January 14, 2012

8 hours supervising cookie sales will really make ya think!

That is Hannah Jane in front of last year's pile of sold cookies before she happily delivered them.  It was her first year as a girl scout and she set a goal of selling 300 boxes.  This really stressed me out.  I know she's a goal driven kind of gal, and always meets her goals and being that she was just 7, this meant that I was suddenly responsible for supervising her for however many hours it took to sell 300 boxes.  And by golly she did it.

Today was the first day of Utah cookie sales, meaning she went door to door taking pre-orders, and she kind of reminded me of a new mom a year or so after giving birth to a child.  It's like she totally forgot how much work she put in last year.  She upped her goal to 500 boxes, which is totally not going to happen.  Totally.  And I fear the anguish which will pour forth from her cute and tiny little girl scout self when she finally realizes that it ain't gonna happen.  It's not that I don't have faith in her salesmanship.  It's simply that I don't have the time to drive her around for that many hours.  Nor could we expect the boys to tolerate that many hours in car seats.

Last year we spent two half days selling and she met her 300 box goal.  Since her second day was much slower than her first, and most houses said they had already bought from someone else by then, we decided that we were just going to go as long as it took on day one for her to feel satisfied and then not go out again.  Well, she hit the streets promptly at 10, went to all of her favorite customers' homes (it's amazing how she can remember which complete strangers bought how many and what kind) and then just kept going.  By 2 we had to stop and let the boys eat lunch before they lost their minds, but it was right back to work after only a 20 minute break.  We went until the sun went down.  We're talking about 8 hours in the van, watching her skip door to door.  And at the end of the day she had sold 144 boxes.  I thought this was fantastic, but could see why she was disappointed considering how many she sold in less time last year.  This is why I'm thinking that 500 is simply off the table.

Anyway, you make a lot of random observations while you sit in a van for 8 hours watching an 8 year old like a hawk as people try to convince her to step inside while they write a check.  Well, that's observation #1.  Middle aged men seem really offended that she won't come inside.  The women, on the other hand, all seemed really happy for her that she had learned and wasn't willing to bend any safety rules.  One man just kept telling her to come in.  He said, "Your mom can see me.  She's smiling.  Just step in!"  I can see that it's a touchy subject for men, always viewed as a potential predator, but come on, man!   Accept that she's following the rules and just go get your checkbook already!

On that same note, last year she had a little girl about her age who was offended that she wouldn't come inside.  While her parents got their check book, the girl just kept saying, "Uhh...if kidnappers or something lived here, do you think I'd still live here?  No way.  So if I'm here, you know it's a safe house.  Want some gum?"  Hannah Jane politely declined the gum from a stranger (albeit an innocent 6 year old stranger) which outraged this pint sized little bottle of rage.  She said, "What?  You think I'm going to poison you with my gum?   I just ate the gum, didn't I?  I mean if I poisoned the gum, I'm not going to go on and eat the gum right?  Just have some gum!"  Ha!  Hannah Jane never did take the gum, and thankfully the dad showed up with the check.  We laughed about that kid for months!  She had so much personality for such a small thing.  I imagine that she's what Nancy Grace might have been like as a kid!

Observation #2, the elderly cookie buyers seem to fall neatly into 2 categories.  Those who want to buy a box for every grandchild (we love that kind) and those who think you're a hoodlum and you're going to take their money and never bring them cookies ( we kind of enjoy that kind too)!  We had one woman refuse to pay up front for her cookies.  She just wouldn't do it.  Hannah Jane kept running back to the van asking what to do.  She was just a sweet, fearful old thing and I told Hannah Jane just to take her order, and if we never saw her money we'd chalk it up to some of our charity boxes.  Poor thing.  I mean Hannah Jane is tiny and elf like in her little girl scout beanie hat, and this little lady looked terrified of her, never opening the door more than a crack. 

Observation #3, people are so torn between being energy efficient by shutting the door on a child while they dig for their checkbook and being polite while all of their heat flies out the door.  After watching a few people struggle with this, looking guilty but horrified at the loss of heat, we took a second to discuss how Hannah Jane could maybe say to them, "Hey, I'm good out here, so it's fine to close the door and keep your heat in."  Once she employed delivered the line, people seemed more at ease.

Observation #4, January is the worst month of the entire year to sell cookies.  Every state has different sales times and I have to say that we got the short end of the stick here!  Every woman on the continent, and about half of the men, just vowed, not two weeks ago, to cut their calories.  It's too soon!  Their will power is still strong!  We really should be giving them a few more weeks to fail at their diet on their own before we come by like the devil in a brownie suit, tempting them with our resolution breaking treats!  That was the most common reason sited for not buying. 

The highlight of my day was the boys getting bored and eventually removing their dirty socks and throwing them at the back of my head  when we were in a neighborhood far from where we began, the sun was about to go down and we knew we were on our last house.  All of the sudden this woman pulled up beside me and rolled down her window.  "Hi there!  You were at my house this morning and I was so impressed with her!  How could you say no to that?  And now I'm up here dropping my mom off at her house hours later and here you are!  She's still going!  I'm just so impressed.  And my mom is impressed too, so she asked me to give you her address so you can make sure you don't miss her house before you go home."  How awesome is that?  We went to the mom's house even though we had planned to go home, and what do you know?  She was the buy a box for every grand kid kind of lady.  She made such a big deal out of Hannah Jane's hard work.  Her compliments were so much more exciting than her cookie purchase!

So, I'd say it was a good day.  The economy isn't going to be good for cookie sales, and we keep reminding Little Miss that every person who buys a box is basically engaging in an act of charity because they aren't exactly cheap cookies!  And so each sale is a gift from that person to her and we shouldn't be all down because it's not 500 boxes.  We should feel really honored that that many people contributed to her horse camp this summer.   She tried hard to look okay with the total for the day, but I could tell she was trying to cover bummed out with noble.  I suppose we'll probably be hitting the streets a few more times before it's all said and done.  No longer aiming for 500, but at least letting her feel like she gave it her best effort.

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