One of the reasons many vets give for choosing their profession is, “I like animals better than people.” It’s not a good reason, mind you, and those with misanthropic tendencies learn to cover it up pretty quickly or else have a rotten career, but I will tell you from experience that well, it’s true.
I’ve been working on it. I actually get along pretty well with people, as far as I can tell. But every once in a while I experience one of those penultimate human experiences that I’m supposed to relish, and all I can do is run away screaming and bury my face in the dog and not want to talk to another person for at least eight hours, possibly ten. I had one of those this week.
In an attempt to raise a good citizen, I enrolled my daughter in Girl Scouts. I did it when I was a kid. I tried to find my picture of me in my Brownies uniform to prove it, but I think it’s in the storage facility somewhere, at least that is my excuse. Anyway, as far as I could recall, it was fun: we made some ribbon barrettes, colored, got to wear those badass brown sashes to school and strut around every Tuesday, and I think one time I sold some Thin Mints. It was low key.
And I look around at the second graders these days dressing like Miley Cyrus and singing all the words to “I’m Sexy and I Know It”, and I realized something with horror: I’m apparently an old school prude. And I’m really not, but compared to what’s out there, I kind of am. And I had two main choices for after school activities for my daughter: Girl Scouts or the local dance studio, and if you saw what the eight year olds were wearing at the last recital you would understand why I went with the scouts.
Because the Scouts are the answer to all the things we bemoan about being a woman today, right? It’s about teamwork and solidarity. It’s about empowerment. Equality. Buoying your fellow woman instead of throwing her under the bus. Girl power and all of that, embrace your brain, etc.
As January approached, word came down that Girl Scout Cookie season was fast approaching, and which Mandatory Cookie Meeting would we like to attend. Our troop’s Cookie Magistrate dutifully went on the troop’s behalf, and came back with a 500 page Rule Book detailing the intricate and mythic tome that outlined cookie sale parameters. There are major rules here, people. Deadlines and requirements and set in stone dates and Craigslist bans and everything.
But no matter. My daughter, a bit more outgoing than I ever was, was happy to grab our mobile unit- we got rid of our wagon when the kids were little so we were stuck with a rolling Tumi bag like a displaced commuter, or maybe a street hawker from Manhattan selling pirated goods- and head down the street in search of some sales.
How hard could that be, right? Everyone loves Thin Mints. Plus it’s a cute kid in a brownie uniform and she was walking an also-cute Golden retriever, and it was the first day you could legally sell cookies so no one had the “Oh, I bought some already” excuse.
Fifteen houses later, not one neighbor even bothered to answer the door to reject us to our faces. Dejected, we returned home. And ate some cookies.
The next day, my friend and I had the bright idea to go walk around the neighborhood down by the library. The library is right across the street from the local junior high, and we timed it just as the 13 year olds were pouring out of the school in search of carbs. It was awesome. The girls opened up their little suitcase and held court like the brilliant hucksters they were. It was glorious.
And the next day, we found out someone ratted us out.
There are Cookie Spies, you see. And they called whatever 1-800 number exists for Reporting Illegal Sales of Cookies on us. Because if there’s one thing a Girl Scout loves more than supporting her fellow scouts, it’s winning “big prizes.” Like T-shirts and pillow pets. And as much as the idea of fundraising for the greater good may appeal to one’s sense of community, when it all boils down to it, in this cutthroat world, it’s each scout for herself. We weren’t trying to be sneaky. We weren’t trying to pull one over on The Man, or in this case The Girl. I just wanted my daughter to sell at least one box of cookies so she’d stop looking so sad and I wouldn’t have 96 boxes of Thin Mints sitting on my dining room table calling to me.
As we were to learn, buried somewhere in the rules and regulations that state you can walk on the sidewalk in a mobile unit prior to said date, somehow stopping on the sidewalk is not ok. Like, I guess you need to continually stay in motion until booth sales start this upcoming weekend. (Trolling private residences is ok, though.)
I tried to picture how this might work, me driving slowly around the block while my daughter hung out the back trying to count out change, and my head started to hurt. So I went to Joann’s to get some stickers for something or another, and every person in there was a Girl Scout mom trying to come up with the fanciest poster for their kid’s wagon. And then my head hurt even more. Because so help me God, I think those women were enjoying this. They were plotting the best street corners to walk on. I never thought I would hear a bunch of middle aged women in a fabric store having this conversation.
I’ve learned some lessons about solidarity, community and leadership over the last month. Yes I have. More than anything, I learned that if this is what sisterhood is about, well, I guess I made the right choice being the weirdo who hangs out with her dogs all day, because it’s way easier that way.
And if anyone asks, my name is Jennifer Bagelsong and my troop is number 666 from San Dimas.
Lisa W says
Cookies were easier when I was a Girl Scout apparently. I so wish I could open my sanctuary tomorrow so I could deal with dogs every day instead of people in the corporate world….
Dr. V says
It’s nuts! They are insane now.
I don’t even remember selling cookies when I was a Brownie! How times change. I do remember selling candy bars when my son played baseball, but all you had to do was take them to work and set them on your desk, and they practically sold themselves. The good ole days!
Dr. V says
It’s even competitive at work! My husband said some kid came in to his office the other day going cubicle to cubicle.
I did the door-to-door thing ONCE, and it was so painful and awful for me as a little shy 2nd grader to get doors slammed in my face that I said “Forget it,” and was happy with my 50 boxes sold and my lame Girl Scout beach towel consolation prize. My parents were never big on the competition and frenzy in order to get stuffed animals or radios or whatever. They taught me it wasn’t worth it.
Although, as another “like animals better than people” person, my parents worked with me to work on badges solo. My troop always wanted to do the pottery badge or the sewing badge, etc… and would never do the “Miss Fix-It” badge, so my dad would do it with me, and if you present it to the troop, you can do badges by yourself. Since “by yourself” is WAY better for me than “in a group,” I may not have sold cookies… but I had to wear an extra sash for all my badges. Lol.
Dr. V says
I love that. And that’s what it’s about, right?
Amy Sunnergren says
My parents would not let me sell cookies door to door, because they felt that it was pressuring the neighbors. (we lived in a very small neighborhood-way out in the “country”) so the only cookies I ever sold were to my parents – and that was ok. We just didn’t have the pressure back then. No one comes to our door anymore, and the only place to buy them is in the grocery store as you walk in or out. Because I don’t know the troop or any of the members I don’t even look. I know that much of the funding for the GS is from those cookie sales. We had dues $.10 a meeting. That’s how we funded may of our activities.
Dr. V says
It’s so much easier that way. I made Grandma buy 10 boxes. 🙂
Bill Schroeder says
Awesome. I can so relate, even though my girls are not in scouts…the fundraisers are silly. More ofthe than not, we wind up buying a whole bunch of raffle tix, cookies, candy bars, and wrapping paper…with the school being close and every other house having a child in the system it gets wierd going door to door…everyone buying each others stuff. I say, save the effort ditch the fundraiser and just collect my money at the beginning of the year…at least this way the school gets 100% of the proceeds. Anyway…great post. Stay well.
We did this in our High school. Ring doorbells, ‘hi, we’re in the band. Give us money’. I think it worked out pretty well.
I agree I’d rather give cash than buy junk, but the kids only know how to follow the directions on their sheet – they aren’t good at thinking out of the box with ‘how about I just give you $5’. And they probably wouldn’t get their ‘prizes’ for cash donations, since everything is run though big fundraising companies.
Luckily(?), now that we live in the country. The only door-to-door people we get want us to join their church, not buy anything. Is that a good trade?
Dr. V says
Hmm, that’s a wash I think.
Dr. V says
I agree 100%. Here’s a check, now can I go back to what I was doing? LOL
I hated selling cookies and in the end (9 years of girl scouts) I stopped selling them. I didn’t care about the prizes. Hey, did you sell some cookies? Great. Don’t worry about it, there will always be someone that rats you out, and you legitimately didn’t know you couldn’t do that. Do they take the sales away from you? So petty.
Dr. V says
They didn’t, amazingly enough.
Sue W. says
I agree with you about it all. Luckily, as I had no girls, never had to deal with the whole girl scout thing. When I was a Brownie, NEVER went door-to-door.
Dr. V says
I really despise the door to door stuff. Bleh!
Susan Shields Montgomery says
When I sold cookies, they were .50 a box, so that tells you how long ago that was! All I remember earning was a patch that said “I Sold The Whole Thing.”
I see scouts set up on the sidewalk all the time, at stores, etc. Is that against the rules? I would rather they do that than walk door to door..not as safe as it was when I was a kid.
Dr. V says
They lift the regulations on booth sales this weekend. But only with permission.
I hate how expensive Girl Scout cookies have become, but ohhh those dang Peanut Butter and Chocolate ones YUM!
I was never in Girl Scouts or Brownies, but I tried to sell crap for school every year. I hated it. I would only sell the minimum for the free pizza party, because I HATED going door to door. I had to do that all through school, and it wasn’t for a school trip or anything it was only for the PTA or school. :p
Now, I am much better at selling things as long as it is something I believe in and it’s not the junk kids have to sell. ( I say junk, because sometimes they have to sell dumb plastic things no one would buy normally, expect for the fact a kid is trying to sell it.)
Dr. V says
The door to door stuff is the WORST. I hated it. Still do.