This time of year as girls in green skirts, blue vests or patched blue-jean jackets stand outside of big businesses and gas stations alike, it’s impossible not to retrace my childhood memories.
Girl Scout cookie time.
It is of the most unpleasant recollections stored in the back of my mind. Daisies, Brownies and Cadets swarm like bees as Wal-Marts open their entryways to young entrepreneurs with over-priced goods. Many years ago, I was one of them. I never fully understood the concept behind the idea of selling cookies to strangers when I wasn’t even supposed to talk to people I didn’t know, much less take their money. But there I was.
My fellow troop members and I stood outside no matter if it was raining or cold. (which is why we hated the businesses that had paper towels in their restrooms rather than hand dryers). Hours passed as we watched shoppers go in and out of the automatic doors, our young legs tired and our overactive minds bored.
Our leader always said good business women didn’t sit on the job, nor did they bring toys to distract them from their work, so you can imagine how entertaining it became to count how many blue cars were in the parking lot or to sing “I know a song that gets on everybody’s nerves,” the most without messing up.
However, every once in awhile, someone would come by who we knew, and they would purchase a box or two and give us the motivation we needed to keep selling. Or there was the sweet lady who came by to buy a box for her friend as a gift and told us how cute we were. But she would leave fairly quickly because we had bombarded her, all trying to render our helpful services. Then there were those customers who pretended they couldn’t hear us.
“Would you like to buy a box of Girl Scout cookies? They’re only $3.”
Now I was only 7 years old and still had a lot of growing up to do, but even at my young age, I knew ignoring a person was disrespectful. People could at least take the time to say “no thank you,” or give us a polite reason, which some did. We heard some good ones. Teachers think students have too many excuses, but they haven’t sold a box of cookies.
“I’m on a diet.” “I’m allergic to chocolate.” “My children can’t have peanut butter.” “I don’t carry cash.” “I’ll buy them on my way out of the store.” “I’m a diabetic.”
We heard them all!
It takes a simple, “No thank you, but have a good day,” not some extravagant excuse for a Girl Scout to understand you wouldn’t like to purchase a box for whatever reason.
So, if you don’t care to buy a box this season around, still treat the girls with respect. Don’t avoid them; they’re not scary. Treat them as people. At least they’re out there trying to sell themselves instead of handing boxes to their parents to do all the work or selling them on e-Bay.
Yes, times are hard on everyone, but 50 cents sure means a lot more to a young scout than it does to you or me.
If you can’t buy a box because of the $3.50 price tag, or you’ve already bought from the neighbor girl, at least offer some encouragement, because those girls are going to grow up one day and be the buyers of the cookies your daughters sell one day.