Thursday, March 14, 2013

Sorry Girl Scouts, I'm done with the cookies

The Girl Scout cookie displays in front of grocery stores usually have boxes piled on tables, poster board signs screaming with exclamation points and at least one parent with the look of “get me out of here.” But recently I found a neighborhood cookie connection with the added hook of a singing scout.

Would you like to buy …
Would you like to buy …
Would you like to buy some Girl Scout Cookies?

My response, which I kept in my head to protect the girl from earning a badge for enduring off-key singing, was this:

No, I don’t want …
No, I don’t want …
No, I don’t want any more of your cookies.

I smiled at the girl, gave a friendly “no thanks” wave and walked past. She was showing some real cheerleader spark, so you might think I felt bad as I let the sliding doors close behind me.

Well, yes, I did. I’m not heartless.

But that won’t stop me from turning down another cookie salesman today. And tomorrow. And for whatever time remains in this year’s nationwide bonanza of Samoas, Savannahs and smiles that say, “how about buying a box or two.”

Not that there’s anything wrong with Girl Scout cookies. I’m so supportive of the cause, in fact, that I’ve been known to wax a box of Thin Mints in an afternoon.

But there are just too many Girl Scouts selling cookies. They’re all over my neighborhood, so the supply of eager sellers far exceeds the demand. Eventually, even for a scout who is enthusiastically singing, I can only offer a head start on the Sting of Rejection Badge.

Sorry about that, scouts. But with so many kids (and their parents) trying to raise money for something, fundraiser fatigue is creeping in.

All these fundraisers are nothing new, of course. When I was a kid, I sold cookie dough, popcorn, candy bars, raffle tickets and coupon books, and for years my elementary school sent me out hawking things such as jalapeno cheese logs and Cajun-style summer sausage. Each campaign became an effective first step toward a career in anything but sales.

I’m not sure when my door-to-door fundraising began. But I didn’t know who lived at most of the houses, so by today’s standards, I was too young to be knocking on doors without a parent keeping watch. I guess it wasn’t any more dangerous than riding in my parents’ car, which had no seatbelts in the back seat. And it was a convertible.

Yeah, wow. But I survived that, and I also survived hundreds of sweaty-handed, shaky-voice sales pitches to people who immediately regretted opening the door. I remember a lot of doors slamming, or at least closing with enough conviction to communicate a strong “no … and don’t come back with something else next month.”

So for all of you fundraisers out there, pint-sized to adult, I feel your pain. Please think of that when I sidestep your raffle-ticket sale or you walk to my door and can hear me telling my kids “shh … everybody be quiet.”

Don’t think of me as the guy who won’t make eye contact with you as you wave a sign for a car wash or rummage sale. Think of me when I was 9 years old, wearing those ’80s corduroy Op shorts and with socks pulled to my knees, struggling to make sales goals for hearty Wisconsin cheese and sausage.

And one other thing. Think of me if you get a craving for some kind of candy, because I think my kids’ school is having another fundraiser soon.

I’ll hook you up. If necessary, I might even sing.

You can use the buttons below to share the column on Facebook or Twitter. Click "Follow @humorcolumn" to get a Twitter update for new columns. To get columns by e-mail, type your address in the box under "Receive columns by e-mail" near the top right of this page. Thanks!