Kids in Salesby
Oliver Twist, 21st Century Style
you are now holding, or have ever held, a leadership position with the PTA, booster
club, scouting troop or any sort of "do it for the kids" organization, I kindly
ask you to quit reading right now and resume making the world a better place for
our children. Why? Because I'm about to write something that is going to make
you want to respectfully disagree, maybe even write a terse, yet well reasoned
and cogent, letter to the editor. |
A lesser person would want to punch
me in the throat; luckily, you're too mature and civic oriented for such nonsense.
Now that the responsible folks are gone, let me get to the point. There's got
to be a better way for kids' groups to raise funds besides selling stuff. I get
that kids need to be involved and learn the value of hard work, money, and yadda,
yadda, yadda. But I'm not sure turning them into hucksters for The Man is the
way to do it.
Just this school year alone, my second grader has shilled
magazines, coupon books, highly preserved food and candy, a catalog of overpriced,
intensely plastic consumer goods, and a whole bunch other stuff no one wants or
needs. All the peer pressure and "incentive programs" give my kid that unsettling
Willy Lowman / Glengarry Glen Ross type of sweaty desperation.
of days before the deadline, she's pacing around the house, muttering, "got to
sell 15 items, yes sir, got to sell 15, otherwise don't get to go to the popcorn
party. Really need to go to the popcorn party. I deserve a popcorn party. Need
some leads - I really like popcorn - who can I call?" Then she starts chain smoking
and screaming at the delivery guy that her Kung-pow is cold. Not a good look for
a second grader.
is usually the case in this great crimes against humanity, those you love most
are the ones hurt the most. I believe we're eaten up most of my parent's retirement
fund with our fundraisers. They're on the fourth IRA cashed out. They'll drop
by and we'll conveniently have the order form lying on the coffee table. Would
they care for something to drink and a magazine description?
all good and well for us, but having gone to grandparent well so often, they're
already subscribers to about every magazine in print. Looking over the list, their
only choices left are "Naked Arc Welding Weekly" and "Fat, Dumb Guy Illustrated."
Personally, I think Fat, Dumb Guy has really gone downhill since they got all
political and preachy and forgot their stupid and slovenly mission.
filled in the first half dozen spaces on your sales record, you then hit up friends
who have kids. They owe you from all the junk you've bought from their forced
fundraisers. In fact, I'm thinking about 90% of sales are part of this incestuous,
revenge selling cycle.
In another disturbing parallel with the mafia,
once you've bought in with your first overpriced plastic crock of cheese spread,
the only way out of this cycle is either death or prison. Shoot, prison is not
really an escape with the "smokes and toilet gin" fundraiser that Ray-ray and
Skittles run so they can get new weights for the exercise yard. Death is your
But it gets worse. Trying to sell this - I want to use a
much stronger word, but I'll use "junk"- to mere acquaintances, or (gasp) strangers,
causes the most uncomfortable silences ever recorded in social interaction. You
whip out your sales catalog, shove it in someone's face, and then the "this jerk
is trying to sell me an 80 cent bag of seeds for 9 dollars. If I kill him, no
jury will convict me. Yes, I believe I will not buy his seeds and I will kill
him" look comes out.
If I remember my economic theory correctly, being
a producer of something that has absolutely no demand and is priced at a level
that no one would pay is not the best of business plans. Yet these midgets of
industry are able to pull it off using our kids. If there ever was some muck that
needed raking, this is it.
when it's good stuff we want to buy, the selling season is too long. Take Girl
Scout cookies. Everyone loves Girl Scout Cookies. The first time you see the cute
little pixie in her cute little patched covered vest at the door of the Brookshire,
your dropping 9 bucks on three boxes of thin mints and eating the first sleeve
in the car on the way home.
But three weeks later, having consumed 14
pounds of short bread, samoas, and do-si-does, the last thing you want is another
box of cookies, especially since you're just running to the store to get some
fabric softener for the wife so you can get back to watching the game. But you
drop a "no thank you" to a cookie solicitation and out comes the 1000 yard stare.
It's especially bad if you're parked on the other side of the lot and have to
feel the cold hatred burn into your back as you make the long walk, almost frightened
jog, back to the truck.
I'm not saying these little darlings are violent,
but I'm fairly certain the girl scouts earn their patches using the same criteria
the military devised in awarding ribbons, namely skills in killing the enemy?
If I read them correctly, the last 8 year old I saw shilling cookies is scope
trained to drop Charlie from 800 meters, can kill a man 14 different ways using
only her thumbs, and can fashion an IED out of merely a Dora the Explorer thermos,
some baking soda, and a smidge of lemon-flavored lip gloss.
If there are
any group leaders still reading, please know I'm fine with your noble pursuit.
It's the companies that make the obscene profits off the sweat of our little kids
that irritates me. At beginning of the year, every household just writes a check
to the fundraising fund and then we don't have to avoid eye contact when we see
someone with a sales form in his hand. That will give me more free time to catch
up on my magazine reading. I'm like 4 issues behind in my Naked Arc Welding reading.