Remember that conversation we had the other day about how we hate it when our kids have to go out and sell stuff for their schools, or their sports teams, or their scout troops? Wait, that wasn’t here—someone else blogged about how they hate it when their coworkers turn their cubicles into a sales booth for those kid-driven products. I believe she might have also mentioned the tiny Avon/Mary Kay/Scented-Candles-I-Don’t-Really-Want emporia that lurk in what should be a larger workplace dedicated to the people who give you your paycheck.
Actually, that blogger was Stephanie Faris who writes a great blog called “Steph in the City”. As usual, she was spot-on in her analysis of the situation.
I was sufficiently moved by her post that I commented as follows:
Yeah, this stuff is way out of control. It's bad enough that I paid a neighbor kid $17 for a bag of caramel popcorn for his boy scout troop (I am not kidding), but that's because I believe in supporting the kids who are willing to ring the doorbells on our block and ask. In the workplace?-- I always hated it. It seems to me to be totally wrong. When I had the authority, I would tell people they could leave their brochures and sign-up sheets in the break room, but not approach people personally on work time.... Didn't always work, but I sure tried...
But I’m out of the workplace now, and subject only to the ringing of the doorbell with the occasional adorable kid from the neighborhood trying to peddle gift wrap, cheese and sausage packages, popcorn, magazine subscriptions and the like.
My husband, the Center of the Universe (CoTU) is a real soft touch. He plays tough, but the fact is, he will rarely pass kids running a lemonade stand without stopping to buy a cup. If he absolutely can’t stop, then he talks about how badly he feels about letting them down for the next twenty minutes in the car.
And any time a kid rings the bell with a fundraiser, we always step up and find something to purchase.
So it’s as if there’s a giant red neon arrow over our front door that flashes the word “SUCKERS” when school fundraising season comes around.
About a month ago a neighbor boy came to the door, and CoTU answered. He was out on the porch for kind of a long time. When he came back, he said, “I hope you like caramel corn.” (Side note: After 15 years, shouldn’t he know whether I like caramel corn?) But anyway, when I asked why, he told me he had just spent $17 on a bag of caramel corn for this kid’s scout troop.
“Seventeen dollars???” I asked, incredulous. “The bag better be the size of Montana for that kind of money…. And aren’t we both trying to lose weight?”
“Well, you know how it is,” he said. “These kids are forced to raise money—how can I say no?”
Of course, I’m secretly glad that this is one of his characteristics—helping the kids out. I just wish it didn’t come laden with so many calories.
So the other day the doorbell rings again. Cynic that I am, I look out the window first to make sure it’s not the toothless boys from Deliverance trying to sell us firewood. We are in the firewood season, after all. I didn’t see a truck, and anyway CoTU was already opening the door.
Aha, the young lad with his bag-o-calories. Not the size of Montana, not the size of Iowa, not even the size of Rhode Island. It would easily fit into my gym bag. With the clothes, shoes and towel already in it. And the water bottle. And headphones. Anyway…
So I see CoTU bringing the bag into the kitchen, and he’s laughing. I see the bag, and I hear his laughter, and I say, “Next time, maybe we just shouldn’t open the door.”
Then he turns the bag around and shows me what’s cracking him up.
“Great,” I admit. “The little manipulator knows his craft—we are putty in his tiny little hands.”