!" I say, taking up her order sheet.
"Hum, what's good? What's your favorite?" I ask her.
She enthusiastically answers, "Samoas!" and her face lights up and all the sudden she just a little girl who loves cookies.
Dad chimes in "Thin Mints too. Everybody wants those."

As I look over the sheet I see that the Girl Scouts have added a few new features including energy bars and boxes on the order sheet to mark off if you'd like to donate boxes of cookies.

"Tell her how to order and when you'll be here to drop them off," dad prompts her again.
He looks like a blue-collar dad. He's wearing a short jacket, the kind my own blue-collar dad used to wear when he was puttering about in the garage on a cold winter day. But he is taking the time to go door-to-door with his daughter. I can't recall my own dad ever doing that. And as a mom, I know I've never done this when my son had to sell anything for field trips and band fundraisers.

The dad says: "Give her a pen, honey."
I ask "Are they still $5 a box?"
"Sheesh. I remember when I was a Scout. I think they were $1.75 a box, maybe even less," I say.
I look in my wallet and I have one five dollar bill. Rare for me, as I almost never have cash.

"Yeah, the girls will hardly see any of this money," the dad complains. He starts talking about how the GS establishment makes a fortune off this. I sympathize with him and nod in agreement.

When my son had fundraisers and would ask me to bring the order sheets to work and to my friends, I'd say no. "I'll just write your school a check for $50 outright. That way the school gets the money directly." But he didn't care about that. He wanted whatever prizes there were for top sellers. I would counter with "but I can BUY you that prize and give the money to the school and still come out ahead. The school gets more money and you get a prize no matter what." His dad circulated the sales sheet instead. My son was satisfied with got whatever trinket those sales were worth. I wrote the check to the school. My son was hardly involved at all. And neither was I.

I say to the Scout in my cheerleader voice: "Well, you'll get a badge for this, right? That's the best part!"
I hand the girl the cash and her dad reminds her to say thank you.
Satisfied she has completed this task, she scoots off on her bedazzled scooter that her dad dutifully handed her.

I don't recall ever having purchased Girl Scout cookies from a stranger. In fact, I can't remember the last time I purchased a box from an actual Girl Scout. But I buy them every year when someone posts a sheet at the office or a friend makes a facebook plea.

I get it that you can't let your girls go door-to-door selling things anymore. But it is perfectly fine to go with your dad. Sure the dad may really be making sales, and all the proceeds won't make it back to the troop. But spending a day in the neighborhood with your dad is better than a thousand boxes of Samoas.

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