I stood out in the cold for three hours today selling, of all things, Girl Scout cookies. Imagine you’re living in a small town in upstate New York and you arrive at your local Stewart’s for gas (and maybe a gallon of milk) to find a booth set up outside the shop with two young girls wearing sashes, ready for battle. Okay, so it wasn’t battle, but it was certainly a challenge moving those cookies on this frigid day.
One older man came up to us and said, “It’s a little early for cookies, but I’ll donate to the cause,” giving us a couple of dollar and a smile before climbing back into his truck. And in a way he was right, because even though April isn’t at all early for Girl Scout cookies, with the weather today it felt like late February. But it’s the day we were given, so we made the most of it, bundling up in hats, gloves, and scarves to combat the cold.
The lunch rush was our best time, with tons of business from people emerging from Stewart’s with some extra cash they were willing to part with — in exchange for some ridiculously overpriced cookies. But I guess it was the cause, and not just the cookies, that sold the product today. Probably a third of people who paid for cookies didn’t want any change, essentially donations for the girls to bring back to their troop.
In a way Girl Scouts is like an army. There are hordes of young girls who are sent out onto the battlefield armed with cookies and told to sell, in pretty much any weather conditions, all of those boxes. And while it may be easy to sell a few cases of Thin Mints, Samoas, and Tagalongs, try getting people to leave with a box of Rah Rah Raisins or Savannah Smiles (my personal favorite). But somehow we worked our magic and sold a few boxes of Do-Si-Dos, a couple Rah Rah Raisins, and even most of our Trefoils.
It helps to have cute kids too.
That second hour flew by pretty quickly in a flurry of hot chocolate, donuts, and some questionable coffee, not to mention over 40 boxes sold. Our little soldiers were still upbeat but starting to get colder, and by the end of it they were like popsicles. “Daddy, can we leave early?” Alexa asked, but I told her something about commitment and she stopped whining. Sometimes generals have to toe the party line and try to increase productivity in the troops, even when their own extremities are starting to get numb.
The last hour crept by as fewer and fewer customers came into the store, and subsequently fewer and fewer patrons came to our booth. We lost the youngest trooper as she took refuge from the wind in the car. We let her. The oldest trooper hung in there and kept warm by running around the table and counting steps. Hey, whatever it took was fine with me. At one point near the end I was out there at the booth by myself, and a guy passing by said, “I was about to say they’re letting in all kinds of Girl Scouts these days.” I smiled. At least I think I smiled. I’m not sure because the lines of my face were frozen.
We packed up with two minutes left to go, satisfied that we left no man out there on the battlefield, pretty worn out but successful at the task we had been given to complete. Now we’re back home, thawing out. And tomorrow’s weather forecast says 60 and sunny. Hmmmm.