Sunday, January 27, 2008

A Gaggle of Girl Scouts

Yesterday I rolled over to the local bookstore to see if they had any audiobooks on sale. Outside there was a table holding girl scout cookie boxes, lined up like soldiers. Surrounding the table was a group of a dozen or so girl scouts, with various pieces of uniforms on - patches, sashes, and/or caps.

And me. The quad. Heading toward them in The Beast at full power.

Cookies and I have a very special history. I grew up in a family where my dad worked for Sunshine Biscuits, a cookie company. Their arch enemy was Nabisco, so the one word we never uttered in our house was "Oreos". We also never bought girl scout cookies.

"Don't need those," my father would say. "We have plenty of cookies."

We did. He brought home boxes of cookies of all kinds. Marshmallow stuffed chocolate covered Kings that came off of the assembly line a tad crooked or Hydrox cookies (their oreos with a name that sounded like an acne medicine) with their tops on upside down. The factory workers knew that if cookies came off of the assembly line wrong, you could count on people taking them home for their kids if they boxed them up in cartons.

And so every Friday night my dad walked in with a box of misfit cookies for us and our friends- and took one over to the convent for the sisters to have with their tea. Every Saturday morning our friends came knocking on our front door to play - and asked surreptitiously "What do you have this week?", leaving with a handful of treats.

So when faced with this gaggle of girl scouts peddling cookies, my immediate reaction was to think "I don't need those".

But those faces. The question: "Would you buy some cookies?" The youthful exuberance of not one or two faces but an even dozen. I have five nephews and only one niece and have never been able to say no to her. Okay. So it's hard for me to say no to any of them.

"One box," I said. And with that the girl scouts went into action. Two little girls began to explain their product line, while two 'runners' lined themselves up at the bookstore door, explaining their job was to get change. Two others stood by to hand me the product(s) I chose.

Three girl scouts helped me get out my five dollar bill. Two others made sure the box of cookies was securely placed on my wheelchair, while the runners went to get me change ("Not fifty cents, a dollar fifty!" I heard them cry out when the youngest runner returned with two quarters). Several girl scouts then put my change in my wheelchair bag. It was a blur of girl scout badges, insignia and patches.

I tell you, it takes a gaggle of girl scouts to sell a box of girl scout cookies to a quad. It takes team work- it took every single girl scout there to make it happen. I never saw such an efficient, lean mean cookie selling team in my life. It renewed my faith in the future of American enterprise. It made me think they should be running homeland security.

A number of friends stopped by yesterday and all of them ate some of the girl scout cookies. "What do you have? Cookies?" they all asked, reaching into the box.

And I could picture the carton sitting on our kitchen counter, open for our friends' hands to grab the cookies.

Things haven't changed that much.