By MATT WIXON
As I reached for the doorbell with my arms full of delicious ways for
my neighbor to support my school, I glanced down at the fund-raising kit's suggested opening line:
"Hello, my name is (your name here) and I am selling delicious cheese-and-sausage products to raise money for (your school here)."
That opening line would work fine, but I knew it wouldn't make me the top cheese-and-sausage salesman at my school. I decided to add in how my school needed new playground equipment and that the top salesman would win a trip to Disneyland, where I had always dreamed of visiting (insert 10-year-old grin here).
Who could resist such a dramatic presentation?
As it turned out, just about everyone. But at least they offered legitimate-sounding excuses. Some couldn't find their wallet or purse. Others had already bought cheese and sausage from another student. A few were allergic to both cheese and sausage -- and talk about bad luck -- they were also allergic to the pecan rolls, candy bars and caramel popcorn I was shilling.
"I also have coupon books," I would add.
"I think I hear the phone ringing," was their response, "and a pot may be boiling over."
I got the point.
At some houses, I didn't even get to make my point. As I approached the front door, the lights in the house would go out, the blinds would close and the television would become silent. I would hear faint whispers of "Be quiet!" and "Is he gone yet?"
It's hard to believe people could do that to an innocent child walking the mean streets of fund-raiser world. What's harder to believe, however, is that I've become one of those people.
How quickly I forgot my childhood dearth as a salesman: the days when neighbors became targets as I parroted my opening line in hopes that someone would buy a raffle ticket, a box of caramel delights or sponsor me in my basketball team's Hoop-a-thon. The days when my relatives had an ample supply of my car-wash coupons and $9 cheese spreads.
These days, I'm the one peering through the blinds for pint-size pitchmen and pretending not to exist when they ring my doorbell. Yes, I know they're raising money for a good cause, and, yes, I feel guilty. Especially when I see them walking dejectedly away from my door wearing their soccer uniforms or T-shirts with their
dance team's name on the front.
How can I be so heartless?
Well, here's one reason:
Apparently 425 Girl Scouts live in my neighborhood, and they are all currently selling cookies. There are only so many boxes of Tagalongs, Do-Si-Dos and Samoas I can eat. And Thin Mints don't make you thin. Maybe minty, but I don't really want to be that either.
Anyway, somewhere in the sales assault of cookies, homemade wrapping paper and Wisconsin cheddar logs, I realized there are just too many good causes -- and even more good "saleskids."
"Hello, my name is Michael, and I am selling candy bars to raise money for my swim team," said one visitor a while back. "Do you like to swim?"
Do I like to swim? This guy was good.
As Michael continued his pitch, I hoped that my phone would ring, a pot would boil over or an excuse better than "I'm sorry, but I'm busy making the world safe for democracy" would pop into my head.
It was too late for excuses, anyway. Michael had rattled off his entire line of products and I was feeling guilty. I bought one, and then Michael was off to his next customer and, with a little luck, a grand prize like Disneyland. I basked in the satisfaction of supporting a cute kid and a good cause.
But only for a moment, because another kid was soon to be at my door. And I expect some more will be coming this week.
Shh ... everybody be quiet. I'm pretending nobody is home.
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